South Carolina state law separates larceny and shoplifting into two distinct criminal offenses. While both offenses can result in similar consequences, the ways in which courts prosecute shoplifting charges are fairly unique.
Understanding and effectively challenging allegations of this nature could be much easier with an experienced Greenville shoplifting lawyer’s assistance. Working with a seasoned criminal defense attorney is key to fight back against the prosecution, and also to minimize the consequences that a conviction or a guilty plea leads to in the sentencing phase of a criminal trial.
What Constitutes Shoplifting Under State Law?
Shoplifting is different than a petit larceny or grand larceny in South Carolina. There are various ways someone could be arrested and convicted of shoplifting, even if they never actually took someone else’s property into their physical possession. According to South Carolina Code of Laws §16-13-110, any of the following actions may constitute unlawful shoplifting if someone performs them with the intent of depriving a merchant of the goods’ retail value:
- Taking retail goods and/or store property out of a retail establishment without paying for them
- Transferring retail goods from one container to another
- Altering or switching price tags or labels between different retail goods
- Causing retail goods to be transported away from a retail establishment or storage area
Additionally, under S.C. Code §16-13-120, it is considered permissible for a store owner or law enforcement officer to assume that someone who has concealed unpurchased merchandise intends to shoplift that merchandise. In these cases, finding unpurchased merchandise on a shopper’s person may be considered implicit evidence of willful concealment. A Greenville shoplifting attorney could provide crucial assistance in situations like this when it comes to establishing a defendant’s actual intentions and combatting the unfair assumptions that may have led to their arrest.
The Range of Penalties for Shoplifting Convictions
Like other types of theft offenses, the severity of a shoplifting offense depends on the financial value of the items allegedly taken. Shoplifting of $2,000 worth of merchandise or less is a misdemeanor offense that may be tried in municipal or magistrates court, and is punishable by no more than 30 days in jail plus a $1,000 fine.
If there is more than $2,000 worth of merchandise involved, shoplifting becomes a felony offense that could result in a maximum five-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. Shoplifting of $10,000 worth of merchandise or more may result in an even harsher maximum prison sentence of 10 years. As a shoplifting lawyer in Greenville could explain, anyone convicted of shoplifting may be financially liable for reimbursement of the involved property’s owner for any lost value they experienced.
Additionally, according to 16-1-57 SC Code of laws, if a person has two or more prior convictions for offenses for which the penalty is contingent upon the value of property involved, the third or subsequent offense can be enhanced to carry up to 10 years in prison. This provision turns a shoplifting of any item into a 10 year felony.
Do Not Wait to Contact a Greenville Shoplifting Attorney
Whether you have no history of criminal convictions or have been in criminal court before, a single shoplifting arrest could have substantial implications for your future. Even if your offense is only a misdemeanor, you could still find yourself facing expensive monetary fines and obligations, and a more serious offense could lead to you serving time in prison.
In this kind of situation, having help from an experienced Greenville shoplifting lawyer could make all the difference. Attorney Christopher L. Jones has the inside knowledge from his time as a prosecutor that is needed to build an airtight case on your behalf. We are ready to help– call today to get started.