Shoplifting in South Carolina 101

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It goes without saying that the past year and half has been extremely difficult for many people in the lowcountry and throughout the entire country as well. The financial strain that was placed on many people during the COVID-19 lock downs pushed a lot of people to commit criminal acts such as shoplifting out of utter desperation. I personally witnessed an increase in these charges during the shutdowns while I was employed at the public defender’s office. Being accused of shoplifting, regardless of the underlying reason, can have a lasting negative impact on your life. The following article will explain the punishment for shoplifting and will take a look at some options that may be available to you.

What is Shoplifting?

The act of shoplifting is codified in SC Code § 16-13-110. This statute defines the act of shoplifting and breaks it into three general categories. The first is what typically comes to mind when one thinks about shoplifting and that is simply removing the item or items from the retail store. The second occurs when a person transfers the item that is offered for sale to another container. For example, someone might take a brand new video game and place the disc into a used or cheaper video game case. The third category is very similar to the second but it is accomplished by transferring the price tag from one item to a cheaper item that you are trying to purchase.

It is important to note that even in the event someone commits one of these acts, it does not automatically make them guilty of shoplifting. The act must also be coupled with the intent to permanently deprive the merchant of the property. Lack of intent is most certainly a defense but it does not prevent law enforcement from charging you with shoplifting. Proving that it was an innocent mistake is a difficult task which is why it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney to make sure that you are fully heard in your defense.

Shoplifting is a serious crime in South Carolina. There are three levels of the crime that range from a misdemeanor to a felony and the level is determined by the total dollar amount of the item or items taken. Shoplifting is a crime that is also eligible for enhancement purposes for subsequent offenses which is once again why it is so important that you hire a criminal defense attorney, especially for first offenses. The following chart shows the statutory fine and/or jail time for each level for shoplifting.

Value of Stolen Item      Classification        Jail                        Time Fines

Less than $2000                                             Misdemeanor                             Up to 30 days                         Up to $1000

$2000 – $10000                                              Misdemeanor                             Up to 5 years                          Up to $1000

$10000 or greater                                           Felony                                          Up to 10 years                        Up to $10000

Keep in mind that the fines that are referenced in the graph above assume that the charge is a first offense and it does not include any of the court costs or fees associated with being found guilty of shoplifting.

Contact a Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with shoplifting then it is imperative that you hire a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the court system and help mitigate the charges. Being convicted of shoplifting can prevent people from obtaining future employment and have other collateral consequences that can negatively impact your life. There are options available that can prevent the charges from going on someone’s permanent record so make sure you contact Schiller & Hamilton before pleading guilty to the charge of shoplifting.

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