Receiving Stolen Property

Receiving Stolen Property (1) – Cal. Pen. Code § 496 

In California, you could be charged with this if you have bought, received, or sold a stolen good. This could be charged as a felony, with prison time, or a misdemeanor with similar punishments as shoplifting. The elements are very complicated. If you have been charged with a complicated theft offense, be sure to hire an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney located in Orange County. (1)

Could you be charged with receiving stolen property (1) if you didn’t know it was stolen?

Yes, if you should have known it was stolen or a reasonable person would know it was stolen.

Example: Keith sells Kelly a new iPhone 15 for $15. Kelly thinks she is getting a great deal. Here, the prosecution will say the value of the phone is much higher than $15, which is common knowledge and, therefore, Kelly should have known and could be charged with Cal. Pen. Code § 496.

What is the punishment for receiving stolen property (1) in Orange County, CA?

What does the prosecution have to convict you of Cal. Pen. Code § 496 Receiving Stolen Property (1)?

1. Defendant bought or received property that had been stolen or obtained by theft or extortion.
OR
1. Defendant concealed, sold, or withheld property that had been stolen or obtained by theft or extortion.
OR
1. Defendant aided in concealing, selling, or withholding property that had been stolen or obtained by theft or extortion.

AND

2. Defendant knew the property was stolen or obtained by theft or extortion at the time he or she bought or received the property.
OR
2. Defendant knew the property was stolen or obtained by theft or extortion at the time he or she concealed, sold or withheld the property from the owner.
OR
2. Defendant knew the property was stolen or obtained by theft or extortion at the time he or she aided in concealing, selling, or withholding the property from the owner.

AND 

3. The value of the property was less than or greater than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950.00). (This determines whether you will be charged with a felony or misdemeanor.

How does the prosecution prove the knowledge?

The prosecution will use the value of the actual item to imply that person knew it was too good to be true for a legitimate deal. They will also try to use messages with the seller or person who stole the item. They can also use statements made by a person.

What are defenses to receiving stolen property (1)?

  • Accident: If a person can prove that 
  • Civil compromise: if a request for payment is sent and you have made the payment, the prosecution can choose to dismiss the case. This means restitution (2) is paid in full. This is governed by Cal. Pen. Code § 1378 (3). There are exceptions that apply also in Cal. Pen. Code § 1377 (4).
  • Pretrial Diversion: There are several types of diversion you may be eligible for. The best way to find out is to speak with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Orange County.

Can I get an expungement for Receiving Stolen Property (1)?

Are there immigration consequences of being convicted of Receiving Stolen Property (1)?

Yes, a plea to this conviction would be considered a Crime Against Moral Turpitude according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Contact an experience Criminal Defense Attorney in Orange County, CA to see what other options you could have when charged with this crime. An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney should be able to help protect your immigration concerns during your criminal case.

What other related theft charges could be misdemeanors?

Petty Theft - Cal. Pen. Code § 484(a) (5): This can be a misdemeanor with similar punishments or it can be a felony which includes prison time. This depends on whether the amount of the theft is more or less than $950. The elements of a petty theft do not include intent so prosecutors are more willing to charge someone with this type of offense because it is easier to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Petty Theft with a prior - Cal. Pen. Code § 666 (6): Prosecutors will look at your previous criminal history before filing this charge. If they see you have priors, they can instead charge you with this code section. This can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is a felony, it carries the maximum of 3 years in prison and $10,000 fine.

  
Statute for Receiving Stolen Property (1) § 496
(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, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170. However, if the value of the property does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), the offense shall be a misdemeanor, punishable only by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, if such person has no prior convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 290.
A principal in the actual theft of the property may be convicted pursuant to this section. However, no person may be convicted both pursuant to this section and of the theft of the same property.
(b) Every swap meet vendor, as defined in Section 21661 of the Business and Professions Code, and every person whose principal business is dealing in, or collecting, merchandise or personal property, and every agent, employee, or representative of that person, who buys or receives any property of a value in excess of nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) that has been stolen or obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, under circumstances that should cause the person, agent, employee, or representative to make reasonable inquiry to ascertain that the person from whom the property was bought or received had the legal right to sell or deliver it, without making a reasonable inquiry, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
Every swap meet vendor, as defined in Section 21661 of the Business and Professions Code, and every person whose principal business is dealing in, or collecting, merchandise or personal property, and every agent, employee, or representative of that person, who buys or receives any property of a value of nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or less that has been stolen or obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, under circumstances that should cause the person, agent, employee, or representative to make reasonable inquiry to ascertain that the person from whom the property was bought or received had the legal right to sell or deliver it, without making a reasonable inquiry, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(c) Any person who has been injured by a violation of subdivision (a) or (b) may bring an action for three times the amount of actual damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff, costs of suit, and reasonable attorney’s fees.
(d) Notwithstanding Section 664, any attempt to commit any act prohibited by this section, except an offense specified in the accusatory pleading as a misdemeanor, is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

 

1. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=496

2. https://christinemartinlaw.com/what-is-restitution

3. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=1378.&lawCode=PEN

4. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=1377.&nodeTreePath=5.12.10&lawCode=PEN

5. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=484

6. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=666