Difference Between Misdemeanor Larceny vs. Felony Larceny

A criminal charge of misdemeanor or felony larceny is nothing to take lightly. Being labeled a dishonest person or a thief comes with real consequences. And jail time and other punishments are just the beginning. A conviction can affect your ability to find employment in the future and also ruin your reputation. If you're accused of larceny, you need to know what you’re facing and what the penalties could be. Armed with accurate information and a good attorney, you can defend yourself and your good name.

What is larceny?

Larceny is when someone takes another person’s property without that person’s permission. The term isn’t specifically defined in North Carolina criminal statutes, but those laws do outline specific types of larceny such as shoplifting, concealing merchandise in a store and driving away from a service station without paying for gasoline. The following elements determine if an action is considered larceny:

  • A person (perpetrator) takes the personal property of another person (victim)
  • The perpetrator carries the property away.
  • The victim does not give consent for the property to be taken.
  • The perpetrator intends to deprive the victim of the property permanently.
  • The perpetrator knows it is not his or her property to take.

Here is an example. An employee steals office supplies from his employer. He takes the office supplies home to use for a side job he conducts out of his residence. Does this act meet the elements of larceny? Yes, this act constitutes larceny by employee. The employee takes the property of another person, his employer, without that person’s consent. He takes the property away from the place of business with the intent of permanently keeping it. The employee knows he is not allowed to take office supplies for personal use.

Moving from misdemeanor to felony

Acts of misdemeanor larceny and felony larceny both must meet the elements described above. In order for an act to jump from a misdemeanor to a felony, one of the following circumstances must apply:

  • The value of the property is more than $1,000.
  • The property was taken directly from a person.
  • The larceny occurred in connection with breaking into or out of a building.
  • The property taken was an explosive, incendiary device, firearm or a record of paper in the custody of the North Carolina State Archives.

Larceny by employee, however, is a felony, no matter the value of the property stolen.

Penalties for larceny

Misdemeanor larceny carries up to 120 days in jail. Felony larceny carries a sentence of four to 30 months. In many cases, judges order first-time offenders to perform community service instead of time in jail. In any situation, a judge looks at the convicted criminal’s history to determine an appropriate sentence. People who have past convictions are more likely to get harsher sentences than those who have just experienced their first brush with the law.

Defending yourself against a larceny charge

If you find yourself accused of larceny, you need the representation of a qualified attorney. Contact with Jason Reece using this form, or call 704.714.8888 to set up a free consultation.