Pulling pranks on friends and neighbors can be a good way to get some laughs going, but when your pranks result in felony charges, suddenly things aren’t so funny.
Earlier this year, Andrew Emilious Justice, 32, of Taylorsville, may have been laughing as he stole a 1,000 pound, 3-foot tall rooster statue from a poultry farm in Alexander County. Justice couldn’t move the statute himself, so he enlisted the help of a tractor on a late Saturday night.
Unfortunately, his prank didn’t go so well. A few miles down the road, the chicken was smashed and broken pieces were found throughout the road. The chicken statue was so large that the accident even damaged parts of the road itself. Oh, and the statue itself wasn’t cheap, either – the deputy involved in the case told news reporters that the statue was worth over $1,100.
Justice was arrested and charged after the alleged tractor involved was found in Taylorsville. He faces charges including felony larceny, misdemeanor injury to personal property, and reckless driving to endanger. He is being held on a $10,000 secured bond.
Felony charges for a simple prank? Unfortunately, under North Carolina law, theft is theft.
Stories like this can really put a damper on any future prank plans, but anyone who plans on stealing thousands of dollars worth of property should know the consequences they face for their actions.
Consequences of Theft in North Carolina
Theft crimes are known as “larceny” under North Carolina law. The charges for larceny are determined by the value of the goods or merchandise stolen, although past convictions and the type of stolen merchandise may also play into the charges.
If the goods stolen are valued at under $1,000, the offender may only face Class 1 misdemeanor charges. While a misdemeanor conviction is not the most serious offense in North Carolina’s books, a class 1 misdemeanor may still result in up to 45 days in prison. Other penalties may include community service or paying restitution to the victims of the theft. Plus, any conviction puts a stain on your criminal record.
Justice just missed the cut-off for a misdemeanor offense. Since the chicken statue was valued at over $1,000, the charges are bumped up to a felony offense. A Class H felony offense, to be exact.
Class H felonies are not the most serious offenses. While most states distinguish felonies as crimes that result in over a year of prison time, the penalties for Class H felonies in North Carolina do not exceed eight months. Typically, sentences stay around five to six months, but other factors could lengthen or shorten the sentence. Every case is unique.
Charged with Theft Crimes? Fight Back
It is fair to say that some “pranks” and acts of theft are done by mistake, or all in good fun. Justice may not have intended to break the statue, but now faces additional charges for what happened to the chicken. He could face years behind bars – all for driving off with a giant chicken statue.
If you are charged with theft crimes, you don’t have to spend time in prison. Fight back with a strong, purposeful, effective defense. Talk to a North Carolina theft crimes lawyer to learn more about defense strategies, your options, and how you can get your charges dropped without facing any jail time.
About the Author:
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.