Property Offense, Theft, Shoplifting, Trespassing

Property Offense, Theft, Shoplifting, Trespassing

Property Offense Attorney in the Castle Hayne & Wilmington, NC area

In general, any person who takes or receives what does not belong to them may face Theft/Larceny charges. Generally, theft happens when a person takes someone else's property without their permission and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

So, if you go into a clothing store and take a pair of jeans, intending to keep them for your personal use and not return them, you are committing retail theft. But sometimes it's not so cut-and-dry. To learn more about specific types of theft and property crimes, visit the links at the top of the page.

If the value of the allegedly stolen material is valued at less than $1,000, the larceny charge will be a Class 1 Misdemeanor Larceny. If the value of the material is valued at $1,000 or higher, the charge will be a Class H Felony Larceny. A legal consultation can help you understand what charges you face.

4 Things You Should Know About Larceny in North Carolina.

1. "Theft" is actually referred to as "larceny." Our state's criminal statutes don't actually make a reference to theft. Instead, North Carolina refers to larceny as the crime. So someone allegedly commits larceny in North Carolina if they steal or take and carry away "any chattel, property, money, valuable security or other thing whatsoever with the intention to permanently keep it." That's a pretty broad definition.

2. The law does state certain offenses for which you can be accused of larceny. These offenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Receiving stolen goods represented as stolen
  • Possessing stolen goods
  • Removal of a shopping cart from shopping premises
  • Larceny of gasoline
  • Larceny of goods from a construction site
  • Chop shop activity
  • Larceny of motor vehicle parts
  • Removing security device from department store clothing
  • Shoplifting

Different Types Of Theft Crimes in North Carolina.

  • Shoplifting. Removing items from a retail store, switching price tags, or using lead-lined bags or purses to hide merchandise are all considered forms of theft.
  • Vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft theft. If you use someone's vehicle, motorcycle, aircraft, or water-borne craft without permission, you can be charged with theft.
  • Fuel theft. Yes, this is a specific form of theft under the law. Taking fuel from a pump without paying or removing containers of fuel from a home or business is punishable under North Carolina theft laws.
  • Firearms and explosive device theft. This includes an extensive list of items falling under the category of explosive or incendiary devices or substances. Firearms are defined as instruments that propel shots, shells, or bullets, so air rifles and pistols are not included.
  • Technical process theft. You may be charged with theft if you misappropriate knowledge entrusted to you by a company or service that was intended as a trade secret.
  • Public record theft. Anyone who steals or destroys public records, including wills and certification documents, may be subject to theft charges.
  • Dairy case theft. Cases or crates owned by dairy companies are protected under North Carolina theft laws. They cannot be taken or altered in any way.
  • Infant formula theft. Talk about stealing from a baby - if someone takes infant formula valued in excess of $100.00, they may be charged with misdemeanor theft. All kidding aside, baby formula is both expensive and necessary for many parents, which actually makes it one of the most stolen items.
  • Shopping cart theft. A retail store that makes shopping carts available for customers may file theft charges against someone who removes a cart from the store premises.
  • Theft of crops and other plants. In North Carolina, it is a crime to steal unharvested crops as well as other plants like ginseng and pine needles or straw. If you don't have express permission from the property owner, theft charges may apply.
  • Animal theft. Whether a person takes cattle or a domestic animal, charges of theft may be filed by the animal's owner.
  • Waste kitchen grease theft. A person is prohibited from taking waste kitchen grease from an establishment without permission from the property owner.
  • Theft of portable toilets and pump trucks. North Carolina law prohibits the seizure of either kind of item from the premises for which it was intended.

3. Property value matters. Our State "used to" distinguish between petty larceny - larceny of anything valued at less than $1,000 - and grand larceny - larceny of anything valued at over $1,000. But legislators have since changed the statutes so that all charges fall under the same definition and have specific penalties for each classification.

Now, if the value of stolen property is over $1,000, you will most likely be charged with a Class H felony. In some cases, you may be charged with a Class I felony (larceny from a construction site or motor vehicle parts) or a Class G felony (chop shop activity). If, however, the value of the stolen property is under $1,000, you will face Class 1 misdemeanor charges.

What other types of larceny aren't felonies? Removal of a shopping cart and stealing gas are Class 3 and Class 1 misdemeanors, respectively.

4. Your potential sentence depends upon your criminal history and the details surrounding your case. Although most larceny offenses are Class H felonies, the punishment has an extremely wide range of 4 to 39 months in jail. With such a difference between the maximum and minimum terms, North Carolina looks at a defendant's prior criminal history and the facts of the case when determining the appropriate punishment or the "presumptive range" of a jail sentence.

Someone without a criminal record, for example, would receive a sentence on the lower end of the range. Under the felony punishment chart, a first time larceny offender most likely would only get 5 to 6 months minimum up to 17 months of jail time. And with the help of an experienced attorney, your charges could be reduced further - or even dropped or dismissed.


Trespassing occurs when you are on someone else's property without their permission in defiance of a sign prohibiting persons on that property or having been told to stay off that property. Generally speaking, trespassing is a misdemeanor but jail time is still possible (depending on the facts and circumstances of the case).


This definition is the unlawful break or enter of the dwelling house of another while that residence is occupied by its owner or authorized person. There are two degrees of burglary:

1. If the break and entry occurs at night-time, in a place that a person uses as their sleeping quarters, and the entry is made with the intention to commit a felony therein, the offense is a class D felony, carrying with it a possible maximum sentence of 204 months in prison.

2. A lesser offense of burglary, known as SECOND DEGREE burglary, differs from first degree burglary in that the unlawful breaking and entry occurs during daylight hours. It is a class G felony which carries a maximum possible penalty of 31 to 50 months in prison.

Call William T. Peregoy now to arrange an appointment in the Wilmington and New Hanover County, NC areas.