Stolen Vehicle Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

In South Carolina, there are several charges that could be brought against a person based on theft or possession of a stolen vehicle.

You could be charged with grand larceny, petit larceny, possession of a stolen vehicle, or joyriding, depending on the facts of the case. What do each of these terms mean, and what are the potential penalties for stolen vehicles in SC?

Possession of Stolen Automobile in SC

You can be charged with possession of a stolen vehicle if: 1) the vehicle is found in your possession, and 2) you knew that the vehicle was stolen.

If you borrowed a friend’s car and it turns out it was stolen, odds are police will still arrest you, but your defense is that you did not know the car was stolen.

If police think that you stole the car, but they can’t prove it, they will charge you with possession of a stolen vehicle which carries the same potential penalties as actually stealing the car. Like larceny, shoplifting, and other property crimes in SC, the penalties for possession of a stolen vehicle are based on the dollar value of the vehicle:

  • Less than $2000: up to 30 days in jail;
  • More than $2000 but less than $10,000: up to five years in prison; or
  • More than $10,000: up to ten years in prison.

If there is a question about the value of the vehicle, your criminal defense lawyer can introduce expert testimony as to the actual value – it could make the difference between a potential 5 years in prison after trial or a maximum sentence of 30 days…

Grand Theft Auto in SC

Ok, there is no such thing as grand theft auto in SC, apart from the video game…

If you are accused of stealing a car in SC, it is treated the same as any other type of property theft, and you will be charged with either petit larceny or grand larceny depending on the value of the vehicle.

As with any larceny charges, the state will have to prove that you took the vehicle without permission and that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the vehicle.

Unlawful Use of Vehicle or Joyriding in SC

If someone “borrows” a vehicle without permission, but intends to return it, they can be charged with “joyriding,” or unlawful use of vehicle.

Joyriding carries a maximum sentence of three years under SC law, but if 1) the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle was temporary, and 2) the vehicle was not taken in connection with another crime (i.e. taking someone’s car as a getaway vehicle), the maximum penalty is only one year in prison.

SC Stolen Vehicle and Joyriding Defense Attorney in Charleston

Whether you have been charged with grand larceny, possession of a stolen vehicle, or “borrowing” a vehicle without permission, you may have valid defenses to the charges. If you have been charged with any offense related to stolen vehicles in SC, call Charleston criminal defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to find out how we can help.