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A Simple Class 3 Misdemeanor Could End in a Felony and an Active Prison Sentence

I may be hard to believe, but a regular old shoplifting can turn into a Class G felony.

Shoplifting, or “concealment,” is typically a Class 3 misdemeanor, the lowest level criminal charge. A person guilty of this conceals merchandise from a retailer not purchased while in the store. It’s punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor (first offense), a Class 2 misdemeanor (two or more offenses within three years) or a Class 1 misdemeanor (three within five years).

This is the classic, young kid going into a store and putting a candy bar in his pocket. Keep in mind, in North Carolina, 16 year olds can be prosecuted as adults, so a 16 year old who shoplifts a candy bar, can be prosecuted as an adult and have a record. Two within two years, and it’s a Class 2. And so on.

But consider this. Let’s say that the 16 year old is leaving with the candy bar, and the store clerk grabs him by the coat, and the young person instinctively swings his fist at the clerk. That Class 3 misdemeanor, a misdemeanor that could likely be dismissed by a first offender program, has turned – at least arguably – into the Class G felony of Common Law Robbery.

The way I explain it to clients, a Common Law Robbery is essentially a larceny combined with an assault.

More specifically, a person guilty of this crime: (1) took the property from another in that person’s presence; (2) that the defendant property carried it away; (3) that the person from whom the property was taken did not consent to the taking; (4) that the defendant intended to deprive the owner of it permanently; (5) that the defendant knew he was not entitled to the property; and (6) that the taking was by violence or putting the person in fear.

Thus a simple shoplifting, a simple Class 3 misdemeanor – the lowest crime, can turn into a Class G felony, which has numerous immediate consequences – including active time, as well as collateral consequences.