Defending Larceny Charges in North Carolina

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question:”A past conviction is keeping me from finding work. What can I do?”


Larceny means the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent to keep it from the owner permanently. Larceny by definition does not include the use of force. If force is used in the taking of property, the act becomes a more serious offense, such as robbery. Another word that you can often use interchangeably with larceny is theft. Theft can occur whether the property owner is present or not, as long as force is not used.  Larceny may be a misdemeanor or felony based on some factors such as the dollar amount of the property taken.


car-theft-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Theft-defense-lawyer-300x225Common Types of Larceny


Generally, larceny is considered theft, although North Carolina law does not specifically define it. Typically, theft may be a misdemeanor or petty crime or a felony depending on the value of the stolen property and other factors. North Carolina law lists some specific crimes that they identify as larceny offenses. These include:


  • Receiving or possessing stolen goods
  • Merchandise concealment (in a store)
  • Removal of shopping cart from premises
  • Taking gas from a station
  • Theft of vehicle parts


Other crimes that may fall under the general category of larceny are purse snatching, theft from a vending machine, and issuing a bad check. It is helpful to note that shoplifting is a separate charge from larceny. Shoplifting is charged when someone takes something but has not yet left the store while theft actually occurs once someone leaves the store without paying for an item.


Penalties for Larceny


The potential penalties for a larceny conviction depend on the severity of the crime. The penalties vary based on the category of crime. Misdemeanor larceny is the least serious and therefore the penalties are lower than felony crimes.


  • Class 3 Misdemeanor: A Class 3 misdemeanor is typically a first-time petty theft, such as shoplifting. The defendant may receive a suspended jail sentence along with community service time.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor: A Class 2 misdemeanor is a petty theft crime that is charged when the offender has been convicted of another petty larceny crime within three years of a prior conviction. The penalty may include jail time. The judge may suspend or reduce a jail sentence on condition of community service.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: A Class 1 misdemeanor larceny charge occurs when the value of the stolen property or services is less than $1,000. If convicted of a first time offense, you will be sentenced to jail time between one day and up to 45 days.
  • Class H Felony Larceny: A Class H felony larceny is the charge when the theft of property or services is more than $1,000. A larceny is also a felony when the property was taken from a person, when the property was a firearm, or when the property was taken during a break-in (burglary). If convicted of felony larceny the penalty includes from 4 to 8 months in jail.


In addition to criminal penalties, you could also be subject to civil penalties. These penalties may include reimbursement for the value of the stolen property, compensation for legal fees, and punitive damages. Also, if the value of the property was $2,000 or more, the convicted offender may be required to forfeit their vehicle if it was used in the commission of the crime.


Seek Legal Help to Defend Larceny Charges


Although a larceny charge may be one of the least severe, it can result in harm to you and your family. If convicted of a felony, you will not only face jail time, but will also be left with a serious criminal record that can impact you for the rest of your life. There are many ways to build a defense against larceny charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney will review the details of the matter and help you vigorously defend the charges. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.






The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.





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