It can be alarming to learn that you’ve purchased or received stolen goods or property, perhaps less so because of the concern for the original owner and more for the concern about your personal legal vulnerability. Typically, if you truly purchased stolen property unknowingly, the law can be understanding and will not place charges against you. However, it is recommended that you report the stolen property to law enforcement, which could result in a new legal headache.
You are only guilty of a crime if you knew you were purchasing stolen items. If you or your lawyer can prove your innocent intent, then you typically will not face any legal repercussions for possessing stolen property.
What Happens if You Knowingly Bought Stolen Property?
It is a crime in California to knowingly possess stolen property. Failure to notify law enforcement or locate the rightful owner of stolen property can result in you facing charges.
Prosecution may seek to establish that you should have suspected the property was stolen or done proper due diligence to ensure that the purchase was above board. Receiving stolen property is a “wobbler” offense in California, meaning that it could result in a misdemeanor or a felony charge depending on the circumstances and prerogative of the prosecutors.
What Are Potential Legal Penalties for Acquiring Stolen Property or Assets?
If you are charged with a misdemeanor for possessing stolen property, you could face a year of jail time, probation, and/or fines up to a thousand dollars. Felony possession of stolen property can result in sentencing that includes up to three years in jail, probation, and/or fines up to $10,000.
If you are not a legal US citizen, you could face severe immigration consequences. Possessing stolen property can be a deportable offense.
Additionally, California has notoriously strict gun laws. A conviction for stolen property could result in the loss of your rights to own or possess a firearm in the state.
What Are Possible Defenses if You Receive Stolen Property?
If you have knowingly or unknowingly come into possession of stolen property, it is highly recommended that you seek the legal guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Together, you and your lawyer can help build your defense.
Your attorney can help establish that you either had innocent intent in the purchase of the stolen goods or simply had no knowledge that the items were stolen. Your lawyer could also try to prove that you never came to ‘possess’ the property. The discovery of receipts or other elements that were a part of the sale could also go a long way to proving you meant to purchase the goods by legal means. Contact our law firm at 949-494-7011 for legal assistance today.