18 Questions On Petit Larceny & Grand Larceny Charges in SC

by | Nov 9, 2016 | Criminal | 0 comments

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Whether you took a sweater from a store like Walmart or Target, a piece of jewelry from a friend, or a lipstick from Walgreens, you could face a charge of petit larceny or grand larceny in the State of South Carolina.

Under South Carolina law, if you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you run the risk of facing a larceny charge. The value of the items you take will determine whether your charge is petit larceny or grand larceny. The specific item taken could also make a difference. South Carolina law has special rules that cover the theft of certain things, like livestock, dogs, water vessels, bicycles and crude turpentine.

The first step in dealing with your larceny charge is understanding what exactly it means. Here are answers to some of the most common questions we are asked about petit and grand larceny charges in South Carolina.

18 Questions About Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny Charges in SC

1. What does larceny mean?

Under South Carolina law, larceny is defined as “[the] unlawful taking of property that belongs to another person, done with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property.”
In simple terms, it means taking something that belongs to someone else. Larceny doesn’t involve the use of force. If force is used, it’s more likely that you will receive a robbery charge.

Larceny can be broken down into two categories:

  • 1. Petit larceny
  • 2. Grand larceny

2. Is larceny the same as theft?

Yes. Larceny and theft are the same thing.

3. What is grand larceny?

Under South Carolina law, grand larceny is defined as: “larceny of goods, chattels, instruments, or other personalty valued in excess of two thousand dollars.”

In short, grand larceny is when you take something worth more than $2,000.

The penalties for grand larceny can be quite severe and are listed in the below table.

Charge Fine Jail
Felony Amount to be determined by the court

Up to five years if the property is more than $2,000 but less than $10,000.

Up to ten years if the property is more than $10,000.

*Note: Punishment will include a fine OR jail time, not both.

4. What’s petit larceny?

Petit larceny, or simple larceny, is defined as “larceny of any article of goods, […] bank bills, bills receivable, chattels, or other article of personalty 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, or has a value of two thousand dollars or less.”

In other words, petit larceny is when you take something worth less than $2,000.

Naturally, the penalties for petit larceny are less severe than those for grand larceny.

Charge Fine Jail
Misdemeanor Up to $1,000 Up to 30 days
*Note: Punishment will include a fine OR jail time, not both.

5. Is it larceny if I steal a dog or other animal?

Yes, stealing a dog or other animal is considered larceny. In South Carolina, there are special rules that cover the stealing of live animals.

If you steal a dog, you could face the penalties listed in the below table.

Charge Fine Jail
Misdemeanor Up to $500 Up to 6 months
*Note: Can receive a fine, jail, or BOTH

If you steal livestock—which can include, but isn’t limited to, a horse, mule, cow or hog—the consequences you’ll face will depend on the total value of the livestock stolen.

The potential penalties are listed in the chart below.

Value of livestock Charge Fine Jail
$2,000 or less Misdemeanor Up to $1,000 Up to 30 days
More than $2,000 but less than $10,000 Felony Up to $500 Up to 5 years
$10,000 or more Felony Up to $2,500 Up to 10 years
*Note: Can receive a fine, jail, or BOTH

6. Is larceny a felony?

That depends on whether the larceny you commit is classified as petit or grand. While petit larceny is a misdemeanor, grand larceny is a felony.

7. Is larceny a misdemeanor?

Petit larceny is a misdemeanor; however, grand larceny is a felony.

8. What is larceny in a building?

If you go into a building without permission, you’re probably going to be charged with burglary. Under South Carolina law, burglary means that you entered the building unlawfully with an intent to commit a crime.

Depending on what you do once you are inside the building, you might also face a larceny charge. Larceny will probably be added to your burglary charge if you:

  • Took things from the building
  • Used services while you were in the building
  • Used services in the building that related to your crime

9. What is larceny by conversion?

By definition, larceny by conversion is when:“a person […] having lawfully obtained funds or other property […] knowingly converts the funds or property to his own use in violation of the agreement or legal obligation.”

There is no specific law dealing with larceny by conversion in the state of South Carolina.

10. What is larceny by trick?

Larceny by trick is when you get someone’s property by tricking another person into giving it to you. For example, if you write a letter to your parent’s bank, forge his or her signatures on it and ultimately get money from the account, you’ve committed larceny by trick.

There is no specific law dealing with larceny by trick in the state of South Carolina.

11. What is larceny vs. burglary?

Larceny and burglary are often used interchangeably. They aren’t the same thing under the law, however.

You commit larceny when you take someone’s property or services. On the other hand, you commit burglary when you enter into a building without permission with the plan to commit a crime once inside. You don’t have to actually have taken anything to commit burglary.

12. What is larceny vs. robbery?

While larceny and robbery both involve taking something from someone without his or her consent, there is a difference between these two things.

You commit robbery, not larceny, when you use intimidation or force.

South Carolina law identifies two different types of robbery:

  • 1. Strong-arm Robbery – Using force or intimidation to take property
  • 2. Armed Robbery – Using force or intimidation and a deadly weapon to take property

13. What is larceny from a person?

Larceny from a person is very similar to robbery. The difference is, when you commit larceny of a person, you don’t use intimidation, force or a weapon. A pickpocket who takes someone’s phone without him or her knowing, for example, commits larceny from a person, not a robbery. There isn’t a separate charge for “larceny from a person.” It’s just called either petit or grand larceny.

14. What is larceny of a motor vehicle?

South Carolina law doesn’t have special rules that cover the theft of vehicles.

If you steal a vehicle, you could either be charged with petit larceny or grand larceny, depending on how much the vehicle is worth. If the vehicle is worth less than $2,000, you’ll be charged with petit larceny. If the vehicle was worth more than $2,000, you’ll be charged with grand larceny.

15. What is larceny of a bike?

As its name indicates, larceny of a bike is when you steal a bicycle. As long as the bicycle is worth less than $2,000, you’ll be tried in magistrate or municipal court.

If you are convicted of larceny of a bike, you may face the consequences listed in the below table.

Charge Fine Jail
Misdemeanor Up to $1,000 Up to 30 days
*Note: Can receive fine or jail time, not both

16. What is larceny of a boat?

South Carolina law has special rules that cover the stealing of a water vessel, which is called larceny of a boat. If you commit larceny of a boat, you must repay the owner for all of the damages suffered. This means that you will have to pay for any damage to the stolen water vessel or, if the boat is destroyed or lost after you stole it, you’ll have to pay to replace it.

In addition to having to pay for damages or loss, you’ll face additional consequences for larceny of a boat. The severity of these consequences depend on the value of the boat and are listed in the below table.

Value of Boat Charge Fine Jail
$2,000 or less Misdemeanor Up to $1,000 Up to 30 days
$2,001 to $10,000 Felony At the discretion of the court Up to 5 years
More than $10,000 Felony At the discretion of the court Up to 10 years
*Note: Can receive a fine or jail time, not both

17. Can grand larceny be expunged?

Because grand larceny is a felony, it cannot be expunged, meaning it can’t be removed from your record.

18. Does petit larceny stay on your record?

Usually, petit larceny does not stay on your record since it is a misdemeanor. The outcome depends on the specifics of your case and the ruling of the judge. If a past charge of petit larceny is still on your record, you can work with an attorney to try to have it expunged.

Why You Need an Attorney to Defend You Against Your Larceny Charge

If you’re charged with larceny, you might be penalized with a small fine and a misdemeanor charge, but you shouldn’t count on a light sentence. The consequences for larceny in South Carolina vary quite a bit. You won’t know what your punishment will be until sentencing.

You need an experienced lawyer who will fight for your rights. Only a lawyer knows how to employ methods that can reduce your sentence. At the start of a case, a skilled lawyer might be able to work out a plea bargain, have evidence thrown out or maybe even have the whole case thrown out. As the case continues, your lawyer will create and present a strong defense. At the end of the case, your attorney will argue for a light sentence.

You don’t have to fight your larceny charge alone. We want to support you. Contact us today at (843) 488-5000 to discuss your case, or email us through our online contact form.

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