Under North Carolina law, there are many different levels of theft and distinct crimes that carry a range of penalties. If convicted, not only could you face prison time, expensive fines, and the loss of certain rights, but a criminal record may impact your ability to obtain work and receive an education.
Fortunately, the experienced theft defense lawyers at King Law are standing by to assist. Our knowledgeable legal team understands the ins and outs of Asheville criminal law and may be able to protect your rights after an arrest. For further information about theft crimes and to secure a competent legal team to protect your rights, contact us today.
How is Theft Defined in Asheville?
In North Carolina, theft is more commonly referred to as “larceny” when referring to the official criminal code. The state classifies its larceny crimes according to the value of the property or services taken. Larceny encapsulates a variety of charges in which the perpetrator has the intent to deprive the actual owner of their property rights, which may include the following:
- Misdemeanor larceny: Property valued at less than $1,000
- Felony larceny: Property valued at more than $1,000
- Concealment of merchandise/shoplifting: A crime defined as concealing and subsequently stealing store goods on your person
Likewise, it’s also important to note that North Carolina doesn’t treat auto theft as a separate offense. Still, the state does have laws that criminalize the larceny of specific items such as gasoline and motor vehicle parts.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14.72 outlines larceny in North Carolina, though there is no official definition on file. Larceny can be boiled down as any crime in which the offender takes the property of another to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Classification and Penalties for Theft in Asheville
Note that larceny is considered a class H felony unless a statute specifically designates the crime as a misdemeanor or another level of felony.
- Class 1 misdemeanor larceny: For stolen property valued at less than $1,000—considered a Class 1 misdemeanor—the potential sentence is a jail term ranging from one to 45 days, assuming there are no prior convictions.
- Class H felony: Larceny of property or services valued at over $1,000—a Class H felony—may constitute a sentence of incarceration from four to eight months.
- Class 3 and Class 2 misdemeanor larceny: This encapsulates the concealment of merchandise (shoplifting). A first offense constitutes a Class 3 misdemeanor, which may lead to 24 hours of community service. A second offense within three years will constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor, which may lead to either 72 hours of jail time or community service.
It’s also important to note that, in addition to criminal penalties, you may be held civilly liable to the store owner for actual damages (compensation for the value of the merchandise or any damage to it), punitive damages (meant to punish the offender), and reimbursement of the store owner’s reasonable attorney fees.
Possible Defense Strategies after a Larceny or Theft Arrest in North Carolina
With the help of a best-in-class Asheville criminal defense attorney, you may be able to sidestep the full wrath of a larceny conviction. To do so, our team may be able to work with you to come up with a concrete defense strategy after your arrest. Some of the most common defense tactics for larceny in North Carolina include the following:
- Consent: Your lawyer may be able to argue that the owner of the property consented to you taking it.
- The belief of ownership or right to use: You can’t commit larceny if the property is your own or if you had the right to take it. You may be able to prove that you had an honest belief you could use or own the property in question.
- Intoxication: If you can establish you were drunk or high at the time of the incident, you may be able to successfully defend your charges. This is because, when an individual is intoxicated, they may not be able to form the required intent to steal.
- Entrapment: Entrapment is a crime in which law enforcement induces a person to commit a crime they otherwise would not have committed.
- Return of property: While returning stolen property isn’t necessarily a valid defense to a theft charge, returning the stolen property may make you appear more sympathetic to a prosecutor for the purposes of a possible plea deal.
Of course, every circumstance is different, and the unique defense strategy that makes the most sense in your situation will vary depending on the conditions of your matter. Our team will work hard to uncover the facts of your case to provide you with rock-solid protection.
Contact the Asheville Theft Defense Attorneys at King Law for Help Protecting Your Rights
An arrest for stealing property can be a frightening experience, especially if you’ve never been involved in the North Carolina criminal justice system. At King Law, our compassionate team understands the weight of the stress you may be under and is standing by to assist. We aim to protect your rights by fighting for a dismissal or reduction of charges. We’ll be with you every step of the way, working diligently to safeguard your reputation and future.
At King Law, we are the preeminent law firm in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. With years of experience defending clients just like you, our knowledgeable team is committed to caring for you, earning your trust every day, and telling you the truth. You can be confident your legal matter will be handled with absolute confidentiality and professionalism. For a consultation, call us at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING or complete our contact form today.