Theft

Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm

Theft in South Carolina

Theft Overview

In South Carolina, theft is a serious criminal offense that encompasses various acts, including larceny, shoplifting, and burglary. The penalties for theft can range from misdemeanors with fines and short jail terms to felonies that carry substantial imprisonment. At Thompson and Hiller, our experienced attorneys specialize in defending clients against theft charges, offering comprehensive legal guidance and aggressive representation to navigate South Carolina’s complex legal system. Whether you’re facing a minor shoplifting charge or a more severe burglary accusation, we are committed to safeguarding your rights and reputation.

Initial Consultation

Attorney meets with the client to discuss the details of the case

Investigation & Evidence Gathering

Collecting all relevant evidence, talking to witnesses, and reviewing police reports and other documents

Pre-Trial & Negotiations

Defense can negotiate with the prosecution for plea deals or even get some charges dropped

Trial & Beyond

Defense attorney represents the client in court, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making closing arguments

The Law
Scales
Court House

Theft

Facing theft charges in South Carolina? Turn to Thompson and Hiller for legal defense that navigates the complexities of South Carolina’s theft laws to protect your rights.

Understanding Theft Laws in Columbia, SC

In South Carolina, theft is generally defined as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. Theft laws in the state are governed by various statutes, including but not limited to South Carolina Code Sections 16-13-30 (Larceny), 16-13-110 (Shoplifting), and 16-11-310 (Burglary).

Types of Theft

  • Larceny: The unlawful taking of personal property. This is the most common form of theft and can range from petty larceny (value less than $2,000) to grand larceny (value more than $2,000).
  • Shoplifting: The act of stealing merchandise from a retail establishment. This can include concealing items, altering price tags, or even consuming food or drink without paying.
  • Burglary: The unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit theft or another felony. South Carolina classifies burglary into three degrees, with first-degree being the most severe.
  • Auto Theft: The unlawful taking of someone else’s vehicle. This is a felony offense and can result in severe penalties.
  • Embezzlement: The act of wrongfully taking or misappropriating funds or property entrusted to one’s care, typically in a corporate setting.

Penalties

The penalties for theft in South Carolina can vary widely depending on the type of theft, the value of the stolen property, and whether the accused has prior convictions. Penalties can range from fines and probation for minor offenses to substantial prison sentences for more severe crimes.

  • Petty Larceny: Up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.
  • Grand Larceny: Up to 10 years in prison, depending on the value of the stolen property.
  • Shoplifting: Up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine for first-time offenders; penalties increase for subsequent offenses.
  • Burglary: Up to life imprisonment for first-degree burglary.

What to Do If You’re Facing Theft Charges

If you’re facing theft charges in South Carolina, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Thompson and Hiller, we specialize in defending clients against various types of theft charges. Our team will guide you through the legal process, from the initial arrest to the final resolution of your case, ensuring that your rights are protected every step of the way.

Understanding Penalties 

Penalties for Petty Larceny

Petty larceny in South Carolina involves the theft of property valued at less than $2,000. If convicted, you could face up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. While this may seem like a minor offense, a conviction can still have a lasting impact on your criminal record, affecting future employment and housing opportunities.

Penalties for Grand Larceny

Grand larceny involves the theft of property valued at $2,000 or more. The penalties for grand larceny can be severe, ranging from one to ten years in prison, depending on the value of the stolen property. A conviction for grand larceny can have a devastating impact on your life, affecting not only your freedom but also your future prospects.

Penalties for Shoplifting

Shoplifting in South Carolina can result in varying penalties based on the value of the stolen merchandise and whether it’s a first-time or subsequent offense. For first-time offenders, penalties may include up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine. Repeat offenses can result in more severe penalties, including longer jail terms and higher fines, making it crucial to seek experienced legal representation.

Penalties for Burglary

Burglary is classified into three degrees in South Carolina, with first-degree being the most severe. Penalties can range from up to five years in prison for third-degree burglary to a potential life sentence for first-degree burglary. Given the gravity of these charges, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney to explore all possible defense strategies.

Penalties for Auto Theft

Auto theft is a felony offense in South Carolina and can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment for up to ten years and substantial fines. A conviction for auto theft can also result in the suspension of your driver’s license, adding another layer of complexity to your life post-conviction.

Penalties for Embezzlement

Embezzlement is a serious offense that involves the wrongful taking of funds or property entrusted to your care, typically in a corporate setting. Penalties can range from fines and probation to substantial prison sentences, depending on the amount embezzled and the circumstances surrounding the case.

Navigating the Legal Process for Theft Charges 

Facing theft charges can be a daunting experience, but understanding the legal process can help alleviate some of the stress. At Thompson and Hiller, we guide you through each step, ensuring that you’re well-informed and prepared. Here’s what you can expect:

Initial Arrest and Booking

After being arrested for theft, you’ll be taken to the police station for booking. This involves recording your personal details, the charges against you, and possibly taking fingerprints and photographs.

We can often expedite the booking process and work on securing your release through bail, ensuring you spend as little time in custody as possible.

Arraignment

The arraignment is your first court appearance, where you’ll be formally charged and asked to enter a plea.

We’ll advise you on the best plea to enter based on the evidence against you and will begin negotiations with the prosecution to potentially reduce the charges.

Discovery and Investigation

This phase involves gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and building your defense.

Our team conducts a thorough investigation to challenge the prosecution’s evidence, seeking to weaken their case and strengthen your defense.

Pre-Trial Motions

Before the trial, both sides can file motions to request specific actions, such as dismissing the case or excluding evidence.

We’ll file strategic motions that can significantly impact the outcome of your case, such as motions to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained.

Trial

If no plea agreement is reached, the case will go to trial. Here, both sides will present their arguments, and a judge or jury will determine your guilt or innocence.

With our extensive courtroom experience, we’ll present a compelling defense aimed at achieving the best possible outcome, whether that’s a not guilty verdict or a reduced sentence.

Sentencing

If convicted, the judge will determine your sentence based on various factors, including the type of theft and any prior convictions.

We’ll advocate for the most lenient sentence possible, presenting mitigating factors and arguing for alternatives to imprisonment, such as probation or community service.

What to Ask and Bring When Consulting Thompson & Hiller 

Facing theft charges can be overwhelming, but the right legal guidance can make all the difference. When you consult Thompson and Hiller, here are some essential questions to ask and information to bring to make the most of your legal representation.

Questions to Ask Thompson and Hiller

  1. What are the potential penalties for the specific theft charge I’m facing?
  2. What are the most effective defense strategies for my case?
  3. How often do you handle theft cases, and what have been the outcomes?
  4. Will my case likely go to trial, or is a plea deal more advisable?
  5. What are the legal fees, and what do they cover?
  6. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my case?
  7. What are the next steps in the legal process, and what should I expect?

Information to Bring to Thompson and Hiller

  1. Arrest Records: Any paperwork or documentation related to your arrest.
  2. Bail Papers: If you’ve been released on bail, bring any related documents.
  3. Evidence: Any evidence that you believe could be beneficial to your case, such as text messages, emails, or surveillance footage.
  4. Witness Information: Names and contact details of any potential witnesses who could testify on your behalf.
  5. Timeline of Events: A written account of what happened before, during, and after the alleged theft, as detailed as possible.
  6. Previous Legal Records: If you have any prior convictions or ongoing cases, bring all relevant legal documents.

By asking these questions and providing this information, you’ll enable Thompson and Hiller to offer you the most effective legal representation. Our goal is to guide you through the legal process as smoothly as possible, ensuring that your rights are protected every step of the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What is Considered Theft in South Carolina?

Answer: In South Carolina, theft is broadly defined as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. This can include various forms such as larceny, shoplifting, and burglary. Understanding the specific type of theft you’re charged with is crucial for your defense strategy.

2. What are the Penalties for Theft in South Carolina?

Answer: The penalties for theft in South Carolina can vary widely, depending on factors like the type of theft and the value of the stolen property. Penalties can range from fines and probation for minor offenses to substantial prison sentences for more severe crimes. Knowing the potential penalties can help you prepare for what lies ahead.

3. How Can I Defend Against Theft Charges?

Answer: Defending against theft charges in South Carolina involves various strategies, such as challenging the evidence, questioning the intent, or proving mistaken identity. An experienced attorney can help you explore these and other defense strategies to either reduce the charges or get them dismissed altogether.

4. Will a Theft Conviction Affect My Future?

Answer: A theft conviction in South Carolina can have long-lasting consequences beyond immediate legal penalties. It can result in a criminal record, affecting your employment opportunities, housing applications, and even your social standing. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney to mitigate the impact.

5. What Should I Do If I’m Arrested for Theft?

Answer: If you’re arrested for theft in South Carolina, the first step is to exercise your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you. The next step is to contact an experienced attorney like Thompson and Hiller, who can guide you through the legal process and help you build a strong defense.

Want to Speak With an Attorney Today?

Get your free initial consultation set up today by reaching out via phone, email, or text. Have Thompson & Hiller on your side today.

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