Property Crimes Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC

Daniel A. Selwa, Attorney at Law, is a property crimes lawyer located in Surfside Beach, SC, who accepts property crimes cases in Horry County, Georgetown County, and the surrounding areas.

Property crimes are often handled differently than other types of cases, and defense lawyers who have experience handling these types of cases know that:

  • An independent investigation of the facts can be key to resolving the case without a conviction or winning the case at trial,
  • There are often alleged victims who are angry and who want justice,
  • In some cases, the prosecutor may dismiss the allegations without a trial based on the payment of restitution (through the prosecutor’s office), based upon facts uncovered during the defense investigation, or based upon insufficient evidence, and
  • When a person is convicted, the court is more likely to send them to prison if they are not prepared to pay full restitution to the alleged victims.
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horry county criminal defense lawyer in myrtle beach SC surfside conway georgetown

Horry County Property Crimes Attorney

A property crime is a crime where another person’s property is harmed, whether it is stolen or damaged, and whether the alleged victim is an individual or a business.

Property crimes under SC law include offenses like:

  • Burglary 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree,
  • Breach of trust with fraudulent intent,
  • Grand larceny and petit larceny,
  • Receiving or possession of stolen goods,
  • Possession of a stolen vehicle,
  • Shoplifting,
  • Arson,
  • Trespass after notice, and
  • SC’s property crime enhancement.

Learn About SC Property Crimes Laws

Penalties that are Based on the Property Value

The potential penalties if a person is convicted of a property crime in SC usually depend on the value of the property that was stolen or damaged.

For example:

  • Petit larceny, possession of stolen goods, or shoplifting less than $2000 carries up to 30 days in jail,
  • Grand larceny, possession of stolen goods, or shoplifting $2000 up to $10,000 carries up to five years in prison, and
  • Grand larceny, possession of stolen goods, or shoplifting $10,000 or more carries up to ten years in prison.

This doesn’t apply to all property crimes. For example, burglary charges are not based on the dollar value of any property stolen, and burglary first degree carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison.

Victims and Restitution

In many property crimes, the alleged victim or victims are asking the court to force you to pay restitution.

If the amount of restitution is incorrect or unreasonable, you can challenge it by asking the court for a restitution hearing where the court will hear evidence on the value of the property that was stolen or damaged.

On the other hand, in some cases, you may be able to ask for leniency or even dismissal of the charges if you pay restitution in advance – through your property crimes lawyer and the solicitor’s office. Do not contact an alleged victim or offer to pay their restitution on your own.

Property Crime Enhancement

SC Code § 16-1-57 says that, if a person is convicted of a third offense for any crime where the potential penalties depend on the dollar value of the property involved, the penalty is up to ten years (they must “be punished as prescribed for a Class E felony”).

How Property Crimes Are Different from Other Cases

How are property crimes different from other criminal offenses in South Carolina?

  • They are often based on the dollar value of the property involved,
  • The penalties can be enhanced to a ten-year felony based on the number of prior convictions,
  • There is often an angry alleged victim who wants compensation and who may want you in prison, and
  • In some cases, a dismissal or plea agreement can be negotiated based on the payment of restitution.

FAQ for Horry County Property Crimes Lawyers

Can I Get Probation for a Property Crime?

You can be placed on probation if you are convicted of most property crimes (burglary first degree has a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence, however).

If you are convicted, whether you are placed on probation or sentenced to prison will depend on many factors including:

  • Whether restitution can be made to any victims,
  • What the victims ask the court to do at your sentencing hearing,
  • What the solicitor asks the court to do at your sentencing hearing,
  • Your prior criminal history, and
  • Your mitigation presented by your defense attorney.

Will My Case be Dismissed if the Alleged Victim Doesn’t Show Up?

The prosecutor will communicate with the alleged victim and subpoena them to court if their testimony is needed at trial.

If the alleged victim or any essential prosecution witness is unavailable to testify, your case could be dismissed for insufficient evidence. The alleged victim is not always an essential witness, however.

In some cases, the alleged victim does not want the defendant to be prosecuted – if this is the case, you must leave it to the prosecutor and your attorney to speak to the alleged victim and negotiate a dismissal or other resolution of the case.

Should I Pay Restitution to the Alleged Victim Before Court?

You should never contact or offer money to an alleged victim in a criminal case, because 1) your bond order most likely prohibits any contact, direct or indirect, with the alleged victim, and 2) you could be charged with tampering or bribing a witness in your case.

Your attorney and the solicitor’s office must handle any communications with the alleged victim, including the payment of restitution when appropriate.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Property Crime?

Even if the offense is a “minor” crime in the magistrate or municipal court, your defense lawyer could make the difference between 1) a conviction for theft that will appear on your criminal history and prevent you from getting jobs, or 2) a dismissal and expungement of the charges.

In many cases, the court will sentence defendants to prison for property crimes if the case is not handled carefully. Do not gamble with your freedom or your criminal history, and, if you have been arrested or if you believe you are under investigation, contact an experienced property crimes attorney now.

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