While shoplifting is a common form of theft, North Carolina treats the offense with considerable seriousness. Apart from the fines and jail time, a shoplifting charge can have a severe, lasting impact on a person’s life, regardless of the value of the goods stolen.
Whether you’re a first-time offender or someone who’s been through the system before, knowing the laws and potential penalties for shoplifting is crucial.
What constitutes shoplifting?
In North Carolina, shoplifting offenses can be prosecuted under two laws: the state’s larceny law or the rules for concealment of merchandise.
Generally speaking, the following actions are shopping offenses according to the laws:
- Concealing goods while still inside the store
- Altering price tags to pay less for an item
- Transferring goods from one container to another
- Removing a shopping cart with the intent to steal
Depending on the circumstances of the offense, how the offender violated the law, and the value of the goods stolen, the offender will face the appropriate penalties on conviction.
The penalties for shoplifting
The punishment for shoplifting varies greatly whether a court convicted the person for larceny or concealing merchandise. The number of earlier offenses may also affect the penalties.
Larceny of goods:
- Value of stolen goods not more than $1,000: This is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 120 days in jail and a court-determined fine.
- Value of stolen goods is $1,000 or more: This offense is a Class H felony. On conviction, the person faces up to 25 months in prison.
Concealment of merchandise:
- Concealing goods while still within the store’s premises; transferring price tags: The offense is a Class 3 misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 20 days in jail and $200 in fines.
- Third or subsequent offense committed within five years: This is a Class 1 misdemeanor. It leads to up to 120 days in jail and a court-determined fine.
Facing shoplifting charges in North Carolina can have serious repercussions beyond legal penalties, affecting one’s future employment, education, and personal reputation. Understanding the nuances of the law is paramount. If you or someone you know is confronting such charges, discussing the specifics with someone well-versed in the state’s legal landscape may be beneficial.