Shoplifting in the Holidays

One of the most common holiday activities is giving and receiving gifts, which prompts millions of Americans every year to shop in malls and stores. Unfortunately, there are many people who cannot afford gifts for their loved ones. Due to the embarrassment and expectations of the season, some of them resort to shoplifting.

In the United States, shoplifting incidents significantly increase during this time of year. Many of these people are not seasoned criminals, but regular folks just like you and me. However, that doesn’t mean it is okay to do so. In fact, shoplifting can result in serious consequences.

In North Carolina, shoplifting is under the umbrella term of larceny, which means taking and carrying another person’s property away—without his/her consent—to intentionally deprive him/her of the property. Charges and penalties depend on the value of the shoplifted items.

If the property which was stolen was valued at $1,000 or less, it is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a jail sentence between one day and 120 days. If the stolen item costs more than $1,000, it is a Class H felony, punishable by a prison term between four and 25 months. However, if the crime involved tampering with antishoplifting devices, using the emergency exit, or even theft of a firearm, it is considered a felony offense—no matter how much the item costs.

The following are additional crimes related to shoplifting in North Carolina:

  • A first offense for concealing merchandise willfully in a store or changing price tags – Class 3 misdemeanor (Jail sentence between one day and 30 days)
  • A second offense within three years for willfully concealing merchandise in a store or changing price tags – Class 2 misdemeanor (Jail term between one and 60 days)
  • A third offense within five years for willfully concealing merchandise in a store or changing price tags – Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Using a tool to deactivate or prevent activation of an antitheft device – Class H felony
  • Using an emergency exit door to escape while shoplifting at least $200-worth of merchandise – Class H felony

In addition, merchants who were victims of shoplifting can sue the perpetrator(s) in civil court. Merchants are entitled to financial compensation for any loss of value regarding the stolen item, consequential damages, and even punitive damages. Shoplifters are also responsible for the merchant’s attorney fees and court costs.

At Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, we understand how difficult it can be to fulfill expectations during the holiday season. However, what could cost a few dollars isn’t worth jail/prison time, expensive fines, a permanent criminal record, or a civil lawsuit. But if you have been arrested for shoplifting, our Raleigh criminal defense attorneys can help you either get your case dismissed or your charges/penalties reduced to help you avoid jail time and other serious penalties.

For more information about shoplifting in North Carolina, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.

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