Shoplifting charges can happen to anyone – loss prevention employees or other store employees in SC falsely accuse people of shoplifting more often than you would think.

Store owners and employees at outlets like Walmart, Kohls, J.C. Penney, and other department stores are trained to aggressively seek out shoplifters to protect the store's bottom line. Larger department store chains often hire loss-prevention staff whose sole job is to prevent shoplifting.

Unfortunately, this often leads to misunderstandings, conflict with store employees, and innocent people who thought they were going out for a quick trip to Walmart ending up in a jail cell overnight…

What is Shoplifting in SC?

A shoplifting charge in South Carolina can consist of:

  • Removing merchandise from a store;
  • Switching the tags on merchandise to get a better price; or even
  • Simply moving items from one area of a store to another.

In each case, there must be an intent to steal the items.

If a person innocently forgets to pay for an item, that person is not guilty of shoplifting. If a person is walking through the store and absent-mindedly places something into their bag but intends to pay for it before leaving, that is not shoplifting.

What are the Penalties for Shoplifting in SC?

Shoplifting in SC is a graduated offense – the penalties increase based on the dollar value of the items that were alleged to have been stolen:

  • Shoplifting less than $2000.00 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail;
  • Shoplifting greater than $2000.00 but less than $10,000.00 is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison; and
  • Shoplifting greater than $10,000.00 is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

If you have two or more convictions on your record for shoplifting or other property crimes that are based on the dollar value of the property, you can be charged under South Carolina's property crime enhancement law, regardless of the dollar amount.

If you are convicted of stealing something as small as a DVD, CD, or just a candy bar three times, you are looking at a potential 10-year prison sentence under SC law.

I Was Wrongfully Arrested in SC for Shoplifting, Can I Sue?

If you were arrested and charged with shoplifting without probable cause, you may have a civil lawsuit for damages against the police, the store, or the store’s employees after your criminal charges are dismissed or when you are acquitted at trial.  

We will gather and preserve all evidence that you may need for a wrongful arrest lawsuit and advise you as to whether you have a valid civil claim once your criminal charges are resolved.

SC Shoplifting Defense Attorney in Columbia, Lexington, and Myrtle Beach

If you have been charged with shoplifting in Horry County, Richland County, or Lexington County, SC, call the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm now at 843-444-6122 or contact us online for a free initial consultation to discuss your options.