In California it is against the law to receive stolen property, prohibited under Penal Code 496 PC. It is considered a crime to buy, sell, receive, conceal, or withhold property which you understand to be stolen. In receiving stolen property cases typically the person who committed the theft will be charged with a theft offense while the person who received the stolen goods will likely be charged under Penal Code 496 PC.
A charge of receiving stolen property means that you knowingly bought, sold, received, concealed, or withheld stolen goods after the theft occurred. This means that if you knowingly received stolen property from the thief you may be held liable for the offense.
According to California Penal Code Section 496 (a):
“Every person who buys or receives any property that has been stolen or that has been obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, or who conceals, sells, withholds, or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding any property from the owner, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, shall be punished by imprisonment in a state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year.”
Common Stolen Items
Many items top the list for being commonly stolen and sold, often times to unsuspecting buyers. These items include:
- Construction equipment
- Music equipment
- Used cars
Even if you have been arrested or are being prosecuted for receiving stolen property it does not necessarily mean that you have to be convicted. If you were wrongly arrested, falsely accused, or did not know the items were stolen a criminal defense attorney may be able to have the charge reduced or dismissed altogether.
In order to be convicted of receiving stolen property the prosecutor must prove that the property was stolen, that you received the stolen property, and that you knew the property was stolen when you received it, or intended to assist the thief by buying or holding the stolen property.
Property is considered stolen if it was obtained by:
- Petty theft
- Grand theft
If at the time you received the stolen property you suspected that it was stolen, or later learned that it was stolen, you should immediately contact the owner of the property or the police to help avoid prosecution.
Receiving stolen property is known as a “wobbler” offense meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case. Factors include previous criminal record, age, education, the value of the stolen item, and employment history. If you are convicted you could face jail time, prison time, and fines.