Shoplifting Lawyers in Raleigh

Our Raleigh Shoplifting Lawyers are Available if You’ve Been Charged

Shoplifting may not seem like a serious crime, but the penalties and long-term effects can be devastating. Even a one-time error in judgment, or a simple mistake or misunderstanding, can lead to jail, financial restitution, and a criminal record that will affect your ability to rent property, get a job, or own a weapon. Having an experienced Raleigh shoplifting lawyer on your side to examine the details of your case, explore your options, and advocate on your behalf is necessary to secure a favorable outcome. 

At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we have over 60 years of combined legal experience and knowledge, and many of those years were spent as prosecutors in the Wake County District Attorney’s office. This gives us a unique insight and perspective into how prosecutors may view your case, their goals, and how we can use that information to create a strong defense strategy.

Do you need legal representation in Wake County to fight against shoplifting? Call (919) 845-6688 and speak with an attorney for a free consultation.

shoplifting lawyer Raleigh

Understanding Shoplifting Laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, shoplifting is a form of larceny in which goods or merchandise are concealed while the person is in the store with the intent to take them without paying. Finding goods or merchandise that are concealed on a person by an employee, loss prevention officer, or law enforcement officer is considered “prima facie evidence” of intentional concealment and an intent to commit theft. Shoplifting is a Class 3 misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 20 days in jail and a fine, though prior convictions can increase the severity of the charges. 

Additionally, if you are accused of using a lead or aluminum lined bag or other method to defraud or deactivate an anti-theft detector or tag, this can automatically increase the charge to a Class H felony. 

Understanding Shoplifting as Larceny 

Larceny is a broad legal term that refers to taking property, goods, or money from the rightful owner with the intent to permanently deprive them of said property. It’s a fairly broad definition, and, depending on the act of theft or the value of what has been taken, can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. While both “theft” and “larceny” are correct and can be used interchangeably in general conversation, larceny is the legal term most commonly used in North Carolina. 

Two Types of Shoplifting Charges in North Carolina

Two types of shoplifting charges exist, based on where the person is apprehended. 

  • 1.) Concealment of Goods – If the shoplifter is caught in the store, he/she will be charged with concealment of goods.
  • 2.) Larceny of Goods – When the shoplifter has already left the store before being detained, he/she will be charged with larceny of goods. This is a more serious offense with more severe penalties than a concealment of goods charge.

The Penalties of a Shoplifting Conviction – Concealment of Goods

Whether the concealment of goods charge is a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the merchandise that is taken. If the merchandise is valued at less than $1,000, the shoplifter is most likely charged with a misdemeanor. If the merchandise is valued at more than $1,000, the charge is probably a felony. That being said, however, there are exceptions when shoplifting goods valued at less than $1,000 are felonies.

First Offense Concealment of Goods Shoplifting Conviction

If a person is convicted of a first offense for concealment of goods or altering of price tag and has no prior convictions, this is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a possible sentence of community service or one to ten days in jail. This penalty can increase if the person has prior convictions.

Second Offense Concealment of Goods Shoplifting Conviction

With a second conviction of concealment of goods or altering price tags occurring within three years, the individual is charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. The sentence can be probation, community service, or up to 30 days in jail if there are no prior convictions of any kind. There can be an additional sentence if the person has a prior criminal record.

Third Offense Concealment of Goods Shoplifting Conviction

Being convicted of a third offense concealment of goods or price tag altering within five years can result in a Class 2 misdemeanor conviction with a possible sentence of up to 45 days in jail. This can be longer if there are other prior convictions.

Engaging Use of a Tool to Prevent Antitheft Device Activation

If a tool is used to prevent the activation of an antitheft device, the charge is a Class H felony regardless of the value of the property. The possible sentence is between 4 and 25 months in jail depending on the person’s prior conviction history and other mitigating and aggravating factors.

Use of an Emergency Exit in Shoplifting

If an individual uses an emergency exit door to leave a store with goods valued at $200 or more, this is considered a Class H felony. Penalties are similar to using a tool to prevent the activation of a security device.

The Penalties of a Shoplifting Conviction – Larceny of Goods

If an individual is charged with larceny of goods, the charge can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the factors involved. Just like with concealment of goods charges, if the value of the property is more than $1,000, it will typically be a Class H felony; if the value of the property is less than $1,000, it will be a Class 1 misdemeanor. There are situations where a shoplifter can be charged with a felony even if the property is valued at less than $1,000, including:

  • When the property taken is a firearm, explosive device, or incendiary device.
  • When the property was taken directly from a person.
  • When the offender has four or more larceny or shoplifting charges.

The penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor can be up to 120 days in jail. The sentence can be as long as 39 months in prison for a Class H felony.

Why You Need a Shoplifting Attorney for Your Defense

If you are accused of shoplifting, it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side to act on your behalf. In cases of theft and shoplifting, the laws overwhelmingly favor the merchants or retail establishments, and even simple mistakes or misunderstandings can lead to a conviction on your record. 

When you are a client of Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, you’ll have a larceny and shoplifting attorney who is well-versed and experienced in the law. This means they’ll look at your case and know if you were legally stopped for shoplifting or if you were wrongfully accused. They can determine if the value of goods allegedly stolen is accurate or if the prosecution is inflating the value to charge you with a felony. Most of all, it means you’ve got an ally who is advocating for your rights and creating a defense strategy with the sole intent of getting you the most favorable outcome. 

Speak to our Raleigh Shoplifting Lawyers Today

Charges of larceny and shoplifting are serious, but you don’t have to face them alone. Call to speak to an attorney for free at (919) 845-6688 to discuss your case, or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.