Columbia Auto Theft Penalties

In South Carolina, auto theft is a serious crime. A conviction for an auto theft offense could have severe consequences including jail time. Therefore, those who have been charged should speak to a knowledgeable lawyer to learn about their legal options.

A skilled theft attorney could help you learn about your rights and help you avoid a conviction or mitigate the charges. They could investigate the facts of the case and help prove your innocence in court. Call today to learn how an attorney could help you if you are facing Columbia auto theft penalties.

The Possible Consequences for an Auto Theft Offense

The Columbia auto theft penalties depend on whether the crime is a larceny or a carjacking charge. If it is petit larceny, this means the value of the vehicle was under $2,000 and the person could face up to 30 days in jail. Whereas, if the value is over $2,000 but under $10,000, alleged offenders could face a felony of up to five years in prison, which is a grand larceny offense. If the value of the vehicle was over $10,000, they could face a felony which is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

When an individual is charged for carjacking, they could face a felony conviction which carries up to 20 years in prison. If the owner of the vehicle, in that case, received great bodily injury during the carjacking, the sentence is enhanced and the defendant could receive up to a 30-year sentence.

Repeat Offender Sentencing Enhancement

Property crime enhancement is one where an individual who already has a prior conviction could have their consequences increased. Therefore, not solely the auto theft but any type of property crime listed under the statute, whether it is some type of forgery, credit card fraud, or shoplifting. Once they have two prior convictions, on the third arrest, they could be a felony conviction which could carry years of imprisonment. As far as the second-offense carjacking, no specific enhancement is available.

Bond Hearing and Reduced Sentencing Options for Auto Theft Charges

In South Carolina, there is no official arraignment. Instead, the state does bond hearings that are required within 24 hours of an arrest. At that bond hearing, the lawyer will argue the reasons for why the person is not a flight risk, make a case for why the bond should be low, and convince the court that the defendant does not pose an unreasonable danger to the community.

It is important to have an attorney at a hearing to ensure that an individual’s rights are protected. An experienced criminal defense attorney could argue for a personal recognizance bond to hopefully keep the defendant from having to pay to get out of jail. With PR bonds, a person does not have to spend money to get out of jail, whereas with a surety bond, a bail bondsman could post the bail in order for the defendant to get out of jail.

Reduced Sentencing Options

When someone facing Columbia auto theft penalties hires a lawyer, the attorney will look at reduced sentencing options in addition to seeking a dismissal. If the offense is a felony-level larceny, the lawyer could challenge the value amount or try to get the charges reduced to a misdemeanor conviction. This is important because that minimizes the risk and the potential sentence of the defendant. As far as the probation part of it, as long as there is not a mandatory minimum sentence for the crime, a judge always has that discretion.

How an Attorney Could Help Individuals Facing Columbia Auto Theft Penalties

A local attorney is very important because they are familiar with all the players within the legal system. They have worked with the officers and the prosecutors. Having that familiarity and relationships with these individuals is good because the lawyer will know what to expect, what their weaknesses are, and know how to handle certain things in that courtroom that someone from out of town would not otherwise know. These aspects can mean the difference in a case. If you are facing Columbia auto theft penalties, contact a determined lawyer today.