The Theft Crime of Larceny in North Carolina


In North Carolina there are several different types of theft-related crimes, ranging from the lowest level misdemeanors, such as misdemeanor shoplifting or unlawful concealment, all the way up to high level felony charges, like armed robbery.  One of the most common theft crimes in North Carolina is the crime of larceny. 

Larceny (commonly known as “stealing”) is what most people think of first when they think of theft related crimes.  Larceny is defined as the taking of property from another’s lawful possession, with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property.  This language can be broken down into the following elements:

“Taking of property”

  • “Taking” is the action that most people think of when they think of stealing. It is the actual picking up and carrying away of the item in question. 
  • “Taking” can also be a much simpler action, such as moving the item a short distance from its original or rightful location, it all depends on intent. 

“That was in another person’s lawful possession”

  • This element is important because it doesn’t just mean whoever owns the property; it means whoever is in rightful possession of the property. 
  • This element does not exclude the owner of the property. When in a store, if you place an item in your basket, you are in possession of the item.  If you then leave the store and fail to pay for that item, the owner of the store remains the party in lawful possession of the item and you could be charged with larceny. 

“With the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property”

  • This element is very important because in some cases, it can mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor.
  • When prosecuting these kinds of crimes, the government will often prove this element through the actions of the defendant.  For example, if the defendant takes a car from a mechanic’s shop and takes it to a junkyard to be sold as scrap metal and be crushed, the government will use the fact as proof of the person’s intent.

Will I be charged with Misdemeanor larceny or felony larceny?

  • The government will look at two factors when determining whether to charge you with a Misdemeanor or a Felony.
  1. The value of the item(s) – here the government will look at how much the item(s) you stole were worth; if the value is less than $1,000.00 then you can be charged with a misdemeanor. If the value is more than $1,000.00 then you will be charged with a felony, and;  
  1.  The items themselves – there are certain items that when stolen, will always result in a felony larceny charge, regardless of their value. Some of those items include: guns, cars, explosives, or any records from the state archives.

Speak with a lawyer immediately

Larceny convictions carry serious consequences; therefore, it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney right away.  Some of the potential consequences are:

  • A conviction goes on your permanent record – this means that it can be seen on a background check run by future employers or for housing.  A felony larceny conviction carries with it even more serious consequences such as; the loss of voting rights, the loss of the ability to possess firearms, and more. 
  • You may have to pay the victim restitution – restitution is where you have to pay the victim for any items that were taken that were not returned, damaged, or not able to be re-used or sold by the victim. 
  • There are often civil penalties that can arise from larceny cases – in many situations a larceny conviction doesn’t end in criminal court, often there are civil matters that lead to additional penalties and costs afterwards.

If you have any questions about a larceny charge, or any other theft related charge contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our knowledgeable Criminal Defense attorneys.