You’ve been arrested for shoplifting. Maybe it was a miscommunication, maybe you couldn’t help yourself. For most people in North Carolina, a first offense will probably land you a fine…and the penalty of public shame.
There’s only one problem. You’ve already been convicted of shoplifting before.
So what should you expect this time?
Second Convictions in North Carolina Come With Stronger Penalties
State laws take into account that someone’s first crime may just be their last. The penalties for a first shoplifting conviction (which can include up to 10 days in jail) are often enough to deter an offender from further crimes.
The judge may even let you off easy, giving you a single day in jail. Don’t expect anything less than an attitude shift when you’re in front of the judge again.
A second conviction of any crime always comes with stronger penalties. This rule applies to assault, arson, criminal damage to property – and shoplifting.
How Is “Shoplifting” Charged in North Carolina?
If you have been through this process before, you probably remember the charges you faced. North Carolina initially charges theft of property as:
- Larceny of Property, or
- Concealment of Merchandise
That isn’t to say you won’t face additional charges (which are mentioned throughout this blog post).
Defendants who successfully take merchandise out of the store will most likely be charged with Larceny of Property.
If you were caught hiding items while you were still in the store, you can expect to be charged with Concealment of Merchandise.
In North Carolina, these laws only apply if your first conviction was within the last three years. Otherwise, you should be off the hook…although a judge may still take an old conviction into consideration when determining your sentence.
Penalties After Two Convictions of Concealment of Merchandise
North Carolina law states that if a person is convicted of concealing merchandise a second time (in three years), they will be subject to 60 days maximum in jail.
Depending on the judge, and your case, you may have the option of serving your sentence on probation or while completing community service.
These are the typical penalties for any Class 2 misdemeanor charge.
A North Carolina defense lawyer can give you options for accepting a deal concerning this conviction. Their counsel will also be able to help you get the shortest possible sentence.
What About a Third Conviction?
Your third conviction (within five years) comes with even more severe penalties. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.
According to North Carolina law, a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to four months in prison. You will be required to spend at least 11 days behind bars.
When Is Shoplifting a Felony in North Carolina?
So far, we have only been discussing charges for concealing merchandise. There are actually a number of additional charges that fall under the umbrella of shoplifting. Most of them are felonies.
Felony theft charges include:
- Larceny of Property (if the merchandise involved was valued at over $1,000)
- Using or possessing tools with the intention of evading an antitheft device
- Using the emergency exit to shoplift at least $200 in goods
- Removing or altering an antitheft device
- Attaching a false price tag
- Conspiring to steal $1,500-plus in merchandise with the intention to sell that property (or organized retail theft)
- Receiving or possessing any merchandise with the knowledge that it was stolen in an organized retail theft crime
These are all Class H felonies. A single conviction could result in between 4-25 months in prison. You also get two “points” on your criminal record.
Those two “points” will impact a second or third conviction. The points add up. North Carolina judges use those points, as well as the type of felony you are charged with, to determine your sentence.
When a judge is looking at a misdemeanor retail theft case, they are primarily concerned with prior concealment of merchandise charges. Other misdemeanors won’t impact your sentence.
With felonies, however, things are different. If you have points from any other felonies (including violent crimes, traffic violations, etc.) you may face a more severe sentence. How much more severe? It depends on how many points you have on your record.
Calculating your sentence alone can be confusing. Your best bet is to talk to a defense lawyer about what type of penalties to expect if you are convicted.
Your Best Bet? Fight Every North Carolina Shoplifting Charge
The penalties for a first conviction may appear to be a slap on the wrist – until it comes back to bite later.
The solution? Fight hard against your charges every time.
If you are able to avoid conviction the first time around and wind up arrested again, you’ll appreciate the fact that previous charges won’t impact your potential sentence.