Possession of Stolen Property
Under California law, it is illegal to buy, sell, possess, hide or withhold any item or property which is stolen or is known to have been obtained by fraud or deceit. The consequences of a conviction can be severe depending on the circumstances of the case and the value of the property. However, remember that just because you have been accused of possessing stolen property, you may not necessarily be convicted. A number of these charges may stem from shoddy police work, a misunderstanding or false information. There are a number of cases where defendants do not know that the items they have in their possession are stolen. Regardless of what the circumstances of your case are, it is important that you contact an experienced Santa Clarita theft lawyer who will help get your charges dismissed or reduced.
The Law Relating to Possession of Stolen Property
According to California Penal Code Section 496 (a): "Every person who buys or receives any property that has been stolen or that has been obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, or who conceals, sells, withholds, or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding any property from the owner, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, shall be punished by imprisonment in a state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year."
The same section states that if a prosecutor or jury determines that the value of the property does not exceed $950, the offense shall be treated as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail.
Defending the Charges
In order to prove that the defendant is in possession of stolen property, the prosecution must present evidence to prove that:
- The property was stolen
- The defendant received the stolen property in question
- The defendant knew that the property was "stolen," such as through theft, burglary, robbery, fraud or embezzlement.
"Receiving" or possessing the property means physically possessing the property. However, you can be guilty of possessing the stolen property as long as you have possession and control of it. For example, although you may not be wearing a stolen piece of jewelry, if it is in your home, you still possess it.
There are several defenses an experienced Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer can present including what is known as "mistake of fact." For example, if you did not know that you were actually buying stolen property, you cannot be convicted of possessing stolen property. Also, if you did not know that you were in possession of the property, then you may not be convicted. An example is a situation where someone places the property in your home or vehicle without your knowledge. A third scenario where you cannot be convicted is if your intent was to return the property to its rightful owner or law enforcement but did not get around to doing so.
If you or a loved one has been accused of receiving or possessing stolen property, please contact experienced Santa Clarita criminal defense attorney Daniel E. Kann. We will provide you with all the information and resources you require to make an informed decision about your case. A knowledgeable defense attorney can make all the difference in your case. Call us today to schedule your free consultation and comprehensive case assessment.