What is Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent?
In South Carolina, Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent —also just called Breach of Trust— is a form of property theft involving trust. Breach of Trust is nearly identical to larceny. The defining characteristic between larceny and Breach of Trust is the element of lawful acquisition by the person charged with Breach of Trust.
Three distinct qualities determine this charge:
- The original owner of the property willfully and lawfully let the defendant have or borrow the property, with the expectation of getting the property back or having the defendant steward it in accordance with the owner’s interests. The owner entrusted the defendant.
- The defendant must take and/or use that entrusted property for selfish purposes without the owner’s permission.
- The defendant takes the property with the intention of removing it from the owner’s possession.
Someone can be charged with Breach of Trust if they ask somebody else to commit this crime for them.
Can I go to jail for Breach of Trust?
Because this crime has three levels of severity, it is possible that a defendant could face jail time if convicted of Breach of Trust. However, there are arguments to be made for each case, and some crimes are penalized only with fines.
Here are the three levels of charges and penalties for Breach of Trust:
- Misdemeanor charge. Breach of Trust is a misdemeanor when the stolen property is worth up to $2000. Someone convicted at this level can face a fine of up to $1000 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days.
- Felony charge. Breach of Trust as a felony applies when the stolen property is worth between $2000 and $10000. Someone convicted at this level can face a fine and a jail sentence of up to 5 years, both determined by the court.
- Felony Charge. Breach of Trust is also a felony conviction when the stolen property is worth $10000 or more. Someone convicted at this level can face a fine and a jail sentence of up to 10 years: the exact amounts of each are determined by the court.
Example of Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent
Examples of Breach of Trust with fraudulent intent appear across our lives due to the element of trust. If you ask your child to get you milk and eggs from the store, but they actually use some of the money to buy candy: that’s Breach of Trust. However, embezzlement of money is just one example of Breach of Trust.
Breach of Trust can also be the conversion of property. Let’s say that Tom entrusts five cows to Jerry with the understanding that the cows still belong to Tom. Even though he knows the cows belong to Tom, Jerry takes them to a slaughterhouse. He turns them to beef and then sells the meat. Jerry keeps the money and does not pay back Tom. Jerry has committed a breach of trust with fraudulent intent.
There are different ways to commit Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent. S.C. Code § 16-13-230 defines it this way:
- (A) A person committing a breach of trust with a fraudulent intention or a person who hires or counsels another person to commit a breach of trust with a fraudulent intention is guilty of larceny.
- (B) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a:
- (1) misdemeanor triable in magistrates court or municipal court, notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 22-3-540, 22-3-545, 22-3-550, and 14-25-65, if the amount is two thousand dollars or less. Upon conviction, the person must be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than thirty days;
- (2) felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than five years if the amount is more than two thousand dollars but less than ten thousand dollars;
- (3) felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years if the amount is ten thousand dollars or more.
While that might be difficult to understand, a lawyer can clear up any confusion and answer any questions.
Who should I call if I’ve been charged with Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent?
If you’ve been charged with Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent, you’ll need a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact a criminal defense attorney who can help you make the right decisions on your case. Choose someone with Breach of Trust defense experience.
If you’re looking for a Breach of Trust lawyer in Lexington or South Carolina, choose someone who knows the court system in South Carolina. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you face these charges.
Judah VanSyckel is a Lexington lawyer with experience defending Breach of Trust charges. Contact our offices to set up a free consultation.