Receiving Stolen Property Defenses
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What Is Receiving Stolen Property?
The specific definition to receiving stolen property will vary from state to state, and may even go under a different title, such as possession of stolen goods. Generally, receiving stolen property is where an individual buys property they know is stolen, and with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the property.
What Are Possible Defenses against an Accusation of Receiving Stolen Property?
Receiving stolen property is a theft crime, and every defense available for such crimes can be used, although the success of any specific defense will depend on the laws of the state and severity of the crime. Generally, these defenses include:
- Insufficient evidence - To be successfully convicted of receiving stolen property, the property received must in fact be stolen, and the defendant must either know or should have known it was stolen. Mere possession of stolen property is not enough evidence to convict, although it may be a crime itself. Additionally, possession may indicate that the person knew or should have known the property was stolen. For example, buying goods from the back of a van in a dark alley would lead most people to believe the property was stolen, and a prosecutor will likely make this argument.
- Entrapment - Entrapment occurs when the government compels an innocent person to commit a crime they would have otherwise not committed. However, entrapment is a difficult defense, and simply being offered an opportunity to perform the illegal act does not constitute entrapment.
- Insanity - An insanity defense allows a person to claim they were legally insane, either at the time of the offense or during trial. Insanity is possible defense, but it is an incredibly complicated and difficult defense. As a result, the time and effort it takes to put forth an insanity defense are only justified for more serious crimes, and this defense is not used often in receiving stolen property cases.
- Incapacity - This is different from insanity, and may be more likely to work if the defendant wishes to bring up their mental state as a defense. For example, if the defendant is an adult but has the educational ability of a minor, they may be considered legally incapacitated.
- Intoxication - Voluntary intoxication - by drugs or alcohol - is almost never a defense to a crime. The idea behind that rule is if a person voluntarily chooses to become intoxicated, they should know they may act differently, and therefore will be held liable for all of their behavior. As long as the circumstances show that a sober person would have known the property was stolen, not knowing it was stolen because someone was drunk will not work. Involuntary intoxication, on the other hand, may be a successful defense.
What If I Paid Full Price for the Stolen Property?
This is not a defense. As long as what the defendant bought was stolen and they knew or should have known it was stolen, then paying "full price" for the item is irrelevant.
When Should I Seek Legal Advice?
If you are facing or may be facing criminal prosecution for receiving stolen property, you should consult with an attorney immediately. The best way to determine how successful any of these defenses will be is to consult with a lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer can analyze your situation, explain your options, and determine the best defenses to pursue.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 06-30-2014 12:34 PM PDT
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