The answer to this question is complicated. In order for the court to convict you, it must determine that the property was stolen, that you were in control of the property, and that you were aware the property was stolen. Here are the expanded details surrounding this offense and the possible punishments for possessing stolen property.
The Property Was Stolen
Typically the easiest fact to prove, the court must show that someone stole the property. It is important to note that the court does not have to prove who initially stole the property in order to convict you of possessing stolen property.
You Were In Control of the Property
In order for the court to charge you with possession, they must prove you were in control of the stolen property at the time of the arrest. This does not only refer to physical control, but to general ownership of the item as well. For example, although the item isn’t on your person during the arrest, if it’s stored in your garage, you still maintain control of the property.
You Were Aware the Property Was Stolen
Lastly, the court must prove that you were aware of the stolen nature of the item upon its purchase. Although you can claim you simply “did not know,” this may not act as a solid defense. If the court determines that a reasonable person would recognize the property as stolen, your naivety is not a proper defense, and the court may still find you guilty of possessing stolen property.
Punishments for the Possession of Stolen Property
If you are convicted of possessing stolen property, you could face a number of consequences. The sentence you face will vary depending on factors specific to your case, including:
- The details of the purchase
- The value of the item
- The laws of the state where you are charged
Some states classify the possession of stolen property as a misdemeanor, whereas others classify the crime as a felony. Depending on these details, you could face a hefty fine, jail time, restitution, or even probation.
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Over the past 30 years, I have defended hundreds of clients and helped reduce or even drop their charges. Don’t let a misunderstanding such as the possession of stolen property affect the rest of your life. Call me today for a free consultation.
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