South Carolina Theft Lawyer

Theft Defense Attorney in South Carolina

Theft encompasses many different crimes under South Carolina law. Minor thefts, sometimes known as “petit thefts” are less serious theft offenses, such as shoplifting and petit larceny, where there is no force or threat of force involved and the value of the stolen item is low.

The charges and potential penalties in theft cases are usually based on the type and amount of the property stolen. A theft will almost always be classified as a “petit theft” when the property stolen is valued at less than $100.00.

Petit theft offenses are also typically charged as misdemeanors in South Carolina. A misdemeanor is usually punishable by up to one year in jail or by fines or other penalties, such as criminal probation.

South Carolina and other states view theft charges seriously, and offenders may be subject to fines and court costs. As such, it is essential that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side representing you every step of the way.

A South Carolina theft lawyer can discuss the facts and circumstances of your individual case with you and may be able to assist you with formulating good legal defenses to your theft charge.

What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove in Theft Cases?

For the State to prove that a crime of theft occurred, the prosecutor must demonstrate that the person charged (i.e. the defendant) possessed the specific intent to commit the crime.

In criminal cases, the State has the burden of proof and must demonstrate specific intent beyond a reasonable doubt based on the State’ evidence of guilt.

Under the law, a shoplifting theft may be deemed complete once an item is concealed in a purse or pocket – not when the merchandise is actually removed from the store.

The most common defenses to theft charges are lack of criminal intent on the part of the defendant – or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Other potential defenses that a South Carolina theft lawyer can use include alibi, mistake of fact, ownership of the property or merchandise in question, duress, or entrapment by police.

What Are Other Charges Related to Theft in South Carolina?

While most theft cases involve taking property from the possession of another with the intent to deprive the owner of its use, there are several offenses that do not involve actually taking the items in question. One clear example is receiving stolen goods under the South Carolina Code of Laws §16-13-180. This makes it illegal for any person to receive goods that they know or should have a reason to know are stolen. A violation of this law is a misdemeanor if the value of the items is $2,000 or less.

Other examples of theft-related offenses can include burglary, breaking into cars, embezzlement, or obtaining property under false pretenses. No matter the exact nature of the charges, a South Carolina theft attorney may be able to help.

Possible Penalties Upon Conviction

Legal representation from an experienced South Carolina theft lawyer is necessary – even in minor theft cases – because the potential penalties upon conviction can be harsh. Possible penalties upon conviction may include some or all the following:

  • Fines and costs
  • Jail / Prison
  • Probation
  • Driver’s license suspensions
  • Community service
  • Personal humiliation
  • Loss of job or professional license

It is important to keep in mind that a conviction always results in a criminal record. Criminal records are readily available to the general public, and currently, educational institutions and employers invariably perform background checks on prospective students and employees.

A theft conviction (or in some cases, even an arrest) may make it significantly more difficult – or impossible – to do the following:

  • Gain admission to an educational institution
  • Find and keep a good job
  • Find a decent place to live in a respectable neighborhood

Working to Contest the Evidence in the Case

It is rare for a police officer to witness a theft in person. Instead, they may rely on unsure witnesses or grainy surveillance footage to build a case against a defendant. Because of the second-hand nature of much of this evidence, a South Carolina theft attorney could help to raise questions of reliability at trial.

Every person has a right against illegal searches, seizures, and unreasonable invasions of privacy, and police officers may violate that right when searching for evidence and making an arrest. Without a warrant, police cannot enter a private building. Additionally, police officers must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or probable cause of a traffic violation to stop a car. An attorney could fight to exclude evidence based on an illegal search or seizure.

Talk to a South Carolina Theft Attorney Today

No theft case should be taken lightly. A knowledgeable South Carolina theft lawyer can analyze all the facts and circumstances of your theft case and can help you to assemble all of the necessary evidence and legal defenses to increase your chances of success at trial.

South Carolina Theft Lawyer