National Stolen Property Act Lawyers

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 What Is the National Stolen Property Act?

The National Stolen Property Act (NSPA) makes the transport, receipt, or sale of stolen property unlawful across state lines or in foreign commerce.

What Is Included in the National Stolen Property Act?

Any of the following acts are illegal under the NSPA:

  • Transportation
  • Transmittal
  • Transfer
  • Receipt
  • Possession
  • Concealment
  • Storage
  • Barter
  • Sale, or
  • Disposal

of anything valued at $5,000 or more used in counterfeiting, including goods, wares, merchandise, securities, money, and articles. The courts have held that the goods need not be stolen in the U.S. nor be owned by a U.S. citizen to be subject to the Act.

What Are the Elements of the Crime?

It is specified in the NSPA that a violation of the law requires evidence that the perpetrator had actual knowledge of the theft. Your ignorance of the theft can be admitted as a defense. Nevertheless, ignorance of the law itself cannot be used as a defense.

What Does It Mean to “Receive Stolen Property?”

Under general laws governing receiving stolen property, accepting or purchasing property that has been obtained illegally, such as through theft, is a crime. However, receiving stolen property is its own separate crime and thus should not be confused with similar criminal acts of theft, robbery, or extortion.

In order to convict someone of receiving stolen property, prosecutors typically must prove the following elements:

  • Before the property was received, it must have been stolen;
  • It must be received by someone other than the thief who allegedly stole it;
  • It is necessary for the person who receives stolen property to have actual knowledge or should have known that it is stolen; and
  • It must have been the receiver’s intention to deprive the rightful owner of their property permanently (e.g., by keeping it, hiding it, selling it, giving it away).

Imagine you are charged with receiving stolen property. If that is the case, you should seek legal advice from a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for more information about criminal laws and for representation in court.

It is especially important to hire an attorney if you are charged with a felony offense since a conviction can result in prison time.

What If I Did Not Know That the Property Was Stolen?

When did the receiver discover that the property had been stolen during the transaction? In answering this question, most convictions will be based on whether you received the property or were in possession of it when it was received.

If the prosecutor could prove all of the elements of the crime, the receiver would likely be convicted if they knew they were receiving stolen property. Receivers can continue to use stolen property dishonestly, such as by selling it to unsuspecting buyers. They can also be found guilty of possessing stolen property in that case.

Knowledge is the key to proving this crime. In addition, it would be much harder for the prosecutor to secure a conviction if the receiver actually did not know the property was stolen.

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

No. The prosecution must prove that the defendant actually obtained stolen goods. It must be proven 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 taken illegally
  • The defendant actually knew about the presence of the property

If I Purchase the Stolen Property Once it Reaches State Lines, Can I Get in Trouble?

Yes. However, a person will not be charged under this law. Instead, they will be charged with theft by receiving stolen property from another state.

When a person receives and retains/disposes of stolen property from another state, they commit theft by receiving stolen property.

Can I Be Convicted of Receiving Stolen Property If I Planned to Return the Items?

Receivers intending to return stolen items to their owners are generally not convicted of receiving stolen property. As a result, the prosecutor would not be able to prove that the receiver intended to deprive the rightful owner of their property and benefit from receiving the stolen items.

Depending on the facts of the case, the defendant may have to prove either that they had no knowledge that the property was stolen or that they had no intent to conceal that it belonged to someone else. The affirmative defense may be useful if the defendant has substantial evidence to deny knowledge or intent.

If I Bring Stolen Property Into a State and Am Convicted of Theft, Am I Likely to Be Convicted as a Felon?

A person convicted of this crime may become a felon. An individual who commits this crime can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. In most cases, stealing property worth more than $1,500 constitutes a felony. In any other case, the crime is a misdemeanor. Judges may also reduce felony charges to misdemeanors if they decide to do so.

How Much Prison Time Could I Get If I Am Convicted of the Felony Version of This Crime? What Are the Possible Consequences of Receiving Stolen Property?

Charges against a receiver can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the facts of the case.

However, receiving stolen property is generally considered a “wobbler” offense. Crimes can either be charged as felonies or as misdemeanors. Often, the value of the stolen property determines whether the crime should be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.

It is likely that the receiver will be charged with a felony if the stolen property is worth a lot of money. Alternatively, if the stolen property is inexpensive, the defendant is likely to be charged with a misdemeanor.

Legal punishments may be imposed on receivers regardless of their charges, including:

  • Serving a prison sentence;
  • Paying restitution to any victims harmed by the receiver’s actions;
  • Having to abide by probation guidelines (e.g., curfew, drug tests, treatment, etc.); or
  • Having to pay criminal monetary fines (depending on the value of the property in question).

First-time offenders usually only have to pay criminal fines. As an example, if the offender is found guilty of this crime as a misdemeanor, they will likely be fined no more than $1,000. If the offender were charged and convicted of this crime as a felony, they would likely be fined $1,000 or more.

Further, repeat offenders may face harsher punishments and may be charged with felony crimes if they are considered repeat offenders rather than first-time offenders. It is common for first-time offenders to receive less severe punishments to demonstrate that they can rehabilitate themselves.

Prison time for a felony conviction depends entirely on the value of the stolen property.

Therefore, a felony charge based on property value carries the following punishment:

  • $25,000 or more: Two to 20 years in prison
  • $5,000 to $25,000: One to 10 years in prison
  • $1,500 to $5,000: One to five years in prison

Victim of Theft in Violation of the National Stolen Property Act?

You should contact the police immediately if you are the victim of theft under the National Stolen Property Act. Police will then forward your case to the appropriate authorities to prosecute the person who committed the theft against you if there is sufficient evidence.

Accused of Violating the National Stolen Property Act?

Suppose you are accused of violating the National Stolen Property Act. In that case, you should speak to a criminal attorney to learn more about your rights, defenses, and the complicated legal system.

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