Receiving Stolen Property (Penal Code §496)
Many instances can occur where a person has no clue that an item they are purchasing or accepting from another person could be stolen property. Nevertheless, the law establishes certain rules that make willful blindness NOT a defense. Therefore, it pays to know what kinds of scenarios should place a person in fear that they may be overstepping the law.
The proof that’s required to arrest someone of this offense or to charge them is the following: (1) the property in question must have been stolen, (2) the person charged must have received or accepted the property, and (3) the person accepting the property must have known that it was stolen. Take notice in the requirements to prove this crime, the receiver of the goods must have some kind of knowledge that they are stolen. One way to show this is through circumstantial evidence that would make the jury believe that any other person standing in the shoes of the defendant would know better that such property could not be be so cheap or “free”. Of course the surrounding circumstances of the entire ordeal will come into the picture to determine if the receiver should have known.
The offense of receiving stolen property can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor a person can be punished by up to one year in jail. If a felony count is charged however, a person can do up to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison.