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San Diego Receipt of Stolen Property Lawyer

With the growing popularity of resale websites such as eBay, and the fact that reputable sites such as Amazon are allowing third-party sellers to provide goods to customers, it seems that anyone can buy anything nowadays. Most of these buyers do not take the time to ask to see the original receipt, or even where the item came from. And that can land them in some pretty serious trouble.

According to California Penal Code 496, individuals found in possession of stolen property can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Either charge can result in fine, imprisonment, or both.

But what happens when the recipient is not aware that the goods were stolen? That matter becomes a bit more complicated.

Burden of Proof with Stolen Property

The burden of proof, or the obligation of finding and presenting evidence that proves a case, lies with the police in cases of stolen property. They must be able to prove that the property was stolen, that the individual in question received the property, and that the individual knew the property was stolen. Without all three of these conditions being met, there is no crime and a criminal defense attorney can help get the case thrown out of court.

But anyone can say that they simply did not know that the item was stolen, and many do. In order to separate fact from fiction, there are some factors the police will take into consideration.

  • Did the individual help conceal the property? For instance, if someone purchased a car and kept it in his friend’s garage instead of his own, that may indicate that he knew it was stolen and wanted to ensure it was not on his own property in the case of an investigation.
  • Was the property priced much lower than it is worth? The price the recipient paid for the property will also be assessed; if that price was much lower than the fair market value of the item, it may indicate that the recipient knew it was stolen. If the payment given was cash and there was no receipt provided, that may also act as proof that the recipient knew the goods were stolen.
  • Were identifying marks removed? If identifying marks, such as a VIN on a vehicle, have been removed, that is often all the police need to prove that the recipient did in fact know that an item was stolen. But that does not mean that the recipient will automatically be found guilty.

Defenses to a Stolen Property Charge

There are two main legal defenses to being found in possession of stolen property, even if the police are saying that you knew it was stolen. Those are mistake of fact, and right to possess the item. These two defenses can be used to prove that the recipient did not have any reason to believe the item was stolen, or that the item in question already belonged to the recipient. This latter defense would be used if someone left stolen property in one’s car and the owner of the car was not aware of it.

Being charged with possession of stolen property is a crime that can hold very serious consequences in California. If you have been charged with such a crime, contact a San Diego theft defense lawyer that knows the legal system in San Diego - call JD Law.

Founding attorney James N. Dicks is a California State Bar-certified criminal defense specialist, and a former investigator with the LAPD. Call today at (760) 630-2000 so he can begin reviewing your case with you. Your initial consultation is free.

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James N. Dicks

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