It’s illegal to obtain property a person knows or believes was stolen. The crime includes the individual accepting the property or paying for it. Receiving stolen goods crime is to deter anyone from helping or rewarding those who take, conceal, or steal property from someone.

Is Receiving Stolen Property a Crime in California?

In California, receiving stolen property is a crime. It is defined as taking possession or acquiring property an individual knows is stolen, as well as to conceal, sell, or withhold the property from its original owner.

If Charged with the Crime, Will I Automatically Be Found Guilty of Receiving Stolen Goods? 

No. Prosecutors have to prove the defendant actually obtained stolen goods. They must prove that:

  • The defendant received, purchased, aided in selling, withheld, or concealed the stolen property from its rightful owner
  • When the defendant did any of the above, they knew or should have reasonably known the property was stolen or taking illegally
  • The defendant actually knew about the presence of the property

What’s The Punishment for Receiving Stolen Goods Conviction?

In California, the crime of receiving stolen goods is considered a wobbler. This means it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances, the defendant’s criminal history, and the value of the stolen property. 

The defendant can be charged with a misdemeanor for receiving goods under $950. It is punishable by up to 1 year in in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or probation

The defendant can face a felony conviction is for any goods valued for more than $950. It is punishable by 16 months to 3 years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and/or probation. 

Will I Face the Same Criminal Penalty if I Am a Vendor or Business Owner?

Yes, but only certain types of business owners/vendors can be convicted of receiving stolen property. For business owners/vendors, the prosecutor must establish that they:

  • Acquired the property under circumstances that would have led them to make a reasonable inquiry to see if it was stolen; and
  • They did not make the reasonable inquiry.

If the business owner/vendor did not make a reasonable inquiry when the circumstances suggested they should, then they can be found guilty of receiving stolen property. 

What are the Defenses to Receiving Stolen Property?

The defenses include:

  • The right to the property
  • No intent to obtain stolen property
  • No knowledge or reason to believe the property was stolen
  • You didn’t take possession of the property.
  • Mental disease or voluntary intoxication when you received the property

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Represent Me?

Yes, hiring a California criminal lawyer is vital to fighting a receiving stolen goods charge and avoid severe consequences.