Receiving Stolen Property
Being charged with receiving stolen property comes as a shock to many, especially if they weren't aware that they had any stolen property in their home or car. If you've been charged with this crime, read on to see what a California criminal defense attorney can do to help and what to expect during the trial.
What is Receiving Stolen Property?
In California and most other states, you can still get in trouble if you receive stolen property and don't behave appropriately. According to California Penal Code 496, receiving stolen property occurs when:
- A defendant receives, buys, sells, conceals, or aids in buying and selling property that had been stolen or obtained by extortion AND
- The defendant knew the property was stolen at the time of the above activities AND
- The defendant knew about the presence of the property
The last aspect protects you if you didn't know that stolen property was, for instance, in a bag that you received from another person and then stored in your car. In every step of the process, intent and foreknowledge must be proven by the prosecution for you to be convicted of this crime. A California defense attorney can help you avoid conviction by emphasizing these points.
According to California law, property is obtained by extortion if the goods were obtained through the use of force or fear and without the original property owner's consent.
What Possible Penalties Exist?
This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony as it is a “wobbler” offense. It's charged as a misdemeanor if the property was worth less than $950, while it's charged as a felony if the property was worth more than $950.
Misdemeanor offenses can carry penalties like:
- Misdemeanor probation
- A maximum fine of up to $1000
- Time in county jail for up to one year
Felony offenses can carry penalties like:
- Maximum fines of up to $10,000
- Felony probation
- Imprisonment in county jail for up to three years
Defenses to Charges of Receiving Stolen Property
A California defense attorney can present multiple defense avenues to help you avoid a conviction for this crime.
There Was No Intent to Receive Stolen Property
For starters, the defense counsel can prove that you didn't intend to take possession of any stolen property. This can be proven either by one of the two below defenses or because of other factors – for instance, maybe you didn't want to take possession of stolen property but the real thief tossed it into your car just before the police saw you.
You Didn't Know the Property Was Stolen
Alternatively, a defense counsel can show that you weren't aware that the property was stolen at the time of taking possession of it. Remember, knowledge of the property's stolen nature must be proven by the prosecution for you to be shown guilty of this crime. Ignorance as to property's stolen nature protects you from conviction.
Defendant Didn't Receive Stolen Items
Lastly, your defense attorney can show that you didn't actually receive the property according to the legal definition of the word. Legally speaking, you only “receive” something if you possess it or have control over it. Simply having something in your home does not necessarily mean you have control over it, for example.
Why You Need a California Criminal Defense Attorney
In any criminal defense case, time is of the essence, and you need someone with extensive legal expertise on your side to maximize your chances of avoiding a conviction. The law offices of Peter James Chambers are at your disposal as soon as you give us a call. We can start with a free consultation so we can help you get back to your life.