Property Crime Defense Lawyer in Conway, SC
Property crime covers those offenses where a person’s property has been stolen, vandalized, or damaged. Property crimes include burglary, shoplifting, larceny, forgery, financial identity crimes, arson, breach of trust with fraudulent intent, and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Most property crime, with some exceptions like burglary, are classified based on the dollar value of the theft or damage and are usually split into three groups:
- Amounts less than $2000 will usually be a misdemeanor offense in the magistrate or municipal court.
- Amounts greater than $2000 but less than $10,000 are in the court of general sessions.
- Amounts greater than $10,000 are in the court of general sessions.
There is also a catch-all enhancement statute that allows prosecutors to seek a penalty of up to 10 years in prison when a person is charged with their third or subsequent offense even if the offense would otherwise have been a 30-day misdemeanor.
A South Carolina burglary charge can be first, second, or third-degree depending on the circumstances and whether certain aggravating factors are present.
Aggravating factors include whether the crime occurred in the nighttime, whether the suspect had a gun during the commission of a crime, and how many prior convictions the suspect has. The prosecution must prove that the defendant entered a building or dwelling without consent and with the intent to commit a crime at the time that they entered.
- Burglary third degree carries up to five years in prison, and it covers when a person enters an unoccupied building such as a storage shed. If there are aggravating factors present, burglary third degree is upgraded to burglary second degree.
- Burglary second degree can carry up to 15 years when it is based on entering an unoccupied building with aggravating factors, or it can carry up to 10 years when it is based on entering a dwelling with no aggravating factors.
- Burglary first degree carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years with no parole up to life in prison. The prosecution must prove that the person entered a dwelling without consent and with the intent to commit a crime, and they must prove an aggravating factor such as possession of a firearm or that the offense occurred in the nighttime.
Get Your Attorney Involved ASAP
In any case involving property crime, it is important to get your attorney involved as early as possible and before you speak to law enforcement.
An independent defense investigation can turn up critical impeachment evidence to use against an alleged victim or other witnesses. In some cases, an arrest can be avoided when an attorney gets involved early enough to negotiate with law enforcement before they begin building a case. Many property crimes turn out to be a civil matter where the alleged victim was angry, did not want to wait for the outcome of a civil lawsuit, or was given bad advice by their own attorney or law enforcement.
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Contact Johnny Gardner Now
If you have been charged with any type of property crime or if you believe you are under investigation for a property crime, call Johnny Gardner Law today to set up a free consultation to find out how we can help.