Receiving Stolen Property

Actual Case:

Tony was a care-taker for an elderly gentleman who lived on a large rural property.  The elder asked Tony if Tony would sell some of the items the gentleman had collected over his many years so that the elder could gain funds for refurbishing the property.  Tony sold some of the items, had some of the items still in his possession, and gave the proceeds of the sale to the complaining witness after taking out the fee that the elder had promised Tony.  Later, since he was suffering from memory loss, the elder forgot that he had given Tony the property and made accusations of theft and receiving stolen property.  After doing extensive investigation and uncovering a number of witnesses who the elder had either swindled or falsely accused of theft and presenting the evidence to the district attorney I was able to convince the D.A. to dismiss the charges against Tony.   Tony was incredibly relieved to have the charges dismissed.

Law:

The California law against receiving stolen property is California Penal Code section 496.  It states that it is a crime to buy, sell, conceal and/or receive goods known to be stolen. 

Individuals as well as certain businesses can be charged with receiving stolen property.  The requisite standard of culpability is however lower for businesses, in that a private party must have known or believed that the property was stolen whereas for businesses the prosecution need only prove that a reasonable person in those circumstances would have been suspicious that the property was stolen and subsequently failed to look into it.

Penalties:

In many cases the potential penalties faced for receiving stolen property are the same as the actual stealing of the property in the first place.  If the item or items involved are cumulatively less than $950 one can only be charged with a misdemeanor.  If item or items are worth more than $950, the defendant can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances involved and the criminal history of the defendant.

Misdemeanor: up to a year in the county jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.

Felony: 16 months, two years or three years in the county jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine.  Note that under the re-alignment act passed in 2015, the even a ‘prison” sentence must be served in the county jail rather than state prison. 

Defenses:

  1. Defendant did not know that the property had been stolen.
  2. Defendant did not know he was in possession of the stolen property.
  3. Defendant intended to return the property upon receiving it.
  4. Claim of right to possession. The defendant believed that he had a legitimate right to the property.

Contact Us To Help:

If you are charged with having received stolen property you should definitely consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is important to hire an attorney for something as serious as a criminal offense.  David Foos has over thirty years of experience helping people accused of these crimes. Because of his many years of experience and long standing relationships with the district attorneys in the area, Mr. Foos can often obtain a reduced penalty, a decreased charge, or even get the case dismissed.  Please contact Mr. Foos for a free consultation at 916-779-3500 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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