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Columbia SC Theft and Larceny Defense Attorneys

Columbia Theft and Larceny Defense Attorneys

Criminal defense against shoplifting and burglary charges in Columbia, South Carolina

A theft charge on your record is a signal to potential employers and anyone running a background check that you’re untrustworthy. Whether a conviction for larceny, robbery, or burglary, having this offense on your record can result in penalties like jail time, fines, restitution, and loss of gun rights. And, the ramifications of a criminal record can follow you far, far into the future, affecting every aspect of your life.

Even misdemeanor theft charges can have a significant and negative impact, which is why it’s crucial to secure experienced defense. Attorney A. Randolph Hough has decades of experience, both as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney, meaning he knows the local and state criminal justice system inside and out. He understands how to work every angle of a case to your benefit.

At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., when you’re facing theft or larceny charges, we protect your constitutional rights. Our job is to keep your criminal record clean and work to have the charges against you minimized or dismissed. We put our experience and our resources to work for your defense. Contact our Columbia and Charleston offices today.

“Remember, an arrest is not a conviction.”    -    Attorney Hough


What are theft and larceny charges in SC?

Under South Carolina law, theft is typically charged as larceny. Charges are more severe depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen, as well as if the individual had a previous criminal record. For example, petit larceny is a misdemeanor, while grand larceny is a felony. It’s important to understand the charges you’re facing, as well as the consequences of a conviction. We work with you to design a strategic defense to avoid as many of these penalties as possible.

Petit larceny

Also known as petty theft, petit larceny is a misdemeanor, but still a serious offense. An individual may be charged with petit larceny when the value of the stolen goods or services is no more than $2,000. A conviction can result in fines and up to 30 days in jail.

Grand larceny

Grand larceny is a felony, and includes any theft of goods or services more than $2,000. If the value is less than $10,000, a conviction can result to up to five years in jail. If the value is more than $10,000, a conviction can result in up to 10 years in jail. The court also has discretion to hand down fines as high as it deems reasonable.


Shoplifting is an extremely common offense, and also falls under the umbrella of theft here in the Columbia and Charleston area. Shoplifting charges can be categorized from misdemeanors to felonies, with significant jail time depending on the value of the merchandise stolen:

  • Merchandise valued $2,000 or less is a misdemeanor, with a conviction resulting in up to 30 days in jail
  • Merchandise valued more than $2,000 and less than $10,000 is a felony, with a conviction resulting in up to five years in jail
  • Merchandise valued more than $10,000 is also a felony, with a conviction resulting in up to 10 years in jail

According to state law, shoplifting can include any of the following:

  • Concealing one item inside another to avoid paying for it
  • Consuming perishable items while shopping without paying for them
  • Intentionally leaving a store with an item you didn’t pay for
  • Switching/changing price tags on an item so it appears to cost less

As a longtime theft defense lawyer, Attorney Hough understands that there are a variety of situations that can lead to misunderstandings, and you may find yourself facing shoplifting charges without ever having intended to steal anything.

Perhaps you forgot there was an item in the bottom of your cart. Or maybe you didn’t realize another shopper had hidden an item inside one you bought until you left the store and the alarms went off. You might be charged for another person’s attempted crime, and we will protect your rights and ensure that your side of the story is heard.

The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A. also aggressively defends clients against other criminal charges, including assault, arson, kidnapping, and charges against college students. We also handle drunk driving defense.

What are the different degrees of burglary in SC?

Burglary is addressed under South Carolina Code § 16-11-311 through 313, and involves unlawfully entering a property with the intent of stealing. Here’s something important to note about burglary – you don’t have to actually steal anything to be charged. An individual just has to have the intent and enter the building (even partially) from which he or she intended to steal.

An individual may be charged with one of three degrees of burglary if he or she enters a building with the intent to commit a crime and meets one of the following criteria.

First-degree burglary

The most serious of burglary charges, burglary in the first degree, is a felony and carries a minimum of 15 years to life in prison. Individuals can be charged if they:

  • Are armed with a deadly weapon
  • Display a knife or firearm
  • Enter or remain in the building at night
  • Have a previous criminal burglary conviction
  • Injure a person not involved with the crime
  • Use, or threaten to use, a dangerous instrument

Second-degree burglary

Burglary in the second degree is typically broken down into violent and non-violent charges, but both are felony crimes. It’s important to understand the difference between these two, as a violent offense can add five years in prison if convicted. Second-degree burglary (violent) carries a maximum of 15 years in jail, and second-degree burglary (non-violent) carries a maximum of 10 years.

Third-degree burglary

An individual can be charged with burglary in the third degree if he or she unlawfully enters a building with the intent to commit a crime. Third-degree burglary is a felony and can result in up to five years in jail for a first offense and up to 10 years for a second conviction.

In burglary cases, the prosecution is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had criminal intent and that you entered a building without permission. Attorney Hough’s previous experience as a prosecutor gives him the know-how to design a strong defense strategy with all of these factors in mind. With so much at stake, including the possibility of a criminal record, it’s crucial you have knowledgeable legal counsel.

Dedicated legal help when you’re facing theft or burglary charges

Whether you’ve been charged with petit larceny, shoplifting, or first-degree burglary, a criminal conviction can follow you forever – preventing you from professional success, tarnishing your reputation, and stripping you of your constitutional rights. At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we work to keep your record clean and your freedom secure. To schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Columbia or Charleston, please call 803-771-4119 or fill out our contact form.