South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer Assists Clients Charged with Crimes Against Property

Columbia SC Criminal Lawyer

What Are the Consequences of a Theft Conviction in South Carolina?

Crimes against property include offenses in which property is damaged or stolen. A human injury is not typically involved with these types of crimes, except for financial. In 2017, there were 162,989 property crimes committed, which translates to a rate of 324.4 per every 10,000 people, according to incident reports submitted to the State Law Enforcement Division and published in the 2017 edition of Crime in South Carolina. Additionally, South Carolina ranks 7th in the nation for the number of home burglaries with a rate of 664.7 reported break-ins per every 100,000 people.

People accused of crimes in the United States are granted certain rights under our constitution that protect their freedom, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. At the Woods Law Firm, we take these rights seriously and take immediate steps to aggressively protect your rights from prosecutors and law enforcement. Our South Carolina drug crimes criminal defense lawyers fight to prove your innocence or minimize the effects of your charge on your life.

What Are the Different Types of Property Crimes in South Carolina?

Offenses against property are codified in Title 16 Chapter 11 of the SC Code of Laws. Our dedicated criminal defense team assists individuals who are charged with the following property crimes in South Carolina:

What Is Burglary in South Carolina?

SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-311- 16-11-313 defined burglary as entering a structure without permission with the intent to commit a crime therein. Burglary can be charged as a first, second or third-degree offense. The specific charge depends on the type of building that is entered and whether a weapon was used or displayed during the crime.

  • First degree burglary in South Carolina is committed when a person enters a home while armed with a deadly weapon or explosive, displays a weapon during the crime, threatens to use a weapon or physically harms a victim. This crime can also be charged if the individual has a prior criminal history of two or more burglary or housebreaking convictions or if the crime is committed at nighttime.
  • Second degree burglary in South Carolina (violent) is charged when any of the factors described for first degree burglary are committed but the property was a non-residential structure instead of a home. Second degree burglary in South Carolina (nonviolent) is committed when a person enters a structure without permission with the intent to commit a crime once therein without any of the aggravating factors described for first degree burglary.
  • Third degree burglary in South Carolina first offense is charged when a person commits the basic elements of burglary and has no convictions for a prior burglary offense. Third degree burglary in South Carolina second offense can be charged when a person commits the offense and has a previous conviction for burglary.

These offenses carry serious penalties and an aggressive defense is necessary to combat these charges. Our knowledgeable and seasoned criminal defense lawyers have an intimate knowledge of the nuances of these cases. For the prosecution to secure a conviction, it must show that you committed the precise elements of the crime. Technical details such as the time the offense was committed or where the crime was committed may help get the charges against you dismissed or reduced with the held of the Woods Law Firm.

What Is Robbery in South Carolina?

Common law robbery in South Carolina, or “strong-arm robbery,” involves the taking of property from someone else by threat or force. According to SC Code of Laws §§ 16-11-311- 16-11-313, common law robbery is considered a felony offense. Robbery while armed with a deadly weapon in South Carolina is committed when a person commits robbery while armed with a deadly weapon such as a pistol, knife, or metal knuckles or while threatening someone that he is so armed and making it seem he is armed.

What Is Arson in South Carolina?

Arson in South Carolina involves the intentional burning of property, even if it is your own. It is codified in S.C. Code Ann. § 16-11-110. There are three different degrees of arson in South Carolina:

  • First degree arson — This crime is committed when someone willfully and maliciously causes an explosion or burns property that causes damage to a building or other structure and results in the death or serious injury to a person.
  • Second degree arson — A person commits arson in the second degree if he or she willfully and maliciously causes an explosion or burns a home, church, public school, private school, business, warehouse or government building.
  • Third degree arson — This crime is committed when a person causes an explosion or burns a building other than those specified above, a vehicle, a watercraft or other personal property.

What Is Larceny in South Carolina?

Larceny is another word for theft. S.C. Code Ann. § 16-13-30 describes two forms of larceny. Simple larceny is the theft of any of the following personal property that has a value of $2,000 or less:

  • Merchandise
  • Money
  • Other personal property

Grand larceny is the theft of any of these things valued at more than $2,000.

What Is Shoplifting in South Carolina?

S.C. Code Ann. § 16-13-110 defines shoplifting as taking possession of, carrying away or transferring property in a store or retail establishment to another area while intending to deprive the store owner of the property without paying the full retail price for the property. Shoplifting also includes performing any of the following actions in order to be charged less for the merchandise:

  • Altering, transferring or removing a label or price tag
  • Transferring merchandise from one container to another

The crime is considered a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen property is $2,000 or less. If the property is valued at more than $2,000, it is considered a felony in South Carolina.

What Other Theft Crimes Can I Be Charged with in South Carolina?

In addition to the crimes stated above, there are many other theft crimes in South Carolina that a person can be charged with. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be charged with other crimes, such as:

  • Making a false claim to obtain insurance benefits
  • Burning personal property to defraud an insurer
  • Train robbery
  • Housebreaking
  • Safecracking
  • Possession of burglary tools
  • Forgery
  • Embezzlement
  • Larceny of bicycles

It is not uncommon for a person to be charged with multiple theft crimes based on one set of circumstances. When this occurs, it is critical to the potential outcome of your case to hire the best theft crimes criminal defense lawyer to take immediate steps to protect your rights. The Woods Law Firm will mount a vigorous and highly strategic defense. Call or text us at (864) 810-0384 for an immediate consultation.

What Are the Punishments for Theft Crimes in South Carolina?

Theft crimes in South Carolina can range from misdemeanors to serious felonies. A misdemeanor is usually subject to a maximum term of one year in a local jail while a felony I usually subject to a punishment of more than one year in a state prison. In 2010, South Carolina enacted comprehensive sentencing reforms. Part of these changes included increasing the state’s felony theft threshold, or the dollar value of stolen property, in order for prosecutors to charge a person with a felony instead of a felony. Additionally, the state made changes to penalties for certain crimes against property. These changes signify that prison space should be prioritized for individuals who are convicted of more serious crimes.

Some possible penalties for various crimes against property in South Carolina include the following:

  • Common law robbery – Up to 15 years imprisonment in a state prison.
  • Armed robbery – A mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of 10 years, up to 30 years. A person convicted of this offense must serve at least 7 years of their sentence before being eligible for parole.
  • Attempted armed robbery – Imprisonment up to 20 years.
  • Shoplifting merchandise valued at $10,000 or more – Imprisonment up to 10 years.
  • Shoplifting merchandise valued at more than $2,000 – A find up to $1,000, plus costs, fees and assessment, imprisonment up to 5 years, or both.
  •  
  • Shoplifting merchandise valued at $2,000 or less – Jail time of up to 30 days or a fine up to $1,000, plus costs, fees and assessments.
  • Petit larceny (simple larceny) – Imprisonment up to 30 days or a fine up to $1,000, plus costs, fees and assessments.
  • Grand larceny – Up to five years’ imprisonment if the value of the stolen property is between $2,001 and $9,999 or up to ten years’ imprisonment if the value of the stolen property has a value of $10,000 or more. Alternatively, the judge can impose a fine in an amount at his or her discretion.

As you can see, the potential penalties that you face are significant, so it is critical that you mount the best criminal defense by hiring a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.

How Can a South Carolina Theft Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You?

Our criminal defense attorney will listen to your side of the story, evaluate the facts, collect evidence and develop a legal strategy to combat the charges you are confronting. Our lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable about representing individuals charged with property and theft crimes. You need a criminal defense attorney on your side who can lodge the best criminal defense. For help with your case, call or text the Woods Law Firm.

What Counties do the Woods Law Firm Attorneys Serve in South Carolina?

South Carolina is made up of 46 counties. Charleston County, Greenville County and Richland County are the largest counties in the state. Misdemeanor cases like petit larceny and shoplifting merchandise under $2,000 are heard in municipal courts or magistrate courts.  Over 300 magistrates in South Carolina serve in the state. County circuit courts, or General Sessions Courts, hear felony cases. Our experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers handle cases in all South Carolina counties.

What Are the Largest Counties and Courts for Misdemeanor Cases in South Carolina?

The main courthouses that deal with cases involving misdemeanor property crimes in Charleston, Greenville and Richland Counties and important information about the courts are listed below.

Charleston County

Charleston Municipal Court

180 Lockwood Blvd.
Charleston, SC 29403
Phone: (843) 724-7460
List of Charleston Municipal Court Judges
Court Director: Lakesiya L. Cofield
Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Charleston County Magistrate Courts
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive, Ste. B143
North Charleston, SC 29405
Phone: (843) 202-6600
List of
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Greenville County

Greenville Municipal Court
426 N. Main St.
Greenville, SC 29601
Phone: (864) 467-6650
List of Greenville County Municipal Judges
Court Clerk: Pam Larson
Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Greenville Magistrate Court Map

Upper Township

400 Northeast Dr. Ste. I
Columbia, SC 29203
Phone: (803) 576-2570
Chief Magistrate: Judge Tomothy Clinton Edward
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What Are the Largest Counties and Courts for Felony Cases in South Carolina?

The main courthouses that deal with cases involving felony property crimes in Charleston, Greenville and Richland Counties and important information about the courts are listed below.

Charleston County

Charleston County Circuit Court 100 Broad St.,Ste. 106
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
(843) 958-5000
Judges: Deadra L. Jefferson, Roger M. Young, Sr.
Court clerk: Julie J. Armstrong
Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Greenville County

Greenville County Circuit Court

305 E. North St.
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 467-8551
Chief Magistrate: Mark C. Edmonds
List of other judges in Greenville County Circuit Court
Court Clerk: Paul B. Wickensimer
Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Richland County

Richland County Circuit Court 1701 Main Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 576-1950
Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal (retired)
Court clerk: Jeannette McBride
Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

In addition to the possibility of jail or prison time and the fines and other costs discussed above, a conviction for a property crime in South Carolina can cause the following negative consequences in your life:

  • Negative effect on your credibility – Being convicted of a theft crime can be used against you in other cases to question your credibility or damage your reputation.
  • Inability to work at certain jobs – You may be excluded from working at certain types of jobs, such as if you are responsible for managing money or in retail. A background check will likely reveal any conviction of a property crime in South Carolina.
  • A lifelong criminal record – If convicted, you will have a criminal record that follows you around for the rest of your life.
  • Immigration consequences – Theft crimes are typically considered crimes of moral turpitude, which can subject you to removal proceedings.

When facing charges for a serious property crime in South Carolina, you are unlikely to emerge without a penalty or a reduced sentence without the assistance of a savvy South Carolina criminal defense attorney. Our criminal defense team is here to help you overcome the legal challenges you are facing.

The potential consequences of a conviction are life-altering, so it is crucial that you have the assistance of a skilled trial attorney who understands the nature of the charges against you and the high stakes that are involved. Meet with our criminal defense attorney, explain the nuances of your case and we will do everything in our power to clear your name and ultimately preserve your freedom. If you need help immediately, call or text (864) 810-0384.

What Are the Possible Defenses to Theft Crimes in SC?

When individuals in South Carolina are accused of a property crime, they have certain legal rights and defenses that apply to their case. The well-staffed legal defense team at the Woods Law Firm will thoroughly review the details of your case to identify defenses that apply, such as:

Lack of Intent

Theft crimes usually require intent to steal property or deprive the owner of it. If you accidentally forgot you were holding merchandise or an item was forgotten in your cart, you lack the intent necessary for the prosecution to secure a conviction.

Mistaken Identity

In cases of robbery or burglary, eyewitness testimony is often a strong piece of evidence against the defendant. However, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. If someone identified you as a person who committed a crime by mistake, we will vigorously challenge this testimony.

Alibi

If you were somewhere else when the crime was committed and can prove it, we will present an alibi defense.

Elements of the Crime Are Not Met

The American Constitution gives you specific rights, including the presumption of innocence and the right not to incriminate yourself. The prosecution carries the heavy burden of proving your guilt by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor must establish that you have met every element of the crime. Theft crimes often have very precise elements that must be met in order for the crime to be committed, such as the timing of the commission of the crime, the value of the property, or where the crime was committed. We challenge each of these elements to prove the prosecution has not met its burden.

Contact the Woods Law Firm to Begin Mounting a Strong Defense

The excellent staff and criminal defense attorneys at the Woods Law Firm are dedicated to protecting your rights and your freedom. We will work closely with you to identify the best defenses in your case. We always work to win for our clients. With over 24 years of experience, you can count on us to provide solid legal representation at every stage of the case. Reach out to the Woods Law Firm today by dialing (864) 298-8111 or texting (864) 810-0384 to schedule an initial consultation. You can also contact us through our convenient online contact form.