While stealing something of relatively little value may seem inconsequential, a theft charge can have serious long-term consequences. Penalties for theft can include hefty fines as well as significant jail time or long probation sentences, as well as a mark on your criminal record that can affect employment and housing opportunities for years.
If you are facing theft charges, consider reaching out to a dedicated Charleston theft lawyer to review your case and go over your options. An experienced attorney could help you navigate the criminal justice process and protect your legal rights.
Difference Between Theft and Burglary
Theft and burglary are often wrongly used interchangeably. While both theft and burglary involve taking property without consent or proper payment, there is a noticeable difference between the two under the law.
Theft simply involves taking someone else’s property without their consent, usually money or objects of monetary value. Theft need not involve illegal entry onto a victim’s physical property. Pickpocketing is a common example of a theft charge that is distinct from burglary.
Burglary, unlike theft, does not necessarily involve taking property from someone else without their permission, but it does include unlawfully entering a physical property with the intention to steal something. Under South Carolina law, an individual may be charged with burglary even if nothing was stolen. A burglary charge relies heavily on intention, and if the prosecution can prove the intention to break and enter in order to steal something, an individual will be charged accordingly.
Penalties for a Theft Charge
The severity of theft charges depends on the value of the stolen items. The legal term for stealing something valued at $2,000 or less is petit or petty larceny. Petty larceny is a misdemeanor with a penalty of a fine up to $1,000 and prison time up to 30 days.
Grand larceny involves stealing something worth more than $2,000. If the item taken was valued between $2,000 and $10,000, the accused might face up to five years in prison as well as a fine. If the stolen item was more than $10,000 in value, the individual might face up to 10 years in prison in addition to a fine.
An experienced theft lawyer in Charleston could explain how the various degrees of theft offenses apply to a particular case and better estimate the potential penalties that a defendant may be facing.
Consult a Charleston Theft Attorney
While theft may seem like a relatively unsubstantial crime, an individual could face lengthy jail time and hefty fines depending on the value of what was stolen. If you have been charged with a theft offense, you should consider retaining legal counsel.
A Charleston theft lawyer could explain the charges, as well as the coming legal proceedings so that you fully understand the process. They may also be able to review your case and bypass a trial by working with the prosecutors on a plea bargain. If the case does go to trial, a Charleston theft lawyer could work to build a strong defense and adequately represent you in court. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney.