North Carolina has many different 'property crimes' on the book. As a Raleigh Criminal Attorney and Durham Criminal Attorney, I have seen most of the various types of the charges that a Defendant can face. The State can charge a defendant with Larceny, Conversion, Injury to Personal Property, Injury to Chattel, Shoplifting, Possession of Stolen Goods, Receiving Stolen Goods, Embezzlement and Obtaining Property by False Pretense as well as a many other various types of these 'property crimes.' Though evidence in these types of cases can be tricky, a quality attorney can normally mount a good defense. This article will address North Carolina's Larceny charge. Larceny is a common charge used when a Defendant takes the goods of another. Though that very rough definition can be used to describe other property crimes it's be basis of North Carolina Misdemeanor Larceny.
Under this crime, the State must prove the following: 1. The Defendant took personal property in the possession of another, 2. And carried it away 3. Without the consent of the possessor and 4. With the intent to deprive the possessor of its use permanently, 5. Knowing that the taker was not entitled to it. The State must also show that the items in questions had a monetary value and that that total value was less than $1000.00.
To start with, a good defense would be if the items in question were not actually personal property, but rather real property. Real property is essentially anything attached to land or a home, like a fence, mailbox, shutters, etc.
The second and third elements, to carry away without consent can normally be brought out in the alleged 'victim's' testimony, but it's not always clear. A recent client was charged with this crime, but the State was unable to prove that the items that were missing were ever in my client's possession.
The last two elements, elements 4 and 5 are where most Larceny defenses are made. The state must show the 'taking' by the Defendant was with the intent to permanently deprive the victim of the item AND with the knowledge that they were not entitled to it. So it is not enough that the Defendant took the goods away without having any intent to return them, but also the State must prove that the Defendant KNEW that they were not entitled to the goods. This may seem a silly concept in most larceny cases, but since the burden is on the State to prove their case 'beyond a reasonable doubt' it is up to the State to show the Defendant had the intent to take the items, the intent to permanently deprive the victim of the items, and that they did not have a reasonable belief that they had the right to take the items.
That's not to say the State must provide the court with concrete evidence of a Defendant's intent in these cases, as intent can be inferred from the Defendant's actions; but it is still an avenue for a potential defense.
If you are facing a North Carolina Larceny charge or any other Misdemeanor or Felony charge, speak with a local North Carolina Criminal Lawyer for advice on how to proceed on your individual case.
Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.