Theft Defense Attorney in Gastonia, North Carolina
North Carolina is tough on those charged with theft. If the value of what is taken is more than $1,000, those arrested face a felony charge. Even shoplifting can result in jail time.
If you have been accused of or arrested for theft in Gastonia, Charlotte, Hickory, Lincolnton, or anywhere else in North Carolina, the law will not take it lightly. You shouldn’t, either.
At The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, I use my experience as a former prosecuting attorney for the benefit of the clients I now represent as a criminal defense attorney. There are no small criminal charges. Let me help you get the best result possible.
What Is Theft in North Carolina?
Theft under North Carolina law is called “larceny.” It is constituted by the act of attempting to permanently deprive someone of their property or of transferring or receiving such property.
Larceny includes shoplifting, transferring or receiving stolen property, removing shopping carts from store premises, stealing fuel or car parts, or taking any property owned by someone else, including firearms.
Classification of Theft Charges: Misdemeanor or Felony?
Shoplifting is a Class 3 misdemeanor unless it is the second shoplifting charge in three years. If so, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Any other theft of property of $1,000 or less is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
You will be charged with Class H felony larceny for theft of any property or services valued at more than $1,000.
Regardless of the value of the stolen property, even if it is under $1,000, you will face a Class H felony charge if you steal the property from someone’s person, steal it by breaking and entering, or take any firearm, explosive device, or document from the state archives.
What Penalties Might I Face?
The penalty for a Class 3 misdemeanor is usually a suspended jail sentence with completion of 24 hours of community service. A Class 2 increases jail time and/or community service to 72 hours. A Class 1 misdemeanor could put you in jail for one day or up to 45 days. Class H felony convictions can result in jail terms of four to eight months.
For shoplifting, you could face civil penalties, including payment of actual damages based on the stolen property, punitive damages, or payment of a store owner’s legal and other fees. Damages can range from $150 to $1,000.
What Are Some Potential Defenses?
North Carolina statute states that transfer or possession of stolen property can be charged if you knew or should have known the property in question was stolen. Therefore, providing proof that you had no knowledge it was stolen could be a defense against these types of charges.
Criminal defenses against shoplifting charges include claiming that you accidentally left the store with something, or that someone else placed the item in your pocket, bag, or backpack.
In some cases, challenging ownership of the alleged stolen property could be a strong defense. For example, you could prove that the property you took belongs to you and not to the person who possessed it at the time.
Finally, your attorney may be able to challenge the value of the property, which might mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.
A seasoned criminal defense lawyer, especially one who has spent time on the other side of the courtroom prosecuting those charged with larceny offenses, will explore every potential defense you can use to challenge theft charges.
Theft Attorney Serving Gastonia, North Carolina
As with any criminal charge, theft charges can be challenged. At The Law Office of Eddie L. Meeks, PLLC, I believe everyone deserves aggressive legal defense inside and outside the courtroom. That is what I deliver for my clients in and around Gastonia, North Carolina, every single day. If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony larceny charge, we should talk about your defense. Call my office now to schedule a consultation.