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San Diego Receiving Stolen Property Attorney

The California Penal Code under the section 496 defines the crime of receipt of stolen property as: “(a) every person who buys or receives any property that has been stolen or that has been obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, or who conceals, sells, withholds, or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding any property from the owner, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained."

In other words, receipt of stolen property is when a person receives possession and control of stolen property with knowledge that the property was obtained in a criminal way by another person, with intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

The most common examples of receiving stolen property are: when a friend of yours steal a computer from a commercial department and he brings the computer to your house , he disclosed that the computer has been stolen and he asked to leave the computer in your house. You are not liable for burglary, but you could be liable of receiving stolen property, since you had possession knowing that the object has been stolen.

Common examples:

A woman who buys large number electronics on internet to re-sell online, without asking the seller where he obtained the property, could be liable of receiving stolen property.

A boyfriend who helped the girlfriend to hide a stolen computer in his house, knowing that she got the property committing a burglary.

A man told his friend that he committed a robbery and asked his friend to help him hiding the money that he got from the crime. If the friend help the man, he could be liable of receiving stolen property

A son used to help his dad to sell some art to Europe, however the son never understood where the piece of arts came from and he never asked his dad.  The son could be held liable receiving stolen property, since he could have known that all the properties were stolen.

Receiving possession and control

The test is whether the defendant has possession and control over the property, possession and control can be physical or it can be demonstrated by organizing the delivery of the stolen property or arranging a buyer for the stolen goods. Thus, it is also received stolen property if the thief places the stolen property in a place that the defendant has designated, or for profit, the defendant arranges for a sale of the property by the thief to a third party.

Moreover, just being a passenger of a stolen car and have full knowledge about it, could lead a person of a receiving stolen property conviction, just the fact that you ridden in a stolen car and you know it, you could be guilty of this crime.


Larry is a housekeeper of a house, one day, Larry steals some jewelry  from the house. After committing the crime, Larry goes to her sister's house and ask her to help selling the stolen property.

The sister agrees  but since was busy, she intent to sell the jewelry next week and keep the properties at her house.

In this case, the sister could be guilty of receiving stolen property, since he kept the jewelry at her house and this is considered to have control over the property.

Example: Robert went to pick up his friend, Colton, with a brand new car. Colton asked Robert who he paid for the car and Robert disclosed to him that he just had stolen the car. Since Colton thinks that the police will never find the car,  he does not do nothing about it. They went to Las Vegas with the stolen car but at some point, the police recognize the stolen property and arrest both men.

In this case, Robert could not be guilty of theft, however, he could be charged of receiving stolen property.

Of stolen property

Most jurisdiction define stolen property broadly to include property obtained by commission of any of the property offenses. Under California rules, property is considered to be stolen if it was obtained by theft, larceny, embezzlement, false pretense or trick, burglary, or robbery.

However, the property must have "stolen"status at the time it was received by the defendant. The property must be stolen in fact, even if the receiver believes that he is receiving stolen goods, if they are not actually stolen, there is no criminal liability. Once the property is returned to the owner or is safely arranged to be returned to the owner, the property is no longer "stolen"for purpose of this crime. Thus, if stolen goods have been recovered by the police and are used in an undercover operation with the owner's permission, the goods are not stolen and the defendant cannot be guilty of receipt of stolen property, however, the defendant may be guilty of attempt to receive stolen goods.

Example: Brent is a director of a big corporation, for the past 10 years he stole cash every month from the company's bank account. His wife Beth knew about the crime, but she did not help him to commit the crime, however, every month she uses the stolen money to pay her expenses.

In this scenario, even though Beth  did not help the husband to commit the crime, she could be held guilty of receiving stolen property, since she had possess of the money obtained from an embezzlement crime.

Knowledge that property was obtained in a criminal way by another person

The defendant must know or have strong belief or suspicion that the property he received was stolen.  To establish this determination, it should considered what the defendant actually knew. Strong belief or suspicion that the goods are stolen is sufficient to satisfy this element. Common examples include business deals under unusual circumstances or grossly underpriced products.

Intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property      

The recipient must intend to permanently deprive the owner of the stolen goods he is receiving. The intent to deprive  must coincide with the receipt of the stolen property.


Usually, under California Rules, receiving stolen property used to be punished as a wobbler in California, meaning that the prosecution had a option to charge the defendant with both felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts of each case and the defendant's criminal history. However, after the proposition 47, the rules of charges has changed, now, the prosecution only can file a charge with a wobbler, if the received stolen property is valuable more than $950. If the stolen property is worth less than $950, the penalty is going to be considered as a California misdemeanor. 

Thus, if the crime is charged as a misdemeanor the punishment is going to be by imprisonment in county jail up to one (1) year; or by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both imprisonment and fine.

If the receiving stolen property is charged as a felony penalty in California, the defendant could face a punishment  of felony probation, or imprisonment of sixteen (16), two (2) years or three (3) years; or a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both imprisonment and fine.     

Legal defenses

A receiving stolen property as mentioned could be a wobbler in California, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the crime is going to be on the person's criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there a felony or misdemeanor registered, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a criminal background.  If you have been charged with this type of crime, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be used to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems. 

To contest the charges of this crime San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses, if that is the case:

  • You didn't know the property was stolen.

If you did not know that the received property was stolen, you should not be facing a receiving stolen property conviction. If this was your case, please contact our staff promptly, we can build a strong defense to avoid the conviction and dismiss your case.

  • You didn't know that you possessed the stolen property.

Sometimes, the person that was charged of receiving stolen property did not know that the stolen property was placed in his/her car or home by another person, by a close friend or by boyfriend/ girlfriend. If this was the case, our staff can build a defense to help you avoid the charges.

  • Innocent intent.

If at the time you received the stolen property you had intention to return the property or bring it to the law enforcement, you could have a strong defense that is called innocent intent defense. Thus, if that is the case, you could not be guilty of receiving stolen property, since the main element of the crime is to deprive the property permanently from the owner.