If you face theft charges, called larceny in NC, you’re probably wondering what that means for your future. A conviction could mean life-changing consequences, whether the charges are embezzlement, shoplifting, fraud, or robbery. A felony conviction could end your life as you know it. Let’s look at when theft is a felony.

Felony vs Misdemeanor

A felony conviction could mean you lose your ability to: 

  • Vote 
  • Own firearms
  • Buy a home
  • Get a job 
  • Your freedom, i.e., you could go to prison

However, a misdemeanor only costs your reputation and job prospects, not your right to vote or own a firearm.

What Makes Theft a Felony?

If the value of the property you steal is worth more than a certain amount, you face felony charges. NC law bases felony charges on: 

  • How much you are stealing: Is it worth more than a specified amount?
  • What you are stealing: Gas and firearm thefts are always a felony.
  • How you steal it: Did you break and enter?
  • Who you steal from: Did you steal from your employer? 

Theft of Property

If the property you steal is worth more than $1,000, the law classifies the offense as a Class H felony. If the property is worth less than $1,000, the law classifies the offense as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

If a friend steals a pair of headphones valued at $995 and you accept them as a gift, knowing (or even if you should have known) they are stolen, you can also face a misdemeanor charge. However, if the same headphone’s value is $1,295, you face a Class H felony charge.

When Cheap is Expensive

Sometimes, the way that you steal something gets you in the most trouble. For example, if you break into a neighbor’s house to steal almost worthless headphones, you still face felony charges. They could be dollar store earbuds, but breaking and entering brings a Class H felony charge. 

Taking cheap earbuds from your friend’s purse is also a felony. Any time you steal by breaking and entering or by taking something from another person, you’ve committed a felony crime.

Felony Theft Items

There are specific things that the law always recognizes as a felony if you steal them. Larceny of these items is a felony no matter how much they are worth:

  • Motor fuel (Class F felony with a prison sentence of 4-25 months)
  • Explosive devices or firearms (Class H felony with a prison sentence of 10-41 months)
  • A record in the custody of North Carolina State Archives
  • Larceny of a vehicle part (if the cost of vehicle repair is $1,000 or more is Class I felony)
  • Conspiring to commit theft of retail property worth more than $1,500 over a 90-day period, with the intent to sell through a retail property fence or another person

Stealing From Your Company

North Carolina law takes stealing from an employer very seriously. Any theft from a company is a felony. The penalties for theft from your employer could also place you in prison for a long time. 

If the value of what you steal from a company is over $100,000, police charge you with a Class C felony. Stealing a piece of artwork from the company lobby worth $155,000 is a Class C felony. This class of felony involves prison sentences of 44 to 182 months. That is 3.5 to 15 years in prison!!

However, stealing something worth less than $100,000 is a class H felony. For example, if you like the computers at your office and decide to take an extra one worth $399, you could be charged with a Class H Felony. Because the value of the property is under $100,000, the Class H felony class applies. Consequences often include 10-41 months in prison.

Many employees choose to steal money from their company. The law classifies this crime as embezzlement. Choosing to skim income off the top of the books or edit the accounting to make it look like the company makes less while you take home more is embezzlement. More than $100,000 embezzlement is a Class C felony, while less than $100,000 is a class H felony.

You Have Rights

If you face theft charges, you need an expert defense team. Whether you face misdemeanor or felony level charges, a criminal record is worth fighting against. Our criminal defense attorneys at Hopler, Wilms, and Hanna thoroughly investigate your case from every angle, looking at whether someone gave you consent or you had a legal property right. We also consider entrapment and other possible defense strategies. We walk with you through every step of your case until we get your best outcome. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

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