Most people understand that taking the property of another without their permission is illegal. This basic example constitutes larceny under Columbia’s laws. However, it is also against the law to commit many acts that aid or abet the theft of others. This can result in charges that allege the receipt of stolen goods or shoplifting. Theft allegations can come with severe penalties. Even a first offense will create a criminal record and could result in a jail term or the payment of fines. Harsher allegations can become felonies that allow a court to sentence a guilty party to multiple years in prison.
A Columbia theft lawyer could work with you to prevent this outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney could explain the relevant laws, perform a full investigation into the incident, and present a comprehensive defense in court.
The basic concept of theft under state law is straightforward. According to South Carolina Code § 16-13-30, larceny involve the taking of any property without the owner’s consent. The statute creates the offense called petit larceny when the value of the item or items involved is $2,000 or less. Convictions of petit larceny are misdemeanors carrying a maximum jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both.
More serious allegations involve the alleged theft of property with a value of more than $2,000. These are examples of grand larceny, where a court can issue a fine at the court’s discretion and a maximum prison sentence may be as long as ten years.
In certain other situations, the identity of the items at stake makes the case more serious. For example, the theft of livestock or motor vehicles can bring enhanced penalties upon a conviction. A Columbia theft attorney could provide more information about the exact nature of theft charges.
Not every theft charge involves alleged theft committed by a defendant. In some situations, a party may face criminal charges despite not personally stealing property.
One of the most common examples is the receipt of stolen goods. S.C. Code § 16-13-180 says that it is against the law for any person to receive property that they know is stolen or that they should reasonably know to be stolen. Much like under the larceny statute, the severity of the charge depends upon the value of the items.
Another common charge that is related to larceny is shoplifting. Despite popular belief, criminal charges may still result even if a person does not remove merchandise from a store. State law says that it is illegal to conceal property with the intent to steal it or to remove a price tag from an item while still in the store. A Columbia theft lawyer could build defenses against any allegation related to larceny.
Allegations involving theft may seem like minor inconveniences. However, a conviction of even a misdemeanor-level offense will create a criminal record and could require you to pay heavy fines or serve time in jail. As a result, it is vitally important to take these charges seriously.
A Columbia theft lawyer could help you to respond to this allegation and explain how South Carolina’s larceny laws will affect your case. No matter the exact nature of your charges, a lawyer could take the lead to investigate the incident and develop a defense that meets your specific needs. Reach out to one today to schedule an appointment.