Did you know that you can be charged with a crime for simply receiving stolen property? In California, it is a criminal offense to knowingly receive or possess property that you know (or should know) is stolen. A conviction for a crime of theft in San Diego will change your life forever, so it is important to speak with an attorney if you are facing criminal charges. For more than 16 years, San Diego criminal defense attorney Vikas Bajaj has handled thousands of criminal cases, including those for receiving stolen property. He knows that your future is at stake and will do everything in his power to get the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj today to set up a free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best line of defense, and explain your legal rights.
Receiving Stolen Property
In California, you can face criminal charges for receiving stolen property, as defined in Penal Code 496 PC, if you buy, receive, sell, conceal, or withhold property that you know has been stolen. In order to convict you of this crime, the prosecution must be able to establish:
- The property you purchase/receive/sell is stolen; and
- You had knowledge that the property was stolen or obtained by extortion.
When will you be considered to have received stolen property? You will be considered to have received stolen property when you have the authority to exercise possession and control. This does not mean that you must have physical possession of the stolen property. As long as you have the authority to control and/or possess the property, you will be considered to have received that stolen property.
In San Diego, more than two people can legally possess stolen property at the same time. The fact that stolen property also belongs to someone else does not reduce your criminal liability.
When will property, for the purposes of Penal Code 496 PC, be considered stolen? Any property that is unlawfully transferred from its rightful owner to another person will be defined as stolen. Specifically, property will be considered stolen if “it was obtained by any type of theft, burglary, or robbery.” Crimes of theft include larceny, trick, embezzlement, or fraud.
Obtained by Extortion
You can also face criminal charges for receiving property that is obtained using extortion. Property will be considered to be obtained by extortion if:
- A property owner consented to give up property; and
- This consent was only given because the property owner was under the threat of force or fear.
Helping Others Receive Stolen Property
You can also face criminal charges if you help another person to receive stolen property. Penal Code 496 PC also applies when you “aid in concealing, selling, or withholding any property from the owner.” For example, let’s say a friend of your commits a burglary and successfully steals an expensive necklace. Your friend, believing that they will be questioned by the police, asks you to hang onto the necklace until the police are no longer interested. You could face criminal charges under 496 PC for helping your friend to conceal stolen property.
Business Owners Receiving Stolen Property
In San Diego, certain business owners or merchants whose business involves dealing in or collecting merchandise can face criminal charges for receiving stolen property even if they were not aware that the property was stolen. Under Penal Code 496(b) PC, certain people can be criminally liable for receiving stolen property if they:
- Acquire property under suspicious circumstances, and
- Fail to make a reasonable inquiry into the true ownership of that property.
Penalties for Receiving Stolen Property
Under Penal Code 496 PC, receiving stolen property can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The severity of the charge in your case will depend on the value of the stolen property and your prior criminal history. In most cases, if the value of the stolen property exceeds $950 you can face felony charges.
Misdemeanor Receiving Stolen Property. If you are charged with misdemeanor receiving stolen property, the maximum criminal penalty that can be imposed is one year in a San Diego County jail and/or $1,000 in fines.
Felony Receiving Stolen Property. If you are charged with felony receiving stolen property, the maximum criminal penalty that can be imposed is three years in a California state prison and/or $10,000 in fines.
In either case, if the stolen property was not recovered, or if it was destroyed, you may be required to reimburse the victim for up to three times the value of the damages they sustained because of your actions.
Defending Charges for Receiving Stolen Property
If you are facing criminal charges for receiving stolen property in San Diego you have the right to argue any defense that may excuse, explain, or justify your alleged behavior. When a legal defense is argued correctly the prosecution will have a difficult time building a strong case against you. Your attorney will use this to negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. Defenses that may be helpful in your case for receiving stolen property include:
- You did not know that the property was stolen;
- You actually owned the property in question;
- You mistakenly believed you owned the property in question; or
- You have been falsely accused or mistakenly identified.
San Diego Receiving Stolen Property Criminal Defense Attorney
Have you been arrested for receiving stolen property in San Diego? Do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC today for help. Our San Diego criminal defense attorneys have nearly two decades of legal experience and have successfully handled thousands of criminal matters. We know that a conviction would be devastating for you and your family, so we will do everything in our power to make sure that we secure the best possible outcome in your case. Call our San Diego office today to set up your free consultation. We will review the charges against you, explain your legal rights, and answer any questions you have.