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Receiving Stolen Property

San Bernardino and Riverside County Attorney Helping Those Accused of Theft Crimes

Criminal charges for theft crimes, including the crime of receiving stolen property, present potentially serious and life-changing consequences. If you or a loved one has been accused of stealing or a related offense, San Bernardino and Riverside County theft crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings is here to advise and represent you. It is imperative that you understand your legal rights and defend yourself appropriately. Mr. Comings has assisted people throughout Southern California, zealously advocating on their behalf.

Receiving Stolen Property is a Crime Set Forth in the California Penal Code

California law mandates that when the state charges someone with theft, they prove every element of the alleged crime. According to California Penal Code section 496(a), the crime of receiving stolen property requires that the state prosecutor demonstrate the defendant bought, sold or helped to sell, received, concealed, or withheld property that had been stolen, and knew that the property had been stolen. The element of knowledge is essential to the crime, and the burden lies on the state to prove that the defendant knew the property had been stolen at the time of the alleged crime. The Penal Code also establishes certain crimes for specific persons that buy or receive certain types of stolen property, such as swap meet vendors, dealers or collectors of junk metals, and individuals selling or buying computer chips or electronic equipment.

“Receiving” stolen property according to the law means that an individual took possession or control of the property. More than one person can be considered to be in possession of property. Further, “possession” can occur without physical possession, such as when a defendant holds control over the property.

Penalties for Receiving Stolen Property

The punishment for receiving stolen property depends on the value of the property. As it is considered a “wobbler” offense in California, the prosecutor may charge this crime as a misdemeanor or a felony. The law states that an offense involving property valued under $950 is a misdemeanor, and the defendant can be imprisoned for one year or less, assuming other provisions set forth in the law are met. If the crime is charged as a felony, consequences are more dire.

Defendants who receive more than one item of stolen property on one occasion will still have committed only a single offense of receiving stolen property. Additionally, a defendant cannot be convicted of selling and receiving the same property. For example, a person who steals a vehicle, and is apprehended by law enforcement cannot be prosecuted for grand theft auto as well as receiving stolen property. The state would prosecute them for one crime or the other.

The state often charges the crime of receiving stolen property in connection with other theft crime charges. The crimes of grand theft, petty theft, and embezzlement are examples of other theft crimes. However, an individual may not be convicted of both receiving stolen property, and theft of the same property. In some cases, the prosecutor may charge a defendant with the crime of receiving stolen property when in fact they believe that the defendant stole the property. If the evidence does not link the defendant to the actual theft, the prosecutor may, in some situations, attempt to convict under Penal Code section 496.

Setting Forth a Strong Defense to a Receiving Stolen Property Charge

As stated above, for the state to successfully charge a defendant with the crime of receiving stolen property, they must show that the defendant held knowledge that the property was stolen at the time of the crime. If, instead, the criminal conduct was accidental, then the defendant would not be guilty. This legal defense of “accident” will clear the defendant of liability. However, it is up to a skilled defense attorney to show that the conduct was in fact unintentional. Mounting the defense of accident requires careful assessment of the facts of the case. It must be clear that at the time the defendant received the property, they did not know it was stolen.

Additionally, the defendant may set forth the defense that they were borrowing the property. If the owner had provided permission to the defendant to obtain the property, and the defendant intended to return it, this conduct may not rise to the level of a crime. This is often termed “innocent intent” which means that at the time you received the property you intended to return it to the owner. An individual must have intended to return the property at the time they received it, not later. Finally, ownership is another defense to the crime of receiving stolen property. Evidence that supports a claim of ownership would most likely result in the charges being dismissed.

Dedicated Theft Crime Lawyer for Individuals in Riverside and San Bernardino County

When facing charges for receiving stolen property, it is important to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer so that you can protect your rights and your future. Attorney Gregory H. Comings represents clients throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, helping them to seek a dismissal or reduction of their criminal charges. Our office is prepared to provide you an honest, clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. We offer a free consultation and can be reached at (951) 686-3456 or online. In addition to theft crimes such as receiving stolen property and burglary, Mr. Comings helps people facing charges for violent crimes, white collar crimes, drug crimes, and sex crimes. We proudly represent people throughout Southern California, including in Palm Springs, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Indio, Temecula, Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, and Victorville.

Client Reviews
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"Amazing attorney. Kind, compassionate man. Look no further...this is your guy!" D.F.
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"Gregory Comings IS THE MOST AMAZING CRIMINAL ATTORNEY IN ALL OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY OR ANY COUNTY! Never have I met anyone that was so passionate and so involved with not only their clients but with their clients family as well!... S.A.
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"Being in the business, I have access to hundreds of criminal defense attorneys. When a family member ran into legal problems, I sent them to Mr. Comings. Mr. Comings provided a passionate and aggressive defense... K.L.