Contact Us for a Free Consultation (213) 542-0979

Receiving Stolen Property

California Penal Code Section 496(a) – Receiving Stolen Property

Over the last twenty-five years, I've handled many stolen property cases. Under Penal Code §496 in California, this particular theft crime charge is a wobbler, which 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 several different factors. One of the most significant factors is the value of whatever property the individual holds. Also, the person's prior criminal record is 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 – Are the consequences for a felony much harsher than for a misdemeanor? Our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending clients against 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 only sometimes easy to prove. Sometimes, people get property through various means and have no idea it's stolen. 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 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 create it and now you're taking possession of it – at that point, maybe you reasonably should know this is stolen property.

Short of something like that scenario, it becomes he said/she said as to whether or not somebody reasonably knows that property is stolen. What a jury will do if the case goes to a jury trial they're going to have to look at all the evidence and the circumstances and determine whether a reasonable person knows or reasonably should know that this property was stolen, and they look at the events.

These possessions of stolen property under Penal Code §496 cases 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 conclude, yeah, they should have known this property was stolen.

Legal Defenses for Receiving Stolen Property

One of the defenses, and probably the best defense, is – I had no idea the property was stolen, and no circumstances 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 some other property, and then they get mad at that person and suddenly try to revoke the consent. So, that gets into a battle as to whether or not the property is stolen or the person permitted him 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 the receipt of stolen property, these are not easy cases to prove, and sometimes, people need to have the property in their possession. It could be in a vehicle, but others could have put it 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. Please give me all the facts. Don't put a spin on it, and then I can get down to the nitty-gritty as to whether or not the prosecutors are going to be able to prove this case and whether it's a case that needs to go to a 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 saying listen, we're not putting any more people in prison who are stealing stuff.

We're not putting more people in prison who are using drugs. We're putting people in jail who are committing violent felonies. So, that shift has 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 for receiving stolen property. I can now get down to a misdemeanor just because of the change and political climate related to theft cases and accepting stolen property cases expressly.

So, you have a fighting chance if you have a receiving stolen property case in LA county. You have to get an attorney who knows the history, who's handled these types of cases before, and knows what it takes to get the result, knows what it takes to put a mitigation package together for the prosecutors and the judge, and show that you're not a wrong 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. Could you make the phone call now to get this case moving in the right direction?

Receiving Stolen Property Attorney in Los Angeles

Sometimes, a person can be unaware that the property they are receiving is stolen. If you are facing charges of receiving stolen property, we at the Hedding Law Firm can understand what happened and if you are 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 spending up to one year in county jail. The penalty for a misdemeanor conviction can also be increased if the defendant has prior theft convictions.

A felony conviction for receiving stolen property or aiding a thief could result in being sent to state 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 with your stolen property charge and fight for you.

Related Content: