Prosecution For Receiving Stolen Property
To help you become more familiar with receiving stolen property charges in California, the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want to share with you what the prosecution needs to prove in order to convict you under California PC 496
Stolen Property Under PC 496
California Penal Code 496 makes it illegal to buy or receive any property you know has been stolen OR to conceal, sell, or withhold any property from the owner knowing the property to be stolen. In order to convict you of receiving stolen property, the prosecution must prove the following:
- You (bought/received/sold/aided in selling/concealed or withheld from its
owner/aided in concealing or withholding from its owner) property that has been stolen or obtained by extortion AND
- When you (bought/received/sold/aided in selling/concealed or withheld from its owner/aided in concealing or withholding from its owner) you knew or reasonably should have known that the property had been stolen or obtained by extortion AND
- You actually knew of the presence of the property
Stolen or Obtained by Extortion
In cases involving receiving stolen property, property is considered “stolen” for purposes of this offense if it was obtained by any type of theft, burglary or robbery. Theft includes obtaining property by larceny, embezzlement, false pretense, or trick. In order for the property to be considered stolen, the person who took the property must have intended to permanently deprive the owner of it s use.
Property is obtained by extortion if:
- The property was obtained from another person with that person’s consent, and
- That person’s consent was obtained through the use of force or fear.
For example: Dan stops by a local car dealership and drops off a note stating that he will blow up the building unless a brand new car is delivered to a specified location for him to pick up. The bank delivers the car to the location with the keys in the ignition and Dan drives off with the car. He then sells you the car for half of its market value.
Since Dan used the threat of force in order to obtain the car, and the car dealership gave him the car with its consent, the property has been obtained by extortion and you can be charged with receiving stolen property.
To receive property means to take possession of stolen goods. You do not actually have to hold or touch the property in order to possess it so long as you have control or the right to control it. However, merely being present or near the stolen property is not sufficient to constitute possession and control.
For example: You buy a stolen watch at a pawn broker and wear it every day to work. Since the property is located on your person and you have the right to control it, you will be found to have received the stolen property. Even if you let your friend borrow the watch, you still have the right to control the property and it is considered in your constructive possession. Your friend, who has actual possession of the watch, can also be charged with receiving stolen property because you both have joint control over the property.
Knowledge that Property was Stolen
In order to convict you of receiving stolen property under PC 496, the prosecution must show that you knew or reasonably should have known that the property was stolen. Proving that you actually knew the property was stolen is difficult because direct evidence of this knowledge (such as a confession or admission) is typically unavailable. Therefore, the prosecution will likely rely on the use of circumstantial evidence to show that you knew or reasonably should have known of the property’s stolen status at the time you obtained it.
The prosecution can satisfy this element by showing that you should have known the property was stolen based on the circumstances surrounding how you acquired it. Therefore if you obtain property at a price significantly lower than its market value (a deal that seems too good to be true) or from a person whom you knew was thief, the prosecution can argue that a reasonable person would have known that the property was stolen.
Dual Convictions are Prohibited
If you are found to be in possession of stolen property, the prosecution can charge you with both theft and receiving stolen property charges depending upon the circumstances of your case. However, these two offenses are mutually exclusive and you can only be convicted of one of these crimes for possessing the same property.
If you receive multiple items of stolen property on a single occasion, you can only be charged with one count of receiving stolen property. However, if you receive one or more items of stolen property on multiple occasions, you can be charged with multiple counts of receiving stolen property for each separate time that you took possession of the prohibited item(s).
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
Wallin & Klarich has successfully represented clients facing receiving stolen property charges in California for over 40 years. Drawing from extensive experience, our talented defense lawyers will thoroughly review your case and develop an effective defense strategy specifically tailored to your case. Our goal is to provide you with the best legal representation possible and help you win your case.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, San Diego, Torrance and Sherman Oaks., there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us now for a free phone consultation at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.