Are you being investigated or facing criminal charges for receiving stolen property? If so, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles with a proven track record of success. Ambrosio Rodriguez is a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience handling all criminal law matters. Contact him today for immediate legal assistance and a free consultation.
Receiving stolen property is a serious crime, and the prosecution will not hesitate to pursue the harshest possible penalties. If you are convicted for receiving stolen property you will face up to three years in a California state prison, $10,000 in criminal fines, and a future burdened with a criminal record.
- 1 Receiving Stolen Property Laws in California
- 2 Penalties for Receiving Stolen Property
- 3 Defending Charges of Receiving Stolen Property
- 4 Experienced Los Angeles Receiving Stolen Property Attorneys
Receiving Stolen Property Laws in California
In California, it is a crime to knowingly buy, sell, or simply possess property that you know has been obtained illegally. The crime of receiving stolen property, as defined in Penal Code 496 PC, occurs when you:
- Buy or receive property that you know has been stolen or obtained through extortion;
- Conceal, sell, or withhold property that you know has been stolen or obtained through extortion; or
- Aid in concealing, selling, or withholding property from the owner that you know has been stolen or obtained through extortion.
Penal Code 496 PC covers a wide range of possible criminal behaviors, from actually purchasing stolen property to simply helping someone conceal stolen property.
In order to convict you under 496 PC the prosecution will have to establish each element of the crime. In a case for receiving stolen property they will have to prove:
- The property you received was obtained illegally;
- You knew or should have known the property was illegally obtained; and
- You actually received the property.
Property Obtained Illegally
In order to be convicted under Penal Code 496 PC the property that you receive must have been stolen or obtained using extortion. Property is considered to be stolen if “it was obtained by any type of theft, burglary, or robbery.” This can include theft by larceny, theft by trick, theft by embezzlement, and theft by fraud.
Property that is obtained by means of extortion will also trigger criminal liability under Penal Code 496 PC. Extortion means that a property owner consented to give up property, but only did so because they were under the threat of force or fear.
Knowledge of Stolen Property
In most situations, you must also have knowledge that the property you buy, sell, or possess is stolen. You must also have knowledge that you possess the stolen property. There is an exception to this knowledge requirement under 496(b) PC if you operate a business whose primary conduct is dealing, collecting, or trading property.
If you are a swap meet vendor, junk dealer, second-hand shop, antique store, or other property trader/dealer you may be criminally liable for receiving stolen property if you do not use due diligence to check out the property you buy and sell. In most cases, if you receive property under suspicious circumstances and fail to make a reasonable inquiry into the property’s legal ownership, you may face criminal charges if that property turns out to be stolen.
Receiving Stolen Property
The prosecution must also prove that you received the stolen property. This does not necessarily mean that you must have physical control or possession of the property. Instead, you will be considered to have received the stolen property if you have the authority to exercise possession and control.
Penalties for Receiving Stolen Property
Receiving stolen property, as defined in Penal Code 496 PC, can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The charge that is filed against you will depend on (1) the value of the stolen property, (2) the extent of damage suffered by the victims, and (3) your criminal history.
Receiving stolen property valued at less than $950 is generally a misdemeanor offense, punishable by one year in a Los Angeles County jail and/or $1,000 in fines. Receiving stolen property in excess of $950 is generally a felony offense, punishable by a maximum of three years in a California State prison and/or $10,000 in fines.
The victim of your crime may also be entitled to recover monetary damages for the harms they suffered because of your conduct. In some cases, you may be required to pay the victim three times the damages they suffer and compensate them for any attorney’s fees they have.
In addition to jail time, fines, and restitution you may also suffer certain civil and social consequences for your crime. These are known as collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. These are not directly linked to your specific crime. Instead, these consequences exist simply because you have been convicted of a crime. Collateral consequences of a conviction for receiving stolen property could include:
- Inability to secure employment in certain fields (e.g., education, healthcare, government);
- Revocation or suspension of professional licenses;
- Loss of gun ownership rights; and
- Prohibited from serving in the military.
In addition to criminal charges, you may be named as the defendant in a civil theft lawsuit, as well. The plaintiff (victim in your case) may be able to use your criminal conviction as evidence in a civil suit.
Defending Charges of Receiving Stolen Property
When you are charged with a crime in Los Angeles you have the right to assert any defense that can explain, excuse, and/or justify your alleged behavior. These defenses, when argued properly, can make it extremely difficult for the prosecution to satisfy their burden of proof. When this happens, prosecutors will be eager to discuss a plea bargain with your attorney. Your attorney can use this situation to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. Defenses that may be helpful in your criminal case for receiving stolen property include:
- Lack of intent;
- Lack of knowledge;
- Mistaken belief of ownership;
- False accusation;
- Mistaken identity;
- Unlawful search and seizure; and/or
- Illegal arrest.
If the police discovered stolen property in your possession during an unlawful search or illegal arrest we will petition the court to have the tainted evidence thrown out of your case. The state may not benefit from breaking the law and violating your rights. When tainted evidence is thrown out the prosecution will have a difficult time proving their case.
Experienced Los Angeles Receiving Stolen Property Attorneys
Are you facing criminal charges for receiving stolen property in Los Angeles? Hiring an attorney to defend you will increase your chances of success, so do not hesitate to contact The Rodriguez Law Group for help. We know that a conviction would be devastating for you and your family, and we will fight to minimize the consequences of your arrest. Call our Los Angeles receiving stolen property defense attorneys today for more information about how we can help you with your criminal case. During your free consultation, we will review your case, determine if your rights have been violated, and answer the questions you have.