What Is the Shoplifting Penalty in North Carolina?


Shoplifting is a common offense prosecuted in North Carolina courts. How you are charged in this offense, however, will depend on various factors. Charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the circumstances of the incident. Either way, if you are convicted, you can face criminal penalties that can include jail time, fines, restitution, and a life going forward with a permanent criminal record that can negatively affect your life for the long term.

In North Carolina, no law exists that covers the term “shoplifting.” Instead shoplifting falls under the general heading of larceny of goods. That means you took the goods or property without consent and with the intention to deprive their owner of them. When it comes to shoplifting, you can be charged in different ways, however, depending on where you were located when apprehended for the offense.

These categories are:

  • Concealment of goods; this will apply if you were apprehended while in the store where you took the merchandise or
  • Larceny of goods; this will apply when you have left the store and are then apprehended
  • Organized retail theft; this occurs when you conspire with someone else to steal merchandise valued above $1,500 accumulated within 90 days with the intent to later sell it

Concealment of Goods

This offense includes transferring price tags on merchandise as well as concealing it. Your penalties will be determined by various factors such as whether you have prior offenses. A first offense is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor that generally involves 24 hours of community service. A second offense occurring within three years of a first conviction is charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor which generally involves at least 72 hours of community service. A third offense within five years of two previous offenses will be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. It is punishable by a minimum of 11 days in jail.

Larceny of Goods

Stealing goods or services valued at $1,000 or less is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This is a more serious charge that carries penalties of one up to 45 days of jail time. If the value of the goods or services is more than $1,000, you will face a Class H felony charge. This Class of felony is always charged in cases where a firearm is stolen or when it involves breaking and entering.

The penalty for a Class H felony in North Carolina can include a jail sentence of four to eight months.

Organized Retail Theft

Organized retail theft as described above is charged as a Class H felony punishable as stated above. If the organized theft involved merchandise valued above $20,000, it will be charged as a Class G felony punishable by eight to 31 months in prison.

Civil Penalties

In a shoplifting offense, you may also be subject to a civil lawsuit by the store owner seeking damages. You may be liable for actual damages which would constitute the value of the merchandise stolen, punitive damages, which are meant as a financial punishment, and compensation to the victim for attorney fees. All of these can amount to up to $1,000.

Client-Focused Legal Representation

A shoplifting charge can not only lead to criminal penalties, it can result in a permanent criminal record as you go forward in life. This can damage your chances for future employment, housing, and more. To get the best possible result in any shoplifting case, you should bring in a skilled criminal defense lawyer. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC, our legal team has decades of combined experience in handling such charges.

Contact us at (704) 931-5535 to arrange for a free consultation about your case.