There are multiple forms of theft ranging from embezzlement and shoplifting, which often occur without the victim’s direct knowledge, to robberies and burglaries. Those accused of theft crimes may sometimes feel like they don’t have many options to defend themselves.

Even if they know that they are innocent, they might feel tempted to take a plea bargain in order to put the charges behind them and move on with their life. While that approach is reasonable on the surface, it is flawed for a number of reasons.

First of all, a guilty plea will mean dealing with the repercussions of a criminal record. Secondly, you could still find yourself facing serious criminal penalties when you plead guilty. Finally, there’s a very real concern that a guilty plea or conviction will carry the risk of a civil lawsuit from the alleged victim.

South Carolina law increases penalties with the value of items stolen

Property crimes in South Carolina typically carry a financial value. The value of an offense depends on the total value of items or assets involved in the alleged crime, with the state breaking theft offenses into two primary categories.

Petit larceny is the lower classification for theft crimes. For someone to face petit larcency charges, the total value of the items involved should not exceed $2,000. For theft offenses involving property valued at more than $2,000, the accused will likely face grand larceny charges, which makes the offense a felony, not a misdemeanor.

The higher the value of items, the longer the penalties. For example, once the property’s value exceeds $10,000, the accused person could face a decade of incarceration. Additionally, the courts can order someone to pay costs, including civil compensation, to the victim, which could include the retail or market value of the property and punitive damages of up to three times the total value of items involved.

Consider all the consequences before you make criminal defense decisions

Facing criminal charges is a stressful ordeal, and many people are desperate to get things over with as quickly as possible. Don’t let your stress levels and fear dictate your decisions.

Taking a calm and rational approach to the charges you face and the various impacts they could have on your life will give you a better chance of mitigating those harmful consequences.