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What is Breach of Trust With Fraudulent Intent in South Carolina?

Breach of trust with fraudulent intent occurs when one person is entrusted with another person’s money or property, but intentionally converts those assets to their own personal use or benefit. The act is commonly known as embezzlement in other states and is considered criminal offense in South Carolina.

This form of white collar crime can be committed in many ways. Examples that have been reported in South Carolina over the past few years include:

  • A Clarendon County woman who stole her employer’s checkbook and wrote checks to herself
  • A Rock Hill lawyer who kept more than $166,000 that his client handed over to him during a real estate closing to pay off the balance on a mortgage
  • A Myrtle Beach rental company owner who deposited rental payments into his personal account and failed to pay property owners
  • Summerville gym owners who lost $2,400 when a woman sold them gym equipment over Facebook Marketplace but never delivered the product

Punishments for breach of trust with fraudulent intent depend on the value of property diverted from its rightful owner. They range from five years in prison for thefts of more than $2,000 to 10 years in prison if $10,000 or more is stolen. Thefts of $2,000 or less are prosecuted as misdemeanors, with a maximum of 30 days in jail.

In addition to possible prison time and serious fines, a conviction of breach of trust with fraudulent intent could impugn your personal reputation or that of your business. If you find yourself up against claims that you improperly used another person’s money or property, it is wise to consult an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney.

There are several defenses available. Defendants may demonstrate that:

  • the property rightfully belonged to them, or they so believed
  • the property owner authorized them to take and sell the property
  • there was no intent to steal from or defraud the other person

A defendant may also argue that no trust relationship existed, and therefore breach of trust could not have occurred. In some cases, charges are unfairly brought for financial disputes that should be handled in civil court rather than criminal court.

Criminal defender Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law develops strong strategies to fight charges of breach of trust with fraudulent intent. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Mr. Swerling is well-versed in South Carolina’s laws concerning criminal fraud and white collar crime. To schedule a free initial consultation with Mr. Swerling, call 800-701-0599 or contact us online.

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Jack Swerling In The News >>

  • Jack Swerling, Derrick Mobley and Alissa Wilson were successful in having a Judge rule after an extensive hearing, that the defendant was immune from prosecution based on the “Stand Your Ground” law in a murder prosecution. The Judgment was handed down on March 29, 2021.
  • Jack Swerling, Gregory Harris and Alissa Wilson obtained a Not Guilty Verdict in Lexington County on March 3, 2022. An Orthopedic Surgeon was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of a friend.
  • “When Jack is on my docket, I tell my law clerks, ‘You do not want to miss this. You are seeing one of the greatest trial lawyers in the state’s history.'” -South Carolina Circuit Court Judge
  • Jack was selected to Super Lawyers Magazine Top Ten List for 2019. Each year Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in South Carolina via a selection process involving peer evaluations, independent research and professional achievement. The South Carolina lawyers who receive the highest points during this selection process are further recognized in the South Carolina Super Lawyers Top Ten List.
  • USA v. FRANK*: In a child pornography case, Swerling was successful in obtaining a 22 level variance reducing the defendant’s sentence from 8 years to 6 months.
  • STATE v. BORIS: The defendant was found not guilty by reason of insanity in a case where the defendant was involved in a shoot-out with 3 police officers.
  • STATE v. TYGER: Jack Swerling obtains a not guilty verdict in a criminal sexual conduct case in Beaufort County.
  • Pre Trial Dispositions: STATE v. DWAYNE: Mr. Swerling successfully argued for the dismissal of stalking and unlawful use of telephone charges brought against a prominent businessman in Florence County.
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