Practically any type of theft charge in South Carolina is serious. South Carolina law is very aggressive about charging all but the most minor types of theft offenses as felonies.
When you are convicted of a felony, there is a high probability of jail time, along with lifelong consequences. You simply cannot try to deal with theft charges on your own. You can and must obtain legal counsel from an experienced Columbia criminal defense lawyer.
The attorneys at Shealey Law Firm, work with you to evaluate your legal options and work on your strongest possible defense. Contact us at any time to schedule your free initial consultation.
Theft-Related Charges in South Carolina
The severity of the charges that you would face as a defendant depends on the value of the allegedly taken property. Prosecutors will charge taking of property valued at over $2,000 as grand larceny, which is treated as a felony.
In reality, it does not take much for property to be valued at that level, meaning that it could be much easier than you think it is to be facing felony charges. Taking of property above $10,000 is an even more serious category of grand larceny that will result in a higher sentence.
Typical charges relating to theft in South Carolina include:
- Burglary: Entering a building without consent with the intent of committing a crime inside the premises. One does not actually need to take anything to be guilty of burglary.
- Robbery: Taking of property from a person or in the presence of a person by threat or force. Robbery may not require an actual weapon or actual violence – just a threat could be enough
- Receiving stolen goods or property: One cannot receive stolen goods or property if they have reason to believe that the goods were stolen. One cannot be willfully blind or ignorant because they can be convicted when they should have known that they were receiving stolen goods or property.
Elements of Theft-Related Charges
The prosecutor must prove every element of the crime in order to win a conviction. For example, the prosecutor must prove the following:
- The defendant took or carried away the goods of another
- It was against the will or without the consent of another
- There was intent to permanently deprive the person of the property
Burglary and robbery charges require specific intent to commit the crime. In a receipt of stolen goods case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knew or should have known that the goods were stolen.
Penalties for Convictions of Theft-Related Charges
Practically every charge relating to theft (with the exception of petit larceny) would be charged as a felony. Here are the penalties that one would face if they are convicted of theft-related charges.
- Grand larceny (taking of property valued at $2,000 or more) is punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison. The potential sentence escalates to up to ten years in jail when the property is valued at $10,000 or more.
- Robbery is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If there was a deadly weapon used, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison.
- Burglary carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.
- The penalty for receiving stolen property depends on the amount. If the property was valued between $2,000-$10,000, it is a misdemeanor punished by up to three years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. If the value exceeds $10,000, the punishment can be up to ten years in prison or a fine of up to $2,000.
Since many theft charges are a felony, and they are viewed as a crime of dishonesty, you will also face numerous other consequences, even after you have fulfilled the terms of your sentence.
Defenses to Theft-Related Charges in South Carolina
Theft charges require that the prosecutor prove every element of the alleged crime. They must prove your case to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
Here are some defenses to theft-related charges in South Carolina:
- The alleged victim actually gave you the property
- You borrowed the property without permission, but you intended to return it
- You reasonably believed that the property at issue was rightly yours
- You reasonably believed that the property that you acquired or that was given to you was not stolen
- For a robbery case, the alleged victim unreasonably believed that there was force being used
- For a burglary case, you had a legal right to be on the premises, or you had no intent to commit another crime
- The evidence being used against you was taken through an illegal search or seizure
- Law enforcement violated your legal rights (which could be through coercing a confession or denying you the right to counsel)
The Columbia theft defense lawyers at Shealey Law Firm will review your case and help you determine the path forward, whether it is negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutor or fighting the charges against you in court. We have significant trial experience and are not hesitant to challenge the prosecution over your case.