What Happens if You Receive Stolen Property?

What Happens if You Receive Stolen Property?We have provided some articles previously that deal with topics like robberies and grand/petty theft. In these situations, stolen property is extracted from the actual owner. But what happens to that stolen property? Some of the time it is kept by those who committed the crime, but in other cases, the property can be sold or given to other people. In California, Penal Code 496 makes it illegal to receive stolen property and this article will provide a brief summary of its elements.


One of the most important elements the prosecution must prove is that the individual receiving the stolen property must have known that the property was stolen. Given this, if a person is given stolen property without their knowledge, they can defend themselves against this charge by proving they did not know of the stolen nature. Furthermore, the other elements that must be proven include that the property must have been bought, sold, concealed, or received by another person and that the defendant was aware of the stolen property. The penal code defines receiving as controlling or possessing the property in question. Moreover, a property is defined as stolen if it was possessed through methods of theft, robbery, or burglary.


If the prosecution meets its burden, the defendant faces a wobbler; they face either a misdemeanor or a felony. Important to note: if more than one piece of stolen property is received in one instance, the charge is only applied once. Issues like multiple pieces and other circumstances surrounding the crime will determine whether the defendant faces a misdemeanor or felony conviction. In the case of a misdemeanor, the defendant will receive a punishment of up to a year in jail, probation, and a fine. Similar punishments are given to those with a felony conviction, but the jail time can increase to three years behind bars.

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