We are wrapping up our discussion about the crime of shoplifting in North Carolina. As we said in our last two posts, the state takes shoplifting seriously: A conviction carries the possibility of jail time. A conviction will also show up in the offender’s criminal background check, scotching hopes of employment, and not only in retail establishments.
Under structured sentencing, the court must take into consideration both the severity of the crime and the number of prior offenses on the defendant’s record. As we said in our last post, a record of more than two shoplifting convictions in the last five years increases the charge to a Class 1 misdemeanor. This means a minimum of 11 days in jail.
However, if the offender has spent any time in jail waiting for bail or trial, the first 24 hours of that time does not count toward the sentence. Parole is not an option until the offender has served the mandatory minimum. If the court orders jail time, the offender must serve the minimum.
A few important points: First, we are talking about shoplifting by concealment. If a gun is involved or the offender is a juvenile or an employee, the penalties are different. Second, a suspect need not leave the store to face charges.
And third, if a store owner, a store employee or a peace officer detains a suspect on a reasonable suspicion of shoplifting, the suspect cannot sue for damages. If the person detained is under 18, the person who is detaining the suspect must make a reasonable effort to contact the suspect’s parent or guardian. If there is a reasonable effort, the suspect or his parent or guardian cannot sue for damages.
Suing for damages brings us to our last point: The victims of shoplifting can sue for damages even if there is no conviction. The award will be at least $150 and no more than $1,000 for both compensatory and consequential damages.
As we said, a charge of shoplifting is a lot more complicated than you may think. Any jail time served will remain on the offender’s criminal record, and there is also the threat of civil liability. If you find yourself or your child charged with concealment, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.