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South Carolina Code § 16-13-110: Shoplifting
Under South Carolina Code § 16-13-110, shoplifting is criminal charge where the defendant is accused of trying to defraud a business or merchant not paying the retail price for their items.
Depending on the value of the items taken criminal offense during the “shoplifting,” the Defendant may face either a felony or misdemeanor in South Carolina.
Being charged with (accused of) a criminal offense does not mean you are automatically convicted (or guilty). There are instances of mistake of fact, false accusations, and wrongful arrest.
In order to be convicted of a criminal offense, the State (the prosecutor is often referred to as the “solicitor”) must establish the necessary elements to prove a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt.
The “essential elements” for shoplifting in South Carolina generally include allegations that the accused:
- Removed items from a store (merchant’s place of business) without paying full retail price
- Removed or altered a price tag, attempting to buy (purchase) the item at the altered price OR
- Willfully conceals an item (merchant property) with the intent to avoid paying full retail price for it
Shoplifting is a specific intent crime, meaning that the prosecutor must prove that the Defendant meant to deprive the store or merchant of receiving full value for the item(s).
As such, not only must the “act” itself be proven, but also that the Defendant had the “guilty mind” known as mens rea to commit the crime. Defense lawyers in South Carolina may also refer to mens rea as the “evil” or “guilty” mind.
Intent can be inferred (surmised, gathered, deduced) from the Defendant’s actions (i.e. willfully and/or intentionally concealing the items).
It is important to note that simply attempting to conceal an item or merchandise in a store may also be considered an attempt to shoplift and potentially result in allegations of shoplifting and the resulting criminal charges.2. Examples of Shoplifting
The Defendant enters into a department store in Lancaster, SC. The Defendant takes a brand new pair of shoes, puts them in a bag, and leaves the store without paying. The shoes are priced at $120. The Defendant may be charged with Shoplifting in South Carolina. Such an offense likely would be considered a Misdemeanor offense because the item taken was valued less than $2,000.
The Defendant enters a discount store in Rock Hill, SC. The Defendant takes a clearance sticker ($9.99 “clearance”) off of a t-shirt and places it on a new blouse that is not on sale. The Defendant then tries to use the self-checkout and pay the clearance price for the new blouse. The price of the new blouse is $34.99. The Defendant may be accused of misdemeanor shoplifting in York County.
The Defendant is at an electronics store and notices that the cabinet holding new cell phones is unlocked. The Defendant takes two boxes, each containing the ten of the phones, puts them inside his jacket, and leaves the store. The value of the items exceeds more than $10,000. The Defendant may be detained and arrested for Felony Shoplifting in South Carolina. The maximum punishment for such an offense could be up to ten years in prison.
The Defendant takes a flatbed cart into TV specialty store in Fort Mill, South Carolina and loads a 75-inch flat screen, “hi-def” television onto it. The Defendant then rolls the television out of the store while the in-store security employee is distracted checking another customer’s receipt. The television is valued at $3,900. The Defendant may also be arrested and prosecuted for Felony Shoplifting. The maximum prison term for such a felony criminal charge in South Carolina is up to 5 years in prison.3. Related Offenses
Other related crimes offenses include:
- South Carolina Code Ann. 16-13-110: Shoplifting
- South Carolina Code Annotated 16-13-30: Petit Larceny; Grand Larceny (Misdemeanor; Felony)
- South Carolina Code Annotated 16-11-311: First Degree Burglary
- South Carolina Code Annotated 16-11-330: Robbery and Attempted Robbery While Armed with a Deadly Weapon (Felony)
- South Carolina Code Annotated 16-17-530: Public Disorderly Conduct (Misdemeanor)
- South Carolina Criminal Lawyers and Information
It is possible to challenge the elements for Shoplifting, most commonly the specific intent element. However, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case to determine the most appropriate defense(s) based on your circumstances, especially if you have been falsely accused of criminal charges.5. Penalties for Shoplifting
Shoplifting can be a misdemeanor or felony offense in South Carolina depending on the value of the merchandise. The following chart breaks down the penalties for each:
|Merchandise Value||Offense Level||Fine||Imprisonment|
|Less than $2,000||Misdemeanor||Maximum $1,000||Up to 30 days|
|$2,000 - $10,000||Felony||Maximum $1,000||Maximum of 5 years in prison|
|$10,000 or more||Felony||Maximum $1,000||Maximum of 10 years in prison|
Other potential penalties for shoplifting charges can also include being banned from the store where the charges arose, civil lawsuits for monetary reimbursement, possible permanent criminal record, etc.6. Criminal Defense for Shoplifting
If you are facing criminal charges for Shoplifting in South Carolina, you should contact a criminal lawyer in York County SC immediately. It is important to remain silent, not provide a statement, or admit guilt.
Take the fifth. Exercise your Constitutional Rights. Ask to speak with a lawyer.
Attorney Chris Beddow is solely responsible for South Carolina cases at Powers Law Firm PA. He is also responsible for all legal materials and law content regarding South Carolina on the website, blog, etc.
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