Punishment for Misdemeanor Larceny in North Carolina

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Some states make a distinctions between petty larceny and grand larceny, but North Carolina abolished that practice.

Larceny is a crime. It's the unlawful act of taking away another person’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of their rightful possession of it. Some states make statutory distinctions between the crimes of petty larceny and grand larceny, but North Carolina abolished that practice. Instead, an individual is charged with a felony or misdemeanor depending on the monetary value of the stolen property, as well as other circumstances surrounding the crime.

Definition of Class I Misdemeanor

Under North Carolina theft statutes, if the amount of stolen goods is less than $1,000 in value, an individual may be charged with a Class I misdemeanor. If the value exceeds $1,000 by even one cent, however, the individual can face more serious felony charges.

Class I Misdemeanor Punishment

Misdemeanor larceny carries a punishment of up to one year in prison, but such a severe sentence for this level of theft is rare. Judges take many factors into consideration, including the defendant's criminal history and ties to the community. If the individual has never been charged or convicted of a crime before, he may only receive a sentence requiring him to perform community service.

Class 2 and 3 Misdemeanors

In North Carolina, a shopper can commit the crime of concealment of merchandise – shoplifting – if store officials apprehend him before he leaves the premises and he has attempted to conceal goods somewhere in his clothing or on his person. A first offense of concealment of merchandise constitutes a Class 3 misdemeanor.

The offender may receive only a suspended sentence of imprisonment if he performs 24 hours of community service, but a second offense of concealment within three years of the first offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor under North Carolina law. In this case, a sentence of imprisonment is suspended only if the offender is imprisoned for a term of at least 72 hours, successfully performs 72 hours of community service, or both.

Possession of Stolen Property

Even if an individual didn’t actually steal the property in question, if he is in possession of property that he has good reason to believe has been stolen by someone else, he can be charged with a Class H felony regardless of the value of the stolen property. This means that even if the value of the stolen property is less than $1,000, it is possible that the person possessing it can be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Automatic Felony Charges

Larceny of explosive devices, firearms, or records and paper in the custody of the North Carolina State Archive carries an automatic charge of a Class H felony regardless of the value of the item. This charge is punishable by a sentence of between four months and two years in prison, depending on the criminal history of the person charged and convicted.


About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.