Although many of us tend to use the terms interchangeably, theft and robbery are two different crimes in North Carolina. As such, theft and robbery crimes are typically prosecuted and penalized very differently.
In our state, theft refers to a variety of criminal activities involving the unlawful taking of money or other property from another individual or business.
Robbery also involves the unlawful taking of someone else’s property, but with one key difference. To constitute robbery, the action must be committed in the presence of the victim.
To understand more about how theft differs from robbery in North Carolina, we have outlined key aspects of our state’s laws governing these types of crimes.
Theft and Larceny Laws in North Carolina
In North Carolina, criminal courts often classify theft crimes as “larceny.” As noted, theft (or larceny) laws cover a wide range of criminal offenses here.
While our state may recognize many different types of larceny, they typically all have to do with the illegal taking of property from another person or business with the intention of permanently depriving them of that property.
However, unlike robbery, theft and larceny crimes do not generally occur in the presence of the victim. Some of the most common examples of North Carolina larceny crimes include:
- Receiving or possessing stolen goods
- Shoplifting or concealing merchandise within a store
- Removing a shopping cart from shopping premises
- Unlawfully taking and carrying away motor fuel from a gas station
- Larceny of motor vehicle parts
Theft or larceny crimes inside state lines are also typically categorized according to the value of the allegedly stolen property. The different levels of theft or larceny crimes in North Carolina include the following:
Class 3 or Class 2 Misdemeanor Larceny
Most shoplifting offenses in North Carolina are classified as either a Class 3 or Class 2 misdemeanor larceny. In our state, you may be charged with shoplifting or “concealing merchandise” if you are caught with concealed goods before you leave the store.
A first-time shoplifting conviction in North Carolina may initially be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor. In many cases with a Class 3 misdemeanor, you may be able to avoid jail time if you perform 24 hours of community service.
However, if you are of shoplifting a second time within three years of a previous conviction in North Carolina, you may be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. In this instance, you may be required to spend 72 hours in jail or perform an equal amount of community service.
In both instances, you may have to compensate the store owner for the value of the merchandise and their attorney fees, in addition to paying punitive damages.
Class 1 Misdemeanor Larceny
You may be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor larceny crime in North Carolina if you are found guilty stealing property or services valued at $1,000 or less.
The penalties for a first offense for this type of crime may include incarceration for one to 45 days. If you are facing these charges for a second (or more) time, talk to your attorney about possible penalties.
Class H Felony Larceny
A Class H felony larceny crime conviction in North Carolina means you are found guilty stealing property or services with a $1,000+ value.
However, you may also be convicted of a Class H felony larceny regardless of the value of the property or services stolen if any of the following apply:
- You stole property from another person’s body
- You committed the theft by breaking or entering
- The property you stole was a firearm, explosive device, or any record or paper belonging to the North Carolina State Archives
The penalties for Class H felony larceny may include incarceration from four to eight months, but with the right lawyer, a first offense may be limited to between one and 45 days.
Robbery Laws in North Carolina
As we discussed, robbery crimes may be similar to theft crimes but are typically classified as a more serious crime.
As with theft, robbery crimes usually involve the illegal taking of property from another person or business with the intention of permanently depriving them of that property.
That being said, a robbery is an act of theft committed in the presence of a victim and through the use of violence, intimidation, or threat of force.
Some of the most common examples of North Carolina robbery crimes include:
- Robbery at common law
- Robbery with firearms or dangerous weapons
- Train robbery
North Carolina typically classifies these and other robbery crimes as felonies. Robbery with a firearm or dangerous weapon and train robbery are both classified as Class D felonies. Other types of robberies are typically classified as Class G felonies.
The penalties for a Class D robbery felony may land you in prison for more than five years, while a Class G robbery felony conviction often results in a prison sentence or supervised probation between 10 and 13 months.
If you have questions regarding your specific theft or robbery charges, reach out to an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney for advice.