Unlawful concealment charges are very common in the Concord and Charlotte areas. The charge can be very easy to pick up, as it simply involves concealing items while inside a store without having paid for them first. At the same time, a conviction for unlawful concealment can be devastating to your future, as it will impact the job prospects and educational opportunities that are available to you. Speaking with a Charlotte unlawful concealment lawyer is critical to understanding the charges against you and developing a strong defense.
At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated theft crimes lawyers have extensive experience handling misdemeanor unlawful concealment cases on behalf of our clients. We take as much time as we need to understand your situation, what’s most important to you, and what needs to be done to ensure your case ends in the best result possible.
What Is Unlawful Concealment in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, unlawful concealment is a theft crime that makes it illegal to conceal items for sale while in a store. The offense is outlined in North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 14-72.1, which makes it illegal to willfully conceal goods or merchandise without the consent of the owner and without having purchased the item while still in the store.
The key elements of this unlawful concealment are:
- You willfully concealed goods,
- While within a retail establishment.
It's important to note that you can be charged with this crime even before you attempt to leave the store with the concealed item. This is because the law considers concealing an item as an indication of your intent to steal the item. Of course, an experienced Charlotte unlawful concealment lawyer can help you devise a compelling defense to these charges, especially if you were stopped before leaving the store.What is the Difference Between Unlawful Concealment and Shoplifting?
In North Carolina, the terms "unlawful concealment" and "shoplifting" are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences. Unlawful concealment specifically refers to the willful hiding or concealing of goods or merchandise inside a store without purchasing them. This can lead to charges before one even leaves the store.
Shoplifting encompasses a broader range of actions related to theft in a retail setting, including altering price tags, switching packaging, or actually leaving the store without paying for concealed merchandise. So, while unlawful concealment is a form of shoplifting, not all shoplifting offenses involve unlawful concealment.What is the Penalty for Unlawful Concealment?
Unlawful concealment is typically treated as a misdemeanor in North Carolina. However, the severity of the charges can depend on the value of the concealed merchandise and your prior criminal record. For example, a first-time conviction for unlawful concealment of goods valued at less than $1,000 is a Class 3 misdemeanor. However, the offense will become a Class 2 misdemeanor if you have a prior shoplifting conviction or a Class 1 misdemeanor if you have two prior shoplifting convictions. A misdemeanor unlawful concealment conviction also carries other potential penalties, including fines, community service, probation, and, in some cases, incarceration. If the value of the objects concealed exceeds $1,000, the crime is considered a Class H felony.
For many people, the worst part of the punishment comes from the conviction being added to your record. An unlawful concealment or shoplifting conviction could hurt your chances of going to school, getting a job, or joining the military in the future.Are You Facing Unlawful Concealment Charges?
A conviction for unlawful concealment can have a serious impact on your life, even if you avoid jail time. However, being arrested and being convicted are two very different things, and that’s where we come in. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our Charlotte shoplifting lawyers understand what is at stake and will work tirelessly to keep your record clean. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, during which we will answer your questions and provide you with an honest assessment of your case. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call a Charlotte unlawful concealment attorney at the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC by calling 704-405-2580 today. You can also connect with us through our secure online contact form.