Most of us know what the crime of shoplifting is: taking something from a store without paying for it by concealing it somehow. You might think of it as a relatively minor offense that could lead to an embarrassing arrest and fine at worst. But did you know that North Carolina prosecutes shoplifting as a felony in some cases?
Felony-level shoplifting in Statesville
It’s true. The law provides two scenarios in which shoplifting, which is a type of larceny or theft crime, can be charged at the felony level:
- The item or items allegedly taken have a total value of over $1,000.
- The accused person allegedly put the items in a bag or other container lined with aluminum or lead to foil tag-scanning technology.
These factors would raise the charges to a Class H felony, which can lead to a four-to-eight-month sentence. Otherwise, a first offense is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Three or more convictions within five years bump the charge up to a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 120 days in jail.
Take the charges seriously
Shoplifting charges can be more serious than you might realize at first. A high-level misdemeanor or felony can lead to significant time behind bars. Before deciding what to do about the charge, you need to know what your options are and what to expect. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney can help you understand what is at stake and evaluate the prosecutor’s case against you. For example, intent is an element of shoplifting. If you walked off with the items accidentally, fighting the charges might be your best choice.