Grand larceny charges in SC can carry up to ten years in prison and give you a criminal record for stealing that may follow you for the rest of your life.
But first, just what is grand larceny in SC?
If I take something that belongs to you, is that automatically grand larceny, or does it matter if I intended to return the item? When does petit larceny become grand larceny, and what is the difference?
In this article you will learn:
- What grand larceny is in SC,
- The potential penalties if you are convicted of grand larceny, and
- Why it is critical that you retain an attorney and fight if you have been charged with grand larceny.
Grand Larceny Charges in SC
Grand larceny charges are heard in SC’s General Sessions Court – the “higher” circuit court that hears more serious offenses.
Although most people understand that larceny means to steal something, grand larceny charges may not always be that cut and dry – what is grand larceny in SC and what are some potential defenses to the charges?
What is Grand Larceny?
Larceny means stealing – but it does not necessarily cover every situation where someone takes something that does not belong to them.
If you borrowed an item from someone and intended to return it, that is not larceny – to convict a person of larceny, the state must prove:
1) that they took property that did not belong to them, but they also must prove
2) that the person intended to deprive the true owner of the property of its use and convert it to the person’s own use.
Although borrowing property without permission may qualify as another crime (for example, temporary unlawful use of vehicle), it is not larceny.
What Makes Larceny “Grand?”
When someone takes another’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of its use, that is larceny.
SC Code Section 16-13-30 defines “petit larceny” as taking “any article of goods, choses in action, bank bills, bills receivable, chattels, or other article of personal property of which by law larceny may be committed, or of any fixture, part, or product of the soil severed from the soil by an unlawful act,” when the value of the property is two thousand dollars or less.
“Grand larceny” is the theft of “goods, chattels, instruments, or other personal property valued in excess of two thousand dollars.”
If the value of the property is $2000 or less, the petit larceny charge will be in the lower courts – either the magistrate court (county) or the municipal court (city). When the value of the property is greater than $2000, the potential penalties are much higher, and so the case is heard in General Sessions Court.
Grand larceny charges in SC usually do not involve the use of force – if someone uses force to take property, they may be charged with:
- Armed robbery (if they used a deadly weapon, or what appears to be a weapon),
- Strong-armed robbery (if they did not use a weapon), or
- Purse snatching.
What was Stolen?
Grand larceny charges do not apply to every type of property. It applies to “goods, chattels, instruments, or other personal property.”
That includes most types of personal property, whether it is cash, a wallet, a lawnmower, or a computer, but there are some types of property that are specifically covered by separate criminal statutes.
Special Larceny Charges
Larceny-type charges that have their own criminal statutes include the theft of:
- Merchandise in stores (shoplifting),
- Bonds or promissory notes,
- Fish, shellfish, crustacean, or plants from an aquaculture operation,
- Boats or parts of boats,
- Crude Turpentine,
- Works of art or literature, and
- Electric current.
Although possessing stolen property does not make you guilty of grand larceny, it is a separate crime to knowingly receive or possess stolen property, even if you did not take the property yourself.
Is Grand Theft Auto a Crime in SC?
The theft of motor vehicles in SC is charged as grand larceny (or petit larceny if the vehicle is worth $2000 or less).
Penalties for a Grand Larceny Conviction in SC
A conviction for grand larceny in SC can result in hefty fines, significant jail time, and a permanent criminal record for stealing that may affect your ability to find meaningful employment for the rest of your life.
Grand larceny is a felony that is punishable by either five years or ten years in prison, in addition to a fine that is in the court’s discretion:
|Charges||Dollar Value||Felony or Misdemeanor||Potential Jail Time||Potential Fine|
|Petit Larceny||$2000 or less||Misdemeanor||Up to 30 days||None|
|Grand Larceny||$2000||Felony||Up to five years||Court’s discretion|
|Grand Larceny||$10,000||Felony||Up to ten years||Court’s discretion|
Can Grand Larceny Charges be Expunged?
Grand larceny charges cannot be expunged unless you plead guilty under South Carolina’s Youthful Offender Act (YOA) – then, the conviction can be expunged five years after you have completed your sentence – or unless you completed a pretrial diversion program.
Petit larceny charges can be expunged after three years if it was a first offense, or if you completed a pretrial diversion program.
Why Do You Need an Attorney for Grand Larceny Charges?
Do you need an attorney for grand larceny charges in SC?
Your attorney will:
- Get the evidence against you and investigate your case to find the evidence that can help you to get your case dismissed or win at trial.
- Find any possible legal defenses to your grand larceny charges.
- Prepare mitigation that may help to get your case dismissed, get you into a pretrial diversion program, or persuade the court to put you on probation instead of sending you to prison.
If you are convicted of grand larceny, you could be ordered to pay a fine, you could be ordered to pay restitution to the alleged victim, you could be sentenced to as much as ten years in prison, or you could be placed on probation.
What makes the difference?
1) Whether you are convicted and 2) what happens if you are convicted may depend on whether you retained an attorney with experience fighting grand larceny charges early in your case.
Charged with Grand Larceny in SC?
If you are charged with grand larceny in SC, get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side immediately who can investigate your case, find the evidence to prove your innocence when possible, negotiate with the state, and try your case to a jury when necessary.
Call 843-761-3840 or use this form to contact us today to discuss your case and start working towards the best possible outcome for you.
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