California Penal Code Section 496(a) – Receiving Stolen Property
Over the course of the last twenty-five years, I've handled a lot of stolen property cases. This particular theft crime charge, pursuant to Penal Code §496 in California is a wobbler, which basically means it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
The dividing line on whether it will be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor typically depends on a number of different factors. One of the biggest factors is the value of whatever property it is that the individuals is holding. Also, the person's prior criminal record is definitely a factor the prosecutor and judge will consider.
So, when it comes to receiving stolen property, I guess the first thing is – is it charged as a felony or a misdemeanor – is obviously the consequences for a felony are much harsher than for a misdemeanor. Our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending clients against all types of theft related cases.
Evidence In A Receiving Stolen Property Case
One of the biggest things in receiving stolen property cases in LA County and throughout California is whether the person who has the property knew or reasonably should have known under the circumstances that the property was stolen.
This is not always easy to prove. Sometimes people get property through various means and they have no idea that it's stolen, and therefore, they've got an argument – whether it was stolen or not, I got the property, I paid for it, I traded for it and there's nothing on the property that is indicative of it being stolen – so how would I know?
Unless somebody admits that they have property and they know that it's stolen, or unless there's some other factor that makes it real clear that it's stolen property – for example, somebody gets a vehicle and the ignition is punched out and there's a screwdriver in there to start it – that might be an idea that somebody stole it because they broke in and had to use a screwdriver to start it and now you're taking possession of it – at that point, maybe you reasonably should know this is a stolen property.
Short of something like that scenario really kind of becomes a he said/she said as to whether or not somebody reasonably knows that property is stolen, and what a jury will do if the case goes to jury trial, they're going to have to look at all the evidence and the circumstances and determine would a reasonable person know or reasonably should know that this property was stolen, and they look at the circumstances.
These possessions of stolen property pursuant to Penal Code §496 cases really hinge upon circumstantial evidence – meaning a chain of evidence the prosecutors are going to have to put together – that once you look at it all, you're going to have to draw the conclusion yeah, they should have known this property was stolen.
Legal Defenses for Receiving Stolen Property
Obviously one of the defenses and probably the best defense is – I had no idea the property was stolen and there are no circumstances that show me it was stolen. Another defense would be the property is not stolen.
Who says the property is stolen? What proof do you have that the property is stolen? I've had cases like that all the time that we've been able to argue that there's no proof the property has been stolen.
Sometimes somebody gives permission to another person to take a car or take some other property and then they get mad at that person and all of a sudden they try to revoke the permission. So, that gets into a battle as to whether or not the property is really stolen, or the person gave him permission to take the property back.
Just because they revoke permission doesn't necessarily mean that all of a sudden it makes it stolen property for purposes of Penal Code §496.
So, the bottom line is when it comes to receipt of stolen property, these are not easy cases to prove and sometimes the people don't have the property in their possession. Maybe it's in a vehicle, but other people could have put it in there. There are all sorts of different arguments.
That's why we have you come in and sit down and we go over everything under the cloak of the attorney-client privilege. I encourage you to be honest. Give me all the facts. Don't put a spin on it and then I can really get down to the nitty-gritty as to whether or not the prosecutors are going to be able to prove this case or not, and whether it's a case that needs to go to jury trial or whether it's a case that needs to be negotiated and mitigated down to something less.
How Are Possession Of Stolen Property Cases Handled?
Fortunately, today, with the passage of Proposition 47 in California, and a total shift related to theft-related offenses – mainly centered around the Governor of California basically saying listen, we're not putting any more people in prison who are stealing stuff.
We're not putting any more people in prison and who are using drugs. We're putting people in prison who are committing violent felonies. So, that shift has really caused the police not to arrest as many people for receiving stolen property and the prosecutors have even had to take a less harsh position on these receiving stolen property cases.
I've had cases where people had to plead to a felony receiving stolen property that I'm now able to get down to a misdemeanor just because of the whole change and political climate as it relates to theft cases and receiving stolen property cases specifically.
So, if you have a receiving stolen property casein LA county, you have a fighting chance. You just have to get an attorney who knows the history, who's handled these type of cases before and knows what it takes to get the result; knows that it takes to put a mitigation package together for the prosecutors and the judge and show that you're not a bad person; show that you shouldn't have to get any jail time and try to set things up to get a misdemeanor, preserve your record and get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible. Make the phone call now so we can get this case moving in the right direction.
Receiving Stolen Property Attorney in Los Angeles
Sometimes a person can be unaware that the property he or she is receiving is stolen. If you are facing charges of receiving stolen property and we at the Hedding Law Firm can really get to the bottom of what happened and if you are actually guilty of the alleged crime.
A person is found guilty of the crime of receiving stolen property if that person buys or possesses property that has been stolen.
The prosecution must prove three elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to establish that a defendant is guilty:
1. That the defendant knowingly received
2. That the property was stolen
3. That the defendant either knew that the property had been stolen or believed that it had probably been stolen at the time he received the property
A misdemeanor conviction, for property valued at under $400, is punishable by paying a fine and/or spending up to one year in county jail. The penalty for a misdemeanor conviction can also be increased if the defendant has any prior theft convictions.
A felony conviction for receiving stolen property or aiding a thief could result in being sent to state prison or county jail for up to 3 years. The prison term is based on the severity of the crime- the value of the stolen property and the defendant's prior criminal record.
If you have been charged with this theft crime, call our receiving stolen property Lawyers so that we can get on your case.
We have the skill and expertise to help you get you with your receiving stolen property charge and fight on your behalf.