Shoplifting may seem trivial to some, especially when the only victims are big stores that can easily replace their stock. However, it’s still a theft crime in North Carolina and other U.S. states that violates the law.
It’s important to understand the legal repercussions of shoplifting. Stealing even the smallest of goods can cost an offender more than what the item actually costs, on top of the criminal penalties they face.
Shoplifting as larceny
In North Carolina, shoplifting falls under the general category of larceny. State law defines larceny as the unlawful taking and carrying away of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its use, which can apply to cases of shoplifting.
The value of the stolen goods typically determines how severe the accused’s penalties are on conviction:
- Stolen goods valued at $1,000 or less: The offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 210 days in jail and a court-determined fine.
- Stolen goods valued at over $1,000: The offense becomes a Class H felony. The maximum penalty on conviction is three years of prison.
In addition to these criminal penalties, shoplifters may be held civilly liable to the merchant for damages.
Shoplifting in North Carolina is no petty offense. It carries legal and civil penalties that can impact one’s life for years. For anyone facing shoplifting charges, it’s imperative to understand the gravity of the situation and to consult with a legal professional who can provide tailored legal advice and representation.