Sec 496 of the California Penal Code defines the crime of receiving stolen property is considered a crime. As defined under the law, the act of receiving includes buying, selling, receiving, concealing or withholding property known to be stolen from another person.

This law specifically charges those who knowingly perform these acts after the theft has been completed. The following are the elements of the crime:

• The said property subject of the crime was stolen;
• The accused received the said stolen property;
• The accused knew that the property was stolen;

Receiving the stolen property presupposes that there is an actual and physical possession of the items. This is not always necessary, as the crime can be committed through constructive possession over the property. This means that the accused has either direct control or the right to control the property and can even be jointly possessed with another party, who would also be liable for the crime.

Often, those prosecuted under this crime are vendors such as the ones that are listed below:

• Swap meet vendors or those dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property;
• Dealers or collectors of junk metals or second hand materials or those who buy or receive particular metals used in providing telephone, transportation or public utility services;
• Dealers or collectors of second hand books or other literary materials;
• Those buying or receiving cars, boats, trailers or specialized construction equipment;
• Those buying or selling specific personal property, including electronic equipment or appliances from which serial numbers or other identifying marks have been removed or altered;

The following are the penalties imposable for the crime of receiving stolen property. Since this crime is considered as a “wobbler”, then the crime can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony offense depending upon the factual circumstances of the case and the criminal history of the accused. The penalties are as follows:

• For the misdemeanor offense, the penalties are up to one (1) year in county prison;
• For the felony offense, the penalties are between sixteen (16) to thirty six (36) months in state prison;
• If the stolen property is a car, trailer, boat or special construction equipment, the same prison sentence applies, for a misdemeanor an additional $1,000 fine maximum while a felony would have an additional fine of $10,000 fine maximum;
• There are also civil penalties, allowing the victim to collect as much as three (3) times the valued amount of the stolen property, in addition to attorney’s fees and court costs;

The crime of receiving stolen property is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.