• Coastal South Law

Shoplifting in North Carolina


In a previous article, we discussed theft offenses in general, including their consequences and potential defenses. Today, we are going to look at one particular type of theft offense — shoplifting, also referred to as retail theft. You may have noticed in the news that property crimes increased after many lost their jobs in the recent COVID-19 pandemic. One of the property crimes that has spiked is shoplifting. North Carolina statutes refer to theft as larceny. Shoplifting is a type of larceny and has varying degrees of penalties.

Types of Shoplifting

  • Larceny (theft) of goods or merchandise

  • Concealment of goods or merchandise while still on the premises

  • Transferring a price tag from a lower-priced item to a higher-priced item

  • Using items to block the activation of any anti-shoplifting or inventory control devices

Larceny of Property

Like many other states, North Carolina categorizes most larceny crimes according to the value of the property stolen. In the case of larceny of property, there are two prevailing categories. If the value of the goods taken is more than $1,000, then the defendant committed a Class H felony, which is punishable by four to eight months of incarceration (more if there are prior offenses). If the value of goods stolen is not more than $1,000, then the defendant committed a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by one to 45 days of incarceration (more if there are prior offenses).

Concealment of Merchandise and Transferring Price Tags

The penalties for these categories depend on how many previous convictions the defendant has. For the first conviction, the defendant is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 20 days in jail and community service. If the violator performs at least 24 hours of community service, then the term of imprisonment may be suspended.

If a second offense happens within three years after the first conviction, the defendant is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail. In that case, the jail sentence may be suspended, but only if the defendant sits in jail for at least 72 hours as a condition of probation, performs community service for at least 72 hours, or both.

Finally, for third and subsequent offenses committed within five years, the defendant is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 120 days in jail. Here, too, the jail term may be suspended but only if the defendant first sits in jail for at least 11 days.

Blocking Antitheft Devices

If the defendant attempts to conceal the stolen merchandise by using a lead-lined or aluminum-lined bag, article of clothing, or other similar device in order to block the anti-shoplifting or inventory control devices from being alerted, then the violator is guilty of a Class H felony.

In conclusion, shoplifting charges are not to be taken lightly. As with other theft-related crimes, having a shoplifting conviction on your record can have long-lasting effects, including negative repercussions on future employment.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Have you recently been charged with or arrested for shoplifting or any other larceny in Southeastern North Carolina? At Coastal South Law, our experienced criminal defense attorneys are ready to fight for you both inside and outside of the courtroom. Having a qualified lawyer by your side during every phase of the process can change the outcome of your case drastically. Pick up the phone today and call 910-253-0411 or visit us online at www.coastalsouthlaw.com.


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