Shoplifting in South Carolina

Shoplifting, did you know you don’t have to leave the store to be charged for shoplifting.  Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, SC. Today we’re talking about shoplifting charges in South Carolina.

What is Shoplifting

So, what is shoplifting.  In South Carolina you don’t have to have left the store or even tried to get past the point of sale (cash registers) to be charged:

  • If you take possession or transfer to another person;
  • Alter, transfer or remove any label or the price tag;
  • Transfer any merchandise from one container to another container with intent to deprive the store of full retail value then its shoplifting.

There are three levels of shoplifting in South Carolina ranging from a misdemeanor to felony charges depending on the value of the merchandise in question.

  • Less than $2,000 then it’s a misdemeanor 0-30 day and/or fine $1,000 offense in magistrate or municipal courts;
  • Greater than $2,000 but less than $10,000 is a felony up to 5 yrs. in prison. Up to means that probation is a possibility if you are convicted;
  • Greater than $10,000 is a felony up to 10 yrs. in prison.

If you have two (2) or more property offense convictions, then you can be charged with a felony even if the merchandise is below $2,000.

The typical scenario occurs through the use of in-store video surveillance cameras where most stores have very good quality video equipment.  Typically, a loss prevention officer, who is not a law enforcement officer, will confront you with what they claim to have seen and ask you to go to a room where you will be questioned.  Because they are not law enforcement Miranda warnings are not triggered so any statement you make with being advised of Miranda can be used against you.

If you place the item in your bag, handbag and walk around the store, they do not have to wait for you to get to the point of sale to place you under arrest.  They can argue that your concealment showed the intent needed to deprive the store of the merchandise.

Shoplifting Defenses

So, what can you do when facing a shoplifting charge?  Good attorney know that the state must show the evidence that supports the charge.  Do they have the video evidence, did they fail to preserve it, where you involved in the act or just merely present when your friend tried to take the merchandise.  Even if the state can prove the charge you still may have options available such as diversionary programs where you won’t end up with a conviction.

Charleston, SC Criminal Defense Attorney

If have been charged with shoplifting and want to discuss your options, please call me at (843) 530-7813.  I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.

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