Shoplifting Defense Attorneys in Charleston South Carolina


Call 843-284-5500
Free Consultation

Shoplifting Defense Attorneys in Charleston SC


Free Consultation

Shoplifting Defense Lawyers in Charleston

If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting in Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, or the surrounding areas, then you’ll need a tough defense lawyer to make a difference. After all, you deserve the best defense. Let a Charleston shoplifting attorney from Futeral & Nelson help you. Stephan Futeral and Thomas Nelson have over 30 years of combined experience defending folks in the Charleston area who’ve been arrested for shoplifting by stores such as Wal-Mart and others. 

You shouldn’t pay a fortune for your defense. Hiring a shoplifting attorney from Futeral & Nelson is more affordable than you might think. Also, we offer payment plans and discounts for law enforcement, military, and firefighters.

If you need a lawyer to defend you for shoplifting in the Charleston area, then meet with an attorney from Futeral & Nelson today for a FREE and confidential meeting.

We strive to be the best at what we do. That’s why our law firm is top-rated (AV) by Martindale-Hubbell, Stephan Futeral is rated 10 (Superb) by AVVO, Charleston Thomas Nelson is one of Super Lawyers Rising Stars, and clients endorse us with 5 stars ★★★★★ on Google Reviews

What is the Crime of Shoplifting in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, a person is guilty of shoplifting under statute 16-13-110 if he or she:

  1. takes merchandise from a store (or gives to another person) with the intent not to pay for the merchandise; or
  2. alters, transfers, or removes any label, price tag, etc. and attempts to buy the merchandise personally or with another’s help with the intent to pay less than the full retail value; or
  3. transfers merchandise from its container or packaging into another container with the intent to deprive the merchant of the full retail value.

Concealment of Unpurchased Goods in South Carolina

Shoplifting is a crime of “intent.” What that means is that a prosecutor must show that you actually intended to commit the crime of shoplifting.

Over the years, we’ve defending shoplifting charges involving persons who didn’t intend to commit a crime. This includes persons who placed merchandise in their pockets or a purse because their hands were full, persons whose small children picked up other items and put the merchandise into a pocket or purse, persons who walked out of the store with items under a grocery cart or shopping cart, and other similar scenarios. In these cases, our clients had every intention of paying for the merchandise but because they were in a rush or their hands were full, they overlooked all of the items they had during check out. In one scenario, the store clerk actually forgot to ring up all of the merchandise in a client’s cart, yet the client was accused of shoplifting.

Even in scenarios where you’ve simply made a mistake, you may still be charged with shoplifting. Under South Carolina law, “intent” may be inferred when a person willfully (purposefully) conceals merchandise in or outside of the store. If the goods are concealed on your person or in your personal belongings such as your pockets or a handbag, then it may be inferred that you willfully concealed the merchandise with the intent of not paying for the merchandise.

Criminal Penalties for Shoplifting in South Carolina

If the merchandise is $200 or less, then it is a misdemeanor punishable up to a $1,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail. If the merchandise is worth more than $200 but less than $10,000, then it is a felony punishable to a $1,000 fine and up to 5 years in jail. If the merchandise is worth $10,000 or more, it is a felony punishable up to 10 years in jail.

Civil Liability for Shoplifting in South Carolina

In addition to criminal consequences for shoplifting, there can be civil consequences under South Carolina statute Section 15-75-40. A shoplifter may be civilly liable to the store or business for:

  1. the retail price of the merchandise if not recovered in merchantable condition up to an amount not to exceed fifteen hundred dollars; plus
  2. a penalty not to exceed the greater of three times the retail price of the merchandise or one hundred fifty dollars. In no event may the penalty exceed five hundred dollars.

Parents or legal guardians of a minor who knew or should have known of the minor’s propensity to steal may also be civilly liable for the same amounts described above. The business or store can sue a shoplifter for civil damages regardless of whether there has been a criminal conviction or a plea of guilty regarding shoplifting.

To collect civil damages and penalties, the merchant must first send a written notice by certified mail and use specific language and give specific notices that are described in the state statute. If a store first chooses to collect civil damages and penalties from a shoplifter, the store can’t later file criminal charges pursuant to Section 16-13-110.

In several of the shoplifting cases we’ve handled concerning Wal-Mart, our clients have received “Settlement Offer” notices even though Wal-Mart recovered ALL of the merchandise that was allegedly stolen. These letters were sent by the law firm of Palmer, Reifler & Associates in Orlando, Florida. In these cases, Wal-Mart tried to “double-dip” by seeking civil damages even though they recovered (and presumably sold) the items that were allegedly stolen. Additionally, these letters didn’t follow all of the requirements of Section 15-75-40 such as notice by certified mail or listing the merchandise in issue. Before you respond to a “Settlement Offer” notice from Wal-Mart or Palmer, Reifler & Associates, contact an attorney to see whether Wal-Mart is entitled to anything under South Carolina law.