Unfortunately, in the state of California, you can be arrested and charged with a crime for possessing stolen property even if you played no role in actually stealing the item. This is a serious crime that can be charged as a felony and carries up to three years in state prison. Receiving stolen property under California Penal Code 496 criminalizes the following actions:
- Buying stolen property from another
- Receiving stolen property from another
- Possessing stolen property
- Hiding stolen property
- Reselling stolen property
- Helping another do any of the above
In order to be convicted of receiving stolen property under 496 PC, you either must have known or reasonably should have known that the property was stolen.
The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the item was stolen, (2) you bought, received, possessed, hid, resold, or aided another in the reselling or concealment of stolen property, and (3) you either knew or should have known that the item was stolen.
Often times, you can defend against receiving stolen property charges by showing that the prosecutor has failed to prove one of the above elements. For example:
- The stolen item was hidden on your property, and you were unaware of its existence.
- Your friend lied and said that the property belonged to him and that he wanted to give it to you.
- You purchased the item off of Craigslist and had no reason to believe it didn’t belong to the purported owner.
- You run a pawn shop and, after inspecting the device and running a search through your records, reasonably believe it was not stolen.
- The person you received or bought the item from was in legal possession and ownership of the item.
- The item had been abandoned.
Other defenses include:
- Mistaken identity
- You intended to turn the property over to the police or original owner
- You accidentally picked up the stolen property
- You lacked the ability to understand the consequences of your actions due to a mental disorder or intoxication
Receiving stolen property under Penal Code 496 can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines if:
- The value of the stolen item is equal to or less than $950
- The defendant does not have prior convictions for serious or violent felonies
- The defendant is not on the sex offender registry
If the value of the items is greater than $950, receiving stolen property becomes a felony punishable by up to either sixteen months, two years, or three years in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
Seek Justice with Criminal Defense Incorporated
If you were accused of receiving stolen property in southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties), do not proceed with your case without consulting an aggressive and skilled Southern California criminal defense lawyer. The Los Angeles theft defense attorneys at Criminal Defense Incorporated have the knowledge and experience to help you fight the charges. Call us at (800) 458-1488 today to discuss your arrest.