Theft is a broad area of criminal activity. Theft crimes include shoplifting or retail fraud and armed robbery, as well as everything in between these two extremes. North Carolina will bring different charges against someone accused of theft based on a variety of factors.

Aggravating factors such as threats made against a victim or the presence of a weapon can increase the penalties and charges that someone allegedly involved in the theft incident will face. However, for most people charged with a theft-related offense, the factor that will determine the consequences they face will be the actual value of the items allegedly stolen.

The value of the items will determine if you face misdemeanor or felony charges

Many people charged with minor theft offenses will face misdemeanor charges, but it is possible for simple theft that doesn’t involve violence or a weapon to still result in a felony charge in North Carolina.

Under current state laws, theft of items worth less than $1,000 will be a Class 1 misdemeanor in many cases, which can lead to up to 45 days of incarceration. Retail fraud and concealment of merchandise may result in Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor charges against the person involved.

However, if the combined value of the items stolen exceeds $1,000, the defendant will face a felony. There are other situations that can turn a theft offense into a felony as well. Stealing a firearm, regardless of its value, will result in felony charges. Burglary or breaking and entering, as well as face-to-face robbery crimes, will usually also result in felony theft charges.

Theft charges can have a long-term impact on your reputation and success

Certain crimes carry more social stigma than other offenses. Theft crime, in particular, may make other people wary of trusting you with their possessions or even with access to their property for decades after a conviction.

Employers, landlords and educational institutions may all frown upon having a theft conviction on your recent criminal record. Instead of pleading guilty in the hope of avoiding jail or other consequences, you may want to consider fighting pending theft charges to avoid the impact of a criminal record on your life.