Shoplifting might seem like a minor offense, especially when compared to more serious theft offenses like grand larceny and robbery, but the consequences can be severe. But there’s more to the crime of shoplifting apart from taking goods away from a store.
Like other U.S. states, South Carolina prohibits shoplifting – as well as certain actions that constitute shoplifting. This blog will explore the state’s laws on shoplifting and the penalties for conviction.
According to state law, a person commits shoplifting if they do one of the following:
- Take possession of, carry away, transfer from one person to another or from one retail establishment to another area any merchandise without paying its full value, intending to deprive the merchant of the item
- Alter, transfer or remove any label or price tag while attempting to purchase the item at less than its full retail value.
- Transfer any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale from its container to any other container with the intent to deprive the merchant
South Carolina rules also specify that while a person willfully concealing unpurchased goods isn’t considered shoplifting, a merchant, security personnel or law enforcement officer is allowed to infer that a person concealing goods has the intent to convert it to their use and that finding concealed merchandise on a person is evidence of willful concealment.
Shoplifting items worth $2,000 or less is a misdemeanor. On conviction, a person faces up to $1,000 in fines and 30 days of jail time.
If the value of the stolen items is more than $2,000 but less than $10,000, the offense becomes a felony. A person convicted of this offense faces up to $1,000 in fines and five years of prison time.
Shoplifting involving more than $10,000 worth of merchandise is a felony, and a conviction leads to up to 10 years of prison time.
It may not be as violent or serious as other crimes, but shoplifting is still a punishable criminal offense. A conviction can lead to fines, jail time and a criminal record that stays with you for life. If you face charges, consider approaching a legal professional. An attorney may be able to help build your case and protect your rights in court.