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Wilmington, NC Theft Lawyer

Have you been accused of stealing or possessing stolen property? Your first thought may be to defend yourself. You might think you can explain things to the police. This is never a good idea. People rarely talk themselves out of charges. Usually, it’s the opposite. Suspects many times give valuable information to law enforcement leading to their arrest. Instead, the best thing to do for yourself is to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer and let him speak to the police on your behalf. What your attorney says cannot be used to make a case against you. In many instances, a lawyer can prevent you from being charged or at least reduce your level of exposure.

Theft is a crime of dishonesty. The impact on your life is significant. Aside from time in custody and/or long periods of probation, employers shy away from hiring people with a theft conviction. Criminal defense attorney Thom Goolsby is here to help. With decades of experience in North Carolina, Attorney Goolsby has defended thousands of people. He knows how prosecutors think, work, and understands what it takes to get a theft case dismissed, reduced, or to be found not guilty.

Use Attorney Thom Goolsby’s knowledge and skill to pursue the best possible outcome. Call (910) 763–3339, send a text, or use our online form to request a free consultation.

Fighting Theft Charges in North Carolina

Larceny in North Carolina

There are several laws against theft (also known as larceny) in North Carolina under NC General Statutes (NCGS) §§14-70—14-86.2.

Theft was formally charged as either petty larceny or grand larceny, but NCGS §14-70 removed this distinction. Instead, larceny is now a Class H felony, though specific theft crimes may be charged as lessor or higher offenses.

For example, you can be charged with misdemeanor larceny if you are accused of taking, receiving, or possessing stolen goods worth less than $1,000. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the value is more than $1,000, you face felony larceny. You can also be charged with felony larceny if you are accused of stealing certain property, including explosives, an incendiary device, or a firearm.

Working with a criminal defense lawyer is particularly important if the value of the property is in dispute. A prosecutor may claim the value meets or exceeds the grand larceny amount of $1,000. Your attorney may be able to argue for the charges to be reduced to misdemeanor theft. Such a reduction allows you to fight a significantly lower-level charge where you do not risk a felony conviction.

Larceny by Deception or Trick

Not all theft crimes involve breaking into a store or home and removing items. You can also be charged with a felony due to theft by deception, also known as larceny by trick. You may be accused of making false statements or working under a false impression to gain access to money or property to which you would not otherwise have access. This type of theft relies on deceiving the victim, instead of stealing in secret or through force.

An example of larceny by deception is pretending to accept donations, then keeping those donations for yourself. Yet another example is entering into an agreement that you did not intend to uphold. Depending on the value and circumstance, theft by deception can be a misdemeanor or felony.


“I lost my carry concealed permit due to the misapplication of the law by law enforcement. My guns were taken from my home, and my permit was suspended. Thank you Thom Goolsby for standing up for the Second Amendment and my gun rights. You corrected the mistake of law enforcement, and I got my permit back. I appreciate your skill and advocacy.”

- Criminal Defense Client

“Thank you for walking me through the process for getting my open container and underage possession of alcohol charges dismissed. You arranged for a very simple deferred prosecution. It was easy to comply, and my record is now clean. I appreciate your excellent help!”

- Criminal Defense Client

I am so happy I hired him. I was charged with drug and paraphernalia possession. As a college student, I could not have these convictions on my record. I am so thankful I had Senator Goolsby representing me. He went into court, worked out a wonderful solution, and my charges were dropped.

- Criminal Defense Client

Read More Testimonials

We Defend Against All Types of Theft

At Goolsby Law Firm, we can defend you against:

Shoplifting (NCGS §14-72.1, 72.11)

Shoplifting in North Carolina is concealing merchandise in business establishments. If you intentionally conceal any goods or merchandise while in any store and do not pay for them, you can be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor. If you are accused of stealing property worth more than $200 or infant formula worth more than $100, by removing, destroying, or deactivating an anti-theft device, using an incorrect price tag, or exchanging stolen property for cash, you can be charged with a Class H felony.

Robbery (NCGS §14-87)

Robbery is theft that involves taking property directly from another person by means of threats or force. If you are in possession of or use a firearm or dangerous weapon to threaten or endanger another person and unlawfully take or try to take their personal property, then you will be charged with a Class D felony.

Burglary (NCGS §14-51)

North Carolina has two degrees of burglary, which is theft that takes place in a structure. You will be charged with first-degree burglary if you commit the offense in a residence and someone is there at the time. You face second-degree burglary if no one is present at the time or the crime occurred in a non-residential building. This type of larceny is a felony, no matter the value of the stolen goods.

Breaking and/or Entering (NCGS §14-54)

If you are accused of breaking and/or entering any building with the intent to commit any felony, larceny, terrorize, or injure someone inside, you face a Class H felony. If you break into a building without the intent to injure, steal, or commit a felony, the crime is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Identity Theft (NCGS §14-113.20)

If an individual or law enforcement agency blames you for someone else’s stolen identity and financial loss, call an identity theft defense lawyer right away. If you knowingly obtain, possess, or use another individual’s identifying information, you can be charged with a Class G or F felony.

Motor Vehicle Theft (NCGS §14-72.2, 72.5, 72.8)

Car theft is not a separate crime in North Carolina. If you are accused of stealing a motor vehicle, you will likely be charged with a Class H felony, unless it is worth less than $1,000. If you are charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Stealing any amount of gas or other motor fuel worth less than $1,000 is also a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you steal a motor vehicle part and the cost to repair the car is more than $1,000, you will be charged with a Class I felony.

  • Thom Goolsby has been selected as a top 100 trial lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association

Possible Defenses to Theft Charges

There are several elements to a theft crime that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be found guilty. In our experience, prosecutors can have difficulty establishing some of these elements, which can strengthen your defense.

For example, prosecutors must prove:

  • Who owned the property;
  • The value of the property;
  • The act of theft itself; and
  • Intent to deprive the owner of their property.

Through his experience and success in court, Attorney Thom Goolsby has found theft cases are almost always worth fighting. Because theft is typically a non-violent crime, investigations do not always receive a great deal of attention. This fact leads to shoddy police work and weak prosecutorial strategy. These issues create holes in the State’s case against you that we can utilize in your defense.

Petty and Grand Theft Punishments

In North Carolina, the criminal penalties for theft are outlined in a punishment chart that considers the class of the offense and your prior criminal record level.

Misdemeanors are dived by Class A1, 1, 2, and 3, and prior conviction levels I, II, or III. The greatest penalty possible is a Class A1 misdemeanor with a prior conviction level III, which carries one to 150 days of active, intermediate, and/or community punishment. The lowest possible penalty is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a prior conviction level I. Such a conviction carries a fine or one to 10 days of community punishment.

There are 10 classes of felonies (A, B1, B2, C-I), and six prior record levels (I-VI).

For a Class H felony, the range of incarceration is:

  • Level I: Four to six months
  • Level II: Six to eight months
  • Level III: Eight to 10 months
  • Level IV: Nine to 11 months
  • Level V: 12 to 15 months
  • Level VI: 16 to 20 months

There are also minimum and maximum ranges. The ranges can be impacted by mitigating or aggravating factors.

Goolsby Law Firm Case Results

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    Driving Charge Dismissed, DWI Charge Reduced in NC

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    Criminal Case Involving Multiple Charges Dismissed

    An individual was recently charged with multiple criminal offenses, including: Assault on a female Interfering with 911 emergency communications During their arrest, firearms and ammunition were seized at his residence. Maintaining their innocence and wanting to avoid a conviction, the…

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    A Goolsby Law Firm client faced harsh statutory and collateral consequences when she was charged with the following offenses: Possession of drugs Driving while her license is revoked Fictitious tag No vehicle inspection No registration To further complicate matters, the…

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Call a Theft Lawyer Today

If you have been arrested for any theft crime in Wilmington or approached by a detective with questions about a theft in New Hanover County, the best thing you can do is to remain silent. Tell the officer you are happy to cooperate after you have spoken to your attorney. Once you contact Attorney Thom Goolsby, he will take over and talk to the police on your behalf. Let him help determine if the charges can be dropped or reduced. He will then talk with you about the best possible defenses in your particular situation.

Don’t let a theft conviction hold you back. To learn more about defending against theft charges, contact Goolsby Law Firm online, or call (910) 763–3339. We offer free initial consultations and are happy to explain what comes next.

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Contact Goolsby Law Firm Today

Call 910-763-3339 Now Or Use Our Online Form

    “This is what I do. This is what I love. I care about my clients. I will help you.”

    212 Walnut St. Suite 100
    Wilmington, North Carolina 28401

    Like any quality criminal defense attorney, Thom Goolsby may be in court when you first call, but leave a voice mail or send a text. We’ll get with you as soon as possible, so we can go over what happened, evaluate the case, and explain what comes next.