Misdemeanor Larceny Attorney Greensboro, NC

What are the elements of Misdemeanor Larceny?

The following elements are necessary for the state to prove in order to convict someone of Misdemeanor Larceny in Greensboro, NC:

  1. Takes
  2. Personal Property
  3. In the Possession of Another AND
  4. Carries It Away
  5. Without the Consent of the Possessor AND
  6. With the Intent to Deprive the Possessor of its use Permanently
  7. Knowing that He or She was Not Entitled to It

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What level crime is Misdemeanor Larceny?

Misdemeanor Larceny is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and in North Carolina this is the second highest level misdemeanor a person can be charged with. Out theft lawyers in Greensboro handle misdemeanor larceny charges on a regular basis in the Guilford County court system and we’re here to help you with your case.

Can I go to jail for a Misdemeanor Larceny in Greensboro, NC?

The short answer is yes you can. A Class 1 Misdemeanor can lead to jail time and the amount of time hanging over your head will depend on your prior record level. Our Greensboro larceny lawyers understand the nuances of larceny cases and help protect you from jail time. A person charged with a Misdemeanor Larceny can receive up to 120 days in custody, but that’s only if they have 5 prior conviction dates in their past. If they have 0 – 4 prior convictions they can receive up to 45 days. This is why it’s important to consult with a top rated criminal lawyer at our law firm who understands how larceny and theft cases operate and how best to protect you through this process.

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What are Defenses to a Misdemeanor Larceny case?

The elements of Misdemeanor Larceny are above and there are a number of defenses to those elements. Let’s break them down one by one.

Taking means that the person must have the item or piece of property in their control. This can be only for an instant. To give an example, the courts found that a person took an air conditioner unit for purposes of larceny when they lifted it off of it’s stand and placed it on the floor. They were arrested at that point. Even though they took it, and it was only for a brief moment, that was enough for the state to meet the element of ‘takes’ for a larceny charge.

What is Personal Property for a Misdemeanor Larceny Charge?

Personal property in North Carolina is defined as money and various goods. Real property is a home or a piece of real estate. Now personal property can be attached to real property, such as an AC Unit, Cabinets in a house, etc.

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What does it mean to be in the Possession of Another for a Larceny Charge?

The property needs to have been in the possession of someone else or in the possession of a corporation. Important to note, when it comes to a misdemeanor larceny charge from a corporation, the phrasing of INC or something showing that the business is a legal entity is necessary part of the citation. If it just says the business name, such as Walmart, but that isn’t followed by Inc or something denoting that it’s a business entity, the warrant may very well be defective.

What does it mean to Carry Away for purposes of a Misdemeanor Larceny Charge?

Removing an item from the place where it was to another location, is typically enough for purposes of carrying away. You don’t even have to leave the premises of where you are. In the example above with the AC Unit, moving it to the floor is enough. If you have a drawer from a safe, and you’re walking toward the door and suddenly arrested by the police. You’ve carried away the contents of the safe even though you didn’t leave the house. Our Greensboro criminal lawyers handle these situations on a frequent basis and can craft a plan to protect you and your rights with these situations.

What is Without the Consent of the Possessor for a Misdemeanor Larceny Charge?

Consent, or someone saying you have a right to take a piece of property is a defense to any sort of larceny charge. However, if the person takes the stand and says you didn’t have consent it will be up to a judge and / or jury to determine if you had consent. Consent by trick, meaning a person was deceived into giving you the property is not consent. For instance, you ask to test out a person’s lawn mower to see if you want to buy it. You receive the item with the owner’s consent, but you never brought it back and intended to keep it, this would be a consent by trick situation, where you took the lawn mower with consent but tricked them into thinking you only wanted to use it. In this instance you can be charged with misdemeanor larceny of the lawn mower.

Intending to Deprive Someone Permanently for a Larceny Charge, what does that mean?

That means the taking must be with the intent of not giving it back. Merely having something with the purpose of returning it is not sufficient. Let’s say your neighbor let you borrow their lawn mower. You told him you were going to mow the lawn the next day and then bring it back to them. You borrow the lawn mower, police show up at  the next morning as your mowing your lawn and arrests you for larceny. There are a number of issues here, but for the permanent deprive part of it, that wasn’t your intent. Plus you had the consent of the possessor. This issue is factual though meaning that it will need to go in front of a judge to decide this issue, that is unless your neighbor is honest and acknowledges that you were given consent in the first place and you had advised you’d be returning it.

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But I thought I had a right to the Property; can I still be charged with Misdemeanor Larceny?

Yes, you can be charged but that doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. Remember, a person who honestly and earnestly believes that have a right to someone else’s personal property is not guilty of larceny, even if that belief is wrong. However, that belief must be reasonable. Without the reasonableness aspect any person could come to court and say they believed they had a right to it and the case would be dismissed. Imagine a person committing a larceny at Walmart. They take a video game. Arrested by the police leaving the store. Tells the police they honestly believed they had a right to it. That belief wouldn’t be reasonable and they would still be charged with misdemeanor larceny and most likely convicted if they took their case to trial.

What if they Charged my Misdemeanor Larceny Wrong?

One of the most common issues our misdemeanor larceny lawyers in Greensboro, NC run into is what’s called a fatal variance with the warrant. As we mentioned above, if a larceny occurs from a business, the warrant must include something denoting that it’s a business or legal entity. Merely putting the name of the business is not enough. For instance, charging for Larceny from Home Depot, but there’s nothing showing it’s a corporation, without an Inc. or some mention of the fact that it’s a business entity would make the warrant for larceny fatally defective. The reason for this is that the warrant must show that it’s a legal entity capable of owning property.

What’s the difference between a misdemeanor larceny and a felony larceny?

The difference is the value of the item taken. If it’s greater than $1,000 then it’s a felony larceny, but if it’s less than $1,000 then it’s a misdemeanor larceny.

I was caught with a bunch of items, can they charge me for misdemeanor larceny for each item?

If several items are taken at one time, then that’s one charge of misdemeanor larceny. However, if those items were taken from different places and / or at different times the person can be charged with misdemeanor larceny for each place and each time items were taken. For instance, a person is driving a van with stolen property in it. The stolen property came from three different houses. Police stop the van and find the property. And yes, we know, they didn’t catch the person taking it, however, they can still charge him for 3 separate counts of larceny, one for each house he is alleged to have taking things from.

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They charged me a with a bunch of crimes connected to one larceny case, can they convict me of all of them?

Our top rated lawyers in Greensboro, NC see this situation all of the time. Typically, when a person is caught with stolen property, they’re charged with larceny, possession of stolen goods and receiving stolen goods. These are totally separate offenses, however, if they’re charged for one theft, North Carolina courts have said that they can only be convicted of one of these charges and not all of them when it’s all part of a single incident or transaction. In the van example above, caught with property from 3 separate houses. They can be charged with larceny and possession of stolen goods from each house, however, they can only be convicted of one crime for each house. He wouldn’t be able to be convicted of both larceny and possession of stolen goods from the same house if it was part of the same incident.

If you’re interested in learning more about the law as it pertains to larceny charges, here’s a link to the statute on larceny: NCGS 14-72

Larceny and Theft related crimes are are some of the most common crimes found in the Court System. At Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law we understand the importance of protecting someone’s record when charged with these crimes. This concept of Larceny involves the wrongful obtaining of property of another, or as ‘some would have it,’ taking something that does not belong to you without permission. There are several crimes which fall under this backdrop of Theft Crimes or Larceny in North Carolina.

Misdemeanor Larceny charges form the core of what the justice system defines as Theft Crimes. Typically these charges happen at Stores such as Belk & JC Penny, or between neighbors, where one neighbor ‘Borrowed’ something and the other neighbor claims they never let them ‘borrow’ anything. For a Larceny charge to be a Misdemeanor the value of item taken has to be less than $1,000. If greater than $1,000, this would make the Misdemeanor Larceny a Felony Larceny. To be convicted of Misdemeanor Larceny the state must prove the larceny elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Take Personal Property of Another           3. Carry It Away       5. Knowing that it was Not Theirs To Take
  2. With Intent to Permanently Deprive        4. Without Consent

When it comes to Defending Larceny charges there are a number of Possible Defenses:

BELIEF OF OWNERSHIP – we’ve represented a number of clients who have been charged with Misdemeanor Larceny where they sincerely believed the item(s) in question were theirs, even though they may not have been. For example, someone goes into the grocery store and pays for items but the crate of waters at the bottom of their cart doesn’t get scanned but the cart-pusher thinks it’s been scanned and paid for. The cart-pusher gets outside and is approached by store representatives accusing them of Misdemeanor Larceny. Because the Cart-Pusher had a GOOD-FAITH BELIEF that they had paid for the property and they owned it, they cannot be guilty of Misdemeanor Larceny. This is true even if the GOOD-FAITH BELIEF was FALSE or UNREASONABLE. The Accused has the Burden of Proof when it comes to their Good-Faith Belief, and this is typically difficult to backup with evidence outside of general assertions.

CONSENT – the Third Element of Misdemeanor Larceny is this concept of NOT HAVING CONSENT to take the item. This being said, if the owner of property Consents to you having the property, then this is NOT A LARCENY. For instance, a Neighbor 1 gives a Lawn Mower to Neighbor 2, for use to mow their yard. Neighbor 2 is out mowing their yard when the police came out and state that they received a phone call from Neighbor 1 that someone had stolen their Lawn Mower. Because Neighbor 2 had CONSENT to have the Lawn Mower, he is NOT GUILTY of Misdemeanor Larceny.

DURESS – Duress is a common Defense to Crimes, which is where someone else forced our client to do something against their wishes. For Misdemeanor Larceny, this could involve threats, blackmail or assaultive behavior to force someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do. For instance, Two Guys are walking down the street and one of them is holding a knife. The Knife-holder tells the other guy that he wants a new mailbox, and the one in the yard in front of them would be perfect. The Knife-Holder tells the other guy that if he doesn’t get the Mailbox for him, he’s going to stab him. If the man took the mailbox, he would be committing a Misdemeanor Larceny, however because he was under the DURESS, or the threat of being Stabbed, he should not be Convicted of Misdemeanor Larceny.


    ENTRAPMENT – Entrapment is where someone induces, or causes someone to commit a crime they ordinarily would not commit. Typically this is seen when Law Enforcement have someone do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do. This is a fairly rare defense, because for it to be used, we would have to show that our client had no prior intent or thought process of committing the crime prior to committing it, even if the police were involved.

    What is the Punishment for a Misdemeanor Larceny?

    Misdemeanor Larceny is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, it’s Maximum Possble Punishment is 120 Days in Jail. Please contact our Lawyers for your Misdemeanor Larceny Case. Call us today at (336) 379-0539 or contact us to schedule a free, in-depth consultation.

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