North Carolina's larceny laws are specific to the unlawful taking and carrying away of another's property. Learn how state law defines, classifies, and punishes larceny offenses.
North Carolina retains the common law definition of larceny—the unlawful taking and carrying away of another's property without consent and with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of their property.
Most larceny offenses are classified as misdemeanors or felonies based on the value of the property stolen. In some instances, the type of property will determine the penalty. Misdemeanor larceny offenses are considered to be petty misdemeanors.
North Carolina has a general larceny statute that divides most larceny offenses into Class 1 misdemeanors and Class H felonies. Possessing or receiving stolen property carries the same penalties as larceny. There are also a number of larceny offenses that have different penalties, such as stealing motor vehicle parts, shoplifting, and concealing shoplifted items. (Consult the statutes for other specific larceny offenses.)
Below are larceny classifications and penalties. In addition to a sentence of imprisonment, judges can order a defendant to pay fines and restitution (compensation to the victim).
With some exceptions, larceny of property valued at $1,000 or less is a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. The same penalty applies to knowing possession or receipt of stolen property worth $1,000 or less. Assuming that an offender has no prior convictions, the potential sentence for a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina is a jail term ranging from one to 45 days.
Stealing or receiving stolen property valued at more than $1,000 is a Class H felony. The same Class H felony penalty applies in the following instances regardless of the value of the stolen property:
A person convicted of a class H felony faces 4 to 36 months' incarceration.
A person who steals motor vehicle parts commits a Class I felony if:
A Class I felony carries a 3- to 24-month prison sentence.
North Carolina makes the following shoplifting offenses Class H felonies:
The penalty for a Class H felony is 4 to 36 months' imprisonment.
In North Carolina, shoplifters who are apprehended before leaving the store can be charged with concealment of merchandise.
First offense. A first offense constitutes a Class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina, and the offender may receive only a suspended sentence of imprisonment, so long as the offender performs 24 hours of community service.
Second offense. A second offense committed within three years of the first offense will constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor under North Carolina law. In this case, a sentence of imprisonment will be suspended only on the condition that the offender serves 72 hours of jail, community service, or both.
Third or subsequent offense. Third or subsequent offenses committed within five years of two or more prior convictions will be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Probation is only allowed if the offender serves 11 days in jail.
Use of certain devices; felony. The penalty becomes a Class H felony if the shoplifter used a lined bag, lined clothing, or other device designed to circumvent the activation of anti-shoplifting devices.
If you're facing charges of larceny, talk to a criminal defense attorney. Even seemingly minor charges carry significant consequences. Jail time, fines, and restitution orders can add up quickly, and a criminal record follows you for a long time.
(N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-72, 14-72.1, 14-72.6, 14-72.11, 15A-1340.17, 15A-1340.23, 15A-1340.34 (2022).)