Receiving Stolen Property Defense Lawyer in Orange County
Orange County is home to thousands of wholesalers and street-corner salesmen, who sell products at big businesses, local stores, swap meets, and pawn shops, but not all of them are honest about where their products come from. It is very easy to purchase a product that was shoplifted or stolen from another business. Even receiving a new TV or jewelry from a friend could put you in hot water if they acquired it illegally. Many people are not aware they are receiving stolen goods, and even if all evidence points to you, chances are you have been wrongly arrested after being falsely accused by someone with an ulterior motive.
Are you being accused of receiving stolen property and don't know what to do? At Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our Orange County theft defense attorney can help you through this difficult time and explain the process behind building you an unparalleled defense. Call an experienced defense attorney at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
PC 496 makes it a crime to buy, sell, receive, conceal, or withhold property you know is stolen. This means if you knowingly receive stolen property, regardless if it was directly from the thief or through someone else who acquired the stolen property, then you may be charged with receiving stolen property.
For the Orange County District Attorney to make a case against you for receiving stolen property, they must prove three facts:
- The property was stolen
- You received the stolen property
- You knew the property was stolen
To qualify as "stolen property" the suspected property must have been obtained by petty or grand theft. This can include larceny, embezzlement, trick, or extortion, burglary, or robbery. Under PC 496, if you subsequently receive property and weren't aware at the time it was stolen property, but later learned or suspected that fact, you must immediately contact the owner or the police to avoid prosecution.
You can be accused of receiving stolen property if you have possession and control over the suspected property. Your possession of the stolen property doesn't even need to be exclusively yours—as you and others may jointly possess the property. However, courts have noted that merely being near the stolen property or having access to the stolen property is not sufficient (by itself) to sustain a PC 496 conviction.
If you are under investigation for receiving stolen property, it is imperative not to speak with law enforcement until your lawyer is present. With no direct evidence, they may assume from the circumstances surrounding your arrest that you knew the property was stolen.
These circumstances may include helping conceal the stolen property, that the price of the property was "too good to be true," only cash payments were accepted, the seller couldn't give you a receipt, and identifying marks such as serial codes were removed.
Under PC 496, receiving stolen property is a "wobbler," which means it can either be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. For it to be filed as a misdemeanor or felony generally depends on the value of the stolen property and your criminal history.
In California, petty theft is a misdemeanor charge for property worth less than $950. In turn, grand theft is for products or goods worth $950 or more. These same definitions apply to a receiving stolen property charge. Typically, if the value of the property you receive is worth less than $950, you will only be charged with a misdemeanor. For cases involving $950 or more in stolen goods, the district attorney can choose to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony based on your criminal record.
If convicted of misdemeanor receiving stolen property, you could face:
- Up to one year in county jail;
- Up to $1,000 in fines;
- Informal probation
If convicted of felony receiving stolen property, you could be punished with:
- Up to 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison;
- Up to $10,000 in fines;
- Formal probation
In addition, felony charges can result in you being banned from owning a firearm, having difficulties finding work, and having restrictions on voting rights while you are in prison.
If the stolen property was a car, trailer, special construction equipment, or boat, you face an enhanced sentence under PC 496d. In addition to the punishments outlined above, you can face additional fines of up to $1,000 for a misdemeanor conviction and up to $10,000 for a felony conviction. Be advised, if convicted, PC 496 permits the victim of the crime to collect three times the amount of their loss and their attorney's fees from you.
Many individuals wonder if they can be charged with different counts of receiving the same stolen property or if they can be charged with receiving different stolen property. While this is a complicated situation, the short answer is no. This is because PC 496 specifically states no person may be convicted of stealing and receiving the same stolen property. However, if you use the stolen property for another crime, you could be charged with that crime.
For example, say you knowingly obtained a stolen gun, and the police later find the gun on you. In this case, you would be charged with receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm. If you received stolen property on one occasion, even if it was from different sources, you can only be charged with one count of receiving stolen property. However, if you received stolen property on several different occasions, you can be charged with multiple counts of receiving stolen property.
Mistake of fact means that you did not know the property you acquired was stolen and that you unknowingly received stolen property. Since you assumed you were buying a legitimately owned item and had no idea the property was stolen, you can't be convicted of receiving stolen property. Claim of right follows the same logic as it argues that you believed that the property you purchased was legitimate. Oftentimes, those accused of receiving stolen property are unknowingly and innocently caught in the middle of a theft suspect trying to offload stolen property.
In addition to these two defenses, you may be able to argue innocent intent. You cannot be convicted of PC 496 if you intended to return the property to its owner or the police after you unknowingly bought or received stolen property. This defense will not apply, however, if you thought you were going to return the property after you illegally received it, but later decided to keep it instead.
A charge of receiving stolen property may also be resolved under certain circumstances through the new Proposition 47 provisions. Under this law, you cannot be charged with a felony if the property was worth less than $950. This can prove incredibly important in reducing your charge and potentially allowing you to receive informal probation.
"After buying a MP3 player the police arrested me for receiving stolen property. Thank god I went to Michael L. Guisti, because I told him I bought it off of Craigslist and he took care of everything. Michael got my charge dismissed and I cannot thank him enough."
These charges you're facing can have life-altering consequences, but we assure you Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our team can handle your receiving stolen property case in the best possible way to reduce your criminal charges or even dismiss your case . We can guide you through the legal process, represent you in and out of court, pursue various solutions for your case, and do everything possible to make this complicated time much easier for you.
The OC criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti know the courts of Orange County, so please, don't face your criminal charges alone. Give us a call so we can support you with the expertise and legal counsel you deserve. Call (714) 530-9690 or toll-free (888) 478-8999 today to schedule a free consultation.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.