Have you been charged with Petit Larceny? What is Petit Larceny in South Carolina?
This article is a brief introduction to the criminal charge of Petit Larceny and some of its direct and collateral consequences. You will learn:
- The definition of larceny
- The difference between petit larceny and grand larceny charges in SC
- The potential penalties if convicted of petit larceny in South Carolina
Criminal Charges for Larceny
So, what even is larceny? Larceny is defined as the “simple theft of any article of goods, choses in action, bank bills, bills receivable, chattels, or other article of 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.” In non-lawyer terms, larceny is simply a fancy word for theft.
Petit Larceny in South Carolina
There is no difference between larceny and theft in South Carolina. In general, larceny is the “unlawful taking of property that belongs to another person, done with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property.”
There are statutes in South Carolina that exist for certain items: bonds, livestock, cars, dogs, aquaculture operations, boats, bicycles, crude turpentine, etc. Everything else falls under the two main larceny offenses that exist in SC.
Aside from the specific statutes discussed above, there are two kinds of larceny in South Carolina: Petit and Grand. The difference between the two depends entirely on the value of the items stolen.
Petit Larceny is the theft of something under $2,000. For example, if someone came into someone else’s yard and stole a ladder or the dog. Assuming those items cost less than $2,000, the alleged defendant would be charged with Petit Larceny.
Potential Penalties if Convicted
Petit Larceny is classified as a misdemeanor under South Carolina law. Petit Larceny charges are tried in magistrate or municipal court. Petit Larceny is punishable by up to thirty days in jail OR up to $1,000 fine, but not both.
These penalties may seem minor, but they could seriously alter your life. Having a misdemeanor conviction means having a criminal record, and having to spend any amount of time in jail can affect your relationships and employment.
The other thing about Petit Larceny that is critical to understand is that it is a property crime. Under South Carolina law, if someone has been convicted of two property crimes, upon conviction of a third property crime the sentence can be enhanced to ten years!
By way of example, if someone has been convicted of Petit Larceny twice before, upon his/her third conviction for Petit Larceny, s/he can be sentenced to ten years by way of Property Crime Enhancement even though Petit Larceny only normally carries up to 30 days or up to $1,000 fine.
There are no guarantees as to how the judge decides your sentence. Judicial discretion applies in this situation, and the judge can evaluate your case using any detail he or she thinks is relevant, like your job history, education, family situation, prior offenses, if any, and more. It is very important that you contact a criminal defense attorney to help you through this process. The defense attorney’s argument in mitigation can sway the judge one way or the other.
Ready for help with your petit larceny charge?
A Petit Larceny conviction has direct consequences in the form of court penalties, as well as additional consequences that can alter your life. Convictions can affect employment, future job opportunities, your finances, your family, educational opportunities, and much more.
Don’t give up hope and give in to a guilty plea. If you have been charged with Petit Larceny, you should contact a South Carolina criminal defense attorney immediately. There may be defenses to your case that could help this difficult situation have a positive outcome.