Theft, otherwise known as larceny, can be a serious offense. There are different types and degrees of theft, but generally speaking, theft is when you relieve someone of their property with the intent to permanently keep it from them.
Theft is a broad categorization, and can include shoplifting, stealing a purse or wallet, thefts from inside motor vehicles, thefts of motor vehicle parts and accessories, and other thefts that are committed without force, violence, or fraud. Theft does not include charges of embezzlement, con games, forgery, passing or receiving bad checks, or theft of motor vehicles.
In South Carolina, criminal theft is classified as either “Petit” or “Grand” larceny. The difference is based on the value of the items that were taken. Property worth $2,000 or less is “petit,” and anything over $2,000 is “grand” larceny.
Regardless of the charge, a theft conviction can have tremendous negative consequences and can threaten your ability to get an education, a job, or even a personal relationship. Avoiding conviction, if that is even a remote possibility, is important to your continued livelihood and ability to live a normal life.
On this site, we will discuss different theft circumstances and charges, action steps to take after being charged with larceny, and the possible sentences if you are convicted. This is not legal advice, and cannot replace the counsel of an experienced attorney, who can offer you the best chance at receiving an optimal outcome in a theft case. Regardless of that fact, we want potential clients to understand their rights under South Carolina law and know what to expect if they have been charged with the crime of theft.
LEGAL PROCESS IN A CRIMINAL THEFT CASE
What happens when you are charged with theft, whether petit larceny or grand larceny? It’s important to remember that the burden of proof in any case is on the prosecution. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed the theft crime in question. This is a multi-step process and includes proving that the allegedly stolen property definitively belonged to the plaintiff, that the defendant did actually and wrongfully take that property, and that they intended never to return it, whether they intended to keep it for themselves or give or sell the property to someone else.
The role of your defense attorney is to represent your interests fairly and justly in this case. If the above circumstances cannot be proven, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt, your lawyer is there to assist in having the charges dropped against you, or even to represent your interests in negotiations to a perhaps less serious charge with the prosecutor. This might be done if the defendant otherwise has a clean record, or when the circumstances surrounding the case are complex enough that the prosecutor has other reasons to agree to a plea to a lesser charge. For example, if neither petit nor grand larceny can be proven without a reasonable doubt, but the defendant does have in their possession the item or items in question, they may be charged with receiving or possessing stolen property. This can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the value of the item(s) in question.
SOUTH CAROLINA THEFT SENTENCES
If you are convicted of theft, the penalty depends largely on the value of the stolen goods. Smaller crimes like petit larceny may be punishable by a term of only 30 days in jail. More expensive crimes can mean much higher penalties, accordingly. Felony convictions in grand larceny cases can mean a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, as well as hefty fines. Felony is a serious crime. Your ability to vote, purchase firearms, collect government assistance such as food stamps or welfare, or to receive financial aid for school are negatively affected by a felony conviction. Your freedom from a prison sentence is not the only reason to secure an experienced criminal attorney in a South Carolina theft case.
Understanding the nuances of the law and staying abreast of the changes is incredibly important to those who practice law. For example, in 2010, South Carolina changed the threshold values that determine whether a charge of theft is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. The Leventis Law Firm stays abreast of all such changes and is always prepared with the most up-to-date information to properly defend their clients.
If you are facing larceny charges related to theft, locating and retaining an experienced lawyer as quickly as possible is crucial to achieving the best possible outcome for your case. Our firm has a deep bench of experience in handling even the most complex theft cases, and any accompanying charges that may be applied simultaneously. We are determined to achieve justice for each and every one of our clients, utilizing the full resources of our firm and exploring every legal avenue in your case. If you are in South Carolina and have been charged with larceny, contact us today for a free consultation.