The Title is Affeer’d: Larceny or False Pretenses?

The perpetrators in State v. White, No. COA22-369, 2023 WL 3471116 (N.C. Ct. App. May 16, 2023), wrongfully obtained merchandise from a Walmart by purchasing an $89 child’s car seat box which they had surreptitiously filled with nearly $10,000 worth of electronics.  The defendant was convicted of larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, and obtaining property by false pretenses, and appealed, arguing the trial court erred in allowing convictions for both larceny and false pretenses.  The Court of Appeals disagreed, saying “the crimes of larceny and obtaining property by false pretenses are not mutually exclusive.”  White, 2023 WL 3471116, at *5.  Ultimately, it held that there was sufficient evidence to support both charges and that the trial court did not err by instructing on both.  Id.  This post examines the difference between larceny and false pretenses to determine when a defendant may be convicted of both offenses based on a single transaction.

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“Belk’s Department Stores, an entity capable of owning property”

The court of appeals recently decided that an indictment alleging that a defendant stole some shirts from “Belk’s Department Stores, an entity capable of owning property,” did not sufficiently identify the victim as an entity capable of owning property. State v. Brawley, __ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __, 2017 WL 4632820 (Oct. 17, 2017). This post summarizes the decision, considers the possibility of further review, and explains how other states handle this issue.

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Is Misdemeanor Trespassing and Misdemeanor Shoplifting Really a Felony?

The web has several stories about large retail stores banning people caught shoplifting from returning, sometimes for life, sometimes from all of the stores in the chain. Sometimes the incident prompting the ban goes to court, with the person convicted of shoplifting. Sometimes the store does not pursue criminal charges but rather has the person sign an agreement acknowledging that he or she is not permitted to come back. What happens if the person returns, reenters the store, and is caught shoplifting again? In some districts in North Carolina, the person is charged not with trespassing and shoplifting, both misdemeanors, but rather with felony breaking or entering under G.S. 14-54(a). I have reservations about whether the law supports this charge.

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Proving That Larceny of a Motor Vehicle Is a Felony

In some states, theft of an automobile is a felony regardless of the value of the vehicle. See, e.g., Fla. Stat. § 812.014. Not so in North Carolina. Motor vehicles don’t have any special status under our larceny statute, G.S. 14-72. Therefore, theft of an automobile is a misdemeanor unless the vehicle is worth more … Read more

Larceny of a Motor Vehicle

There’s a popular video game — or really, series of video games — called Grand Theft Auto. And many states have a crime called grand theft auto, or have some other theft offense that is specific to motor vehicles. In fact, according to this handy chart from the National Conference of State Legislatures, it appears … Read more