Visalia & Fresno Theft Crime Defense Attorney
California Penal Code section 496 defines the crime of receiving stolen property as “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”
To prove that a defendant is guilty of theft, the state must prove that:
- The defendant bought, received, sold, aided in selling, concealed or withheld from its owner, aided in concealing or withholding from its owner property that had been stolen or obtained by extortion
- When the defendant bought, received, sold, aided in selling, concealed or withheld from its owner, aided in concealing or withholding the property, he or she knew that the property had been stolen or obtained by extortion.
Under California Penal Code section code 496 receiving stolen property is punishable under “by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or as a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years.
However, if the district attorney or the grand jury determines that this action would be in the interests of justice, the district attorney or the grand jury, as the case may be, may, if the value of the property does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), specify in the accusatory pleading that the offense shall be a misdemeanor, punishable only by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year”
Additionally, the Penal code also provides that a person injured by an act of receiving stolen property may be entitled to civil damages against the offender for three times the amount of actual damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff, costs of suit, and reasonable attorney's fees.
Retailers also are considered under California receiving stolen property laws. A swap meet vendor, and every person whose principal business is dealing in, or collecting, merchandise or personal property and every agent, employee, or representative of that person, who buys or receives any property of value in excess of nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) that has been stolen or obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, under circumstances that should cause the person, agent, employee, or representative to make a reasonable inquiry to ascertain that the person from whom the property was bought or received had the legal right to sell or deliver it, without making a reasonable inquiry, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or as a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years.
Defenses to a first-degree burglary charge can rest on a number of strategies including challenging the intent element, which requires that the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew that the property had been stolen or obtained by extortion.
Given the high risk involved with a receiving stolen property charge, it is important to seek experienced counsel if you are the subject of an investigation or are detained by law enforcement.
Regardless of whether or not the case proceeds to trial, the seriousness of a California receiving stolen property charge requires the assistance of a skilled and committed California criminal lawyer who knows every legal argument when defending clients.