Shoplifting, Concealment and Larceny

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The charges for shoplifting, concealment, and larceny can all range from a simple infraction or misdemeanor to a felony. Depending on that state’s criminal law and what is stolen or concealed, the penalty could be anywhere from a small fine to multiple years in jail. Shoplifting is deliberately and unlawfully taking items that belong to someone else without permission. When being convicted of shoplifting, if the merchandise is valued below $1,000, the person is usually charged with a misdemeanor and anywhere from 20 to 120 days in jail and a $200 to $2,000 fine.

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According to the laws of North Carolina, shoplifting and larceny are considered separate crimes. The less serious offense is always a misdemeanor, while larceny, depending on the circumstances can be deemed a felony or a misdemeanor. In North Carolina, the details of the crime determine the outcome of your case. The primary difference between shoplifting and larceny is that while the first entails stealing from a business or organization, while the second involves theft from a person or a business.

Larceny or shoplifting convictions can carry significant consequences. In addition to the punishment and conviction by the court, a theft conviction goes on you record causing hardship when trying to obtain employment, credit, a loan, or even an apartment. Under shoplifting, the changes can also differ if you were charged with concealment or larceny. When charged with concealment of merchandise, the person attempting to shoplift is usually apprehended on store property before they have taken the stolen items off the premises. Getting convicted of concealing can mean many things, from willfully hiding merchandise within a store that has not been paid for to altering price tags on items to pay a lower price when checking out. For first time offenders, concealment of merchandise is entered as a Class 3 Misdemeanor, the lowest misdemeanor level in North Carolina. And although this is the lowest, the person charged could still a maximum of 20 days in jail. Along with possible jail time, the person convicted also has to complete up to 24 hours of community service.

The penalties for ongoing offenses become more and more forbidding. For second convictions of concealment of merchandise within three years, the convicted are charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor. The penalties could be up to 60 days in jail along with a 72-hour community service requirement. The highest misdemeanor conviction is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If the person is convicted again for a third time within five years, they could face a maximum of 120 days jail time. Whether someone is charged with a Class 3 or Class 1 Misdemeanor, they still have to pay a number of court fines and fees along with their sentencing.

There are more serious shoplifting convictions. Unlike concealment, larceny is the ‘unlawful taking and carrying away of the property of another person with the intent to permanently deprive them of its use”. Larceny can be considered either a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor larceny happens when an individual:

  • Steals personal property from someone else
  • Takes away the property
  • Has the intent to ‘permanently deprive the possessor”
  • Knows the property does not belong to them

Under North Carolina law, larceny can develop into a felony under certain situations such as:

  • When property is valued above $1,000
  • When the larceny includes burglary or breaking and entering
  • Theft of a firearm
  • Stealing from your employer

Many factors are taken into account before one is convicted of larceny when it comes to goods including, the total price of the items stolen, how the items were taken from the store and what the items are. Someone would be charged with a Class H Felony if the total price of the goods removed from the store is over $1,000. If the goods stolen are valued under $1,000, that would be classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. A Class H Felony could result in up to 39 months in jail, unlike a Class 1 Misdemeanor which could be up to a 120-day sentencing.

Another factor that determines whether someone could be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor is how the items were removed from the store. Like if a lined bag was used to prevent an antitheft device from activating or the device was removed from the item. On the other hand, if a weapon were involved in the act of larceny, the person would be convicted of a Class H Larceny no matter the price value of the items taken. Goods stolen straight from an individual instead of from a store could also be considered as a felony. As well as someone who has had four or more previous charges of larceny or shoplifting will face a felony conviction, even if the value of the things stolen is far below $1,000.

This experience has affected my life in so many ways, but if it wasn’t for the Misdemeanor Diversion Program I don’t know what I would have done. I just graduated from cosmetology school this past month and if this charge was on my record, the almost two years I spent in school and the money that I spent on this education would have been for nothing. I would not have been able to take my exam to get my cosmetology license, much less find a job in the beauty industry. I just didn’t realize how much I was risking just to get something I didn’t even need.

Ever since I was young, I was always taught that stealing was wrong, and I believed that. But until this happened, I never realized how selfish stealing is. I did not consider the potential consequences – how it would affect the employees, the business itself, as well as my family, friends, and my future. My reason for stealing wasn’t that I didn’t have the money, or even that I wanted what I stole all that badly, it was that some of my friends I was hanging out with had stolen before and didn’t get caught. My reason for stealing was completely selfish. After this experience, I’ve realized that the consequences of stealing are just not worth the cost, and to never steal or give in to peer pressure again.

I have learned a great deal about myself during this whole journey. First of all, I learned that I am not a deceitful person, but shoplifting is dishonest and deceitful. I have also learned that whatever you are stealing or why you are stealing is not worth what you lose. It’s not worth losing certain freedoms and privileges that I didn’t appreciate before this happened. I learned that what I do affects more than just myself. It affects the people around me too. It affects friends and family and it also affects the choices anyone makes from then on. The cost of stealing is far greater than anything that could be obtained. It changes the way people perceive you, the way they trust you, accept you, engage with you. There is nothing worth the cost that could possibly be gained from stealing anything. Stealing is not just something you do. It can become who you are by changing your character.

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Shoplifting, Concealment and Larceny. (2021, Mar 08). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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