Shoplifting Charges in South Carolina

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in South Carolina. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

Shoplifting in South Carolina is a crime with serious penalties, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by merchants in civil court to recover damages.

South Carolina Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting is broadly defined in South Carolina. Shoplifting can be committed by engaging in actions including taking merchandise from a store, altering or removing price tags, or transferring merchandise to a different container, with the intention of depriving the merchant, and without paying full retail value. Under South Carolina law, a person who conceals unpurchased merchandise can be presumed to intend to shoplift the merchandise.

Shoplifters face criminal penalties, including jail time and fines, as well as civil lawsuits by the victimized merchants to recover damages. Criminal and civil penalties are described below.

South Carolina Shoplifting Criminal Penalties




Shoplifting merchandise valued at $2,000 or less

Misdemeanor under 16-13-110(B)(1)

Trial in municipal or magistrates court, fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days of jail time

Shoplifting merchandise valued at more than $2,000 and less than $10,000

Felony under 16-13-110(B)(2)

Fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to five years of jail time

Shoplifting merchandise valued at $10,000 or more

Felony under 16-13-110(B)(3)

Jail time of up to 10 years

Civil Penalties

Adult and emancipated minor shoplifters (and in some cases the custodial parents or guardians of emancipated minor shoplifters) can be sued in civil court by victimized merchants. The merchants are entitled to the retail price of the merchandise, if not recovered in sellable condition (up to $1,500), plus a penalty equaling $150 or the greater of three times the retail price (up to $500).

Pretrial Intervention and Plea Bargaining

Pretrial intervention and diversion programs in South Carolina allow certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes to avoid prosecution. If an accused completes the program requirements, which may include activities such as performing community services and making restitution, the criminal charges will be dismissed.

Accused individuals who are not eligible for pretrial intervention and diversion programs may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to their case. Plea bargains typically involve pleading guilty in exchange for lesser charges or sentencing. The opportunity to arrange a plea bargain is at the discretion of the prosecutor.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in South Carolina, you should strongly consider getting legal help. Shoplifting can have serious consequences and a conviction could mean jail time and a lifetime criminal record. A qualified criminal attorney can help you to minimize these consequences and explore possible options such as pursing a pretrial intervention program, raising defenses, or negotiating a plea bargain.

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