« Back To Blog Posts

Larceny vs Theft: What’s the Difference?

“Larceny” and “theft” are often used interchangeably to describe property crimes where a person illegally takes and carries away the property of another without permission. However, the appropriate term to use depends on state law.

Read on to learn more about larceny to understand what it means to be charged with this crime and what consequences you may face if convicted.

What is the Difference between Larceny and Theft?

Broadly speaking, “theft” is an umbrella term that includes all different kinds of criminal stealing, including identity theft, theft of intellectual property, theft of services and theft of personal property. Meanwhile, “larceny” is considered one type of stealing under the general category of theft. The term is more narrowly defined as the theft of personal property capable of being possessed and carried away. 

When speaking in legal terms, however, the definition and usage of “theft” and “larceny” are determined by the state. The variations between these terms makes it especially important for you to consult an experienced defense attorney to understand how the crime is defined in the jurisdiction in which you are charged. 

How Does North Carolina Define Larceny and Theft?

Under North Carolina law, larceny is defined as the taking of another person’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property  (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14.72.). The term “theft” is not mentioned anywhere in our state’s criminal statutes.

Larceny Statues in NC

North Carolina criminal statutes identify common larceny offense, including:

  • Receiving or possessing stolen goods (§ 14-71, 14-71.1.)
  • Concealment of merchandise in a store ( § 14-72.1.)
  • Shoplifting from a merchant ( § 14-72.3.)
  • Larceny by employee (§ 14-74.) 
  • Larceny of gasoline at a service station ( § 14-72.5.)
  • Chop shop activity (§ 14-72.7.)
  • Felony larceny of motor vehicle parts ( § 14-72.8.).

What are the Classifications and Penalties for Larceny?

North Carolina law does not make a distinction between “petty larceny” or “grand larceny”. Instead, this offense is charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the property taken and the type of item. Below are the type of larceny charges you could face. 

Misdemeanor Larceny – In most cases, theft of property that is worth $1,000 or less is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Concealing merchandise in a store for purposes of shoplifting may be a Class 2 or 3 depending on the number of convictions.

Felony Larceny – Theft of property worth more than $1,000 is a Class H felony; or the theft must meet other specific requirements, such as robbery of a person, burglary, the theft of an explosive or firearm, or a record in the custody of North Carolina State Archives. The following offenses are also classified as felonies:

  • Receiving or possessing stolen goods valued over $1,000 if the accused knew or had reason to know that the goods were stolen (Class H)
  • Larceny by employees if the property involved is valued at $100 or more (Class C felony) or less than $100 (Class H felony)
  • Larceny from a construction site or motor vehicle parts (Class I felony)
  • Chop shop activity (Class G felony)

Penalties – North Carolina looks at a defendant’s prior criminal history and the facts of the case when determining the appropriate punishment or the “presumptive range” of a jail sentence, which could range between 4 to 25 months. 

Talk to a Defense Attorney about Your Larceny Case

The punishment for larceny in North Carolina has an extremely wide range of jail time depending on your criminal record or the circumstances. With the help of an experienced NC defense attorney, your charges could be possibly reduced, dropped or dismissed based on your case. Contact Manning Law today to get started.

Taylor Manning
The content on this page was reviewed by Manning Law Firm, PLLC partner Taylor Manning. You can learn more about Taylor's experience and expertise on his bio page.