Have you been arrested for shoplifting in North Carolina? A shoplifting conviction can have life-changing consequences. It will be important to defend yourself against any criminal shoplifting charges you may face. Hiring an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney to handle your defense will help you to get the best possible result in your criminal case. Call the shoplifting defense attorneys at Caulder & Valentine today to request a free consultation.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is classified as a type of theft. Theft, also known as larceny, is the act of taking property that doesn't belong to you without the consent of the property's rightful owner. When you steal property (or attempt to steal property) from a store or business, you can face criminal charges for shoplifting. North Carolina's shoplifting laws target two distinct behaviors: larceny and concealment. The main difference between these two offenses is whether or not you leave the store with stolen goods.
Shoplifting: Larceny of Goods
When we think of shoplifting, we tend to think about the larceny of goods. You can face criminal charges for shoplifting under G.S. 14-72 if you unlawfully take merchandise from a store. Larceny of goods requires that you physically leave the premises with merchandise that you have not paid for. When shoplifting is charged as larceny of goods it can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The specific charge will depend on the value of the stolen property, the type of property that is taken, and your prior criminal conduct.
Misdemeanor Shoplifting for Larceny of Goods
Shoplifting is generally charged as a Class 1 Misdemeanor when the value of the stolen property is valued at $1,000 or less. In North Carolina, a Class 1 Misdemeanor is punishable by 120 days in jail, criminal fines, restitution, and/or community service.
Felony Shoplifting for Larceny of Goods
Shoplifting is generally a Class H Felony when the value of the stolen property is valued at more than $1,000. In North Carolina, a Class H Felony is punishable by up to 39 months in prison, criminal fines and/or restitution. A Class H Felony conviction does not necessarily require a defendant to spend time in prison. In some cases, a judge may sentence a defendant to a term of probation and require counseling, community service, and/or house arrest.
Shoplifting charges may be aggravated if you conspire with another person to commit the crime, unlawfully steal a firearm, and/or have prior shoplifting convictions. If you have four or more misdemeanor shoplifting convictions, a fifth offense will be charged as a felony. This is true regardless of the value of the shoplifted property.
Shoplifting: Concealment of Property
You can face criminal charges for shoplifting even if you never leave the store with stolen goods. North Carolina G.S. 14-72.1 criminalizes the act of intentionally concealing merchandise that you do not intend to buy while inside of a store. Sticking a watch in your pocket or slipping groceries into a backpack are examples of behaviors that would be considered concealment of property.
Misdemeanor Shoplifting by Concealing Merchandise
Concealing merchandise in a store is a misdemeanor offense in North Carolina. The classification of the crime will depend on whether this is your first offense, or if you have been convicted of concealing property in the past.
First Offense: The first shoplifting by concealment offense will be a Class 3 Misdemeanor. In North Carolina, a Class 3 Misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of 24 days in jail, criminal fines, restitution, and/or 24 hours of community service.
Second Offense: If you commit a second concealment offense within three years of your initial conviction, this second offense will be charged as a Class 2 Misdemeanor. In North Carolina, a Class 2 Misdemeanor is punishable by 60 days in jail, criminal fines, restitution, and/or 72 hours of community service.
Third and Subsequent Offenses: If you commit three shoplifting by concealing property crimes within a five year period, your third offense will be charged as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Defenses to Shoplifting Charges in North Carolina
If you have been arrested for shoplifting in North Carolina you have the right to defend yourself. Putting forward a solid defense will be important if you want to minimize the consequences of your arrest. A criminal conviction for shoplifting can result in jail time, harsh fines, and a criminal record. Once you have a criminal record in North Carolina, it will be difficult to go live your normal life. Having a criminal record can limit your job opportunities, make it difficult to find a home, and limit your ability to participate in government programs. Presenting a powerful defense can help you to avoid these penalties.
Defenses that may be helpful in your North Carolina shoplifting criminal case include:
- Lack of intent to commit a theft;
- Accident or mistake;
- Force or duress;
- Payment for goods;
- Mistaken identity;
- False accusation; or
- Violation of your rights.
At Caulder & Valentine, our criminal defense attorneys will argue any defense that helps to justify your behavior and minimize the consequences of your arrest. If we believe that your rights have been violated in any way (e.g., unlawful search and seizure, illegal arrest) we will immediately file a motion to suppress any evidence that has been tainted by this violation. Without evidence to support the case against you, the state may be forced to offer a favorable plea or drop the charges in their entirety.
Experienced North Carolina Shoplifting Defense Attorneys
While shoplifting may seem like a relatively minor crime, a conviction can have life-changing consequences. If you are facing criminal charges for shoplifting in North Carolina do not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Hiring an attorney to handle your criminal case will increase your chances of a positive outcome. Call the shoplifting defense attorneys at Caulder & Valentine today to schedule a free consultation and learn about how we can help you present the best possible defense. We will review the charges against you, determine the best possible line of defense, and explain your rights as a defendant in North Carolina.