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Charged with Receiving Stolen Property in Santa Barbara?


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You can be charged in California with receiving stolen property under California Penal Code Section 496(a) if you acquire or take possession of property that you know or should have known has been stolen. A charge of receiving stolen property often stems from the purchase of a new or used item that turns out to have been stolen. The law is intended to deter thieves from profiting from selling or bartering stolen goods.

A conviction of receiving stolen property may carry severe penalties so it is important to act immediately to protect your freedom. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge of receiving stolen property, you should seek the guidance of a skilled Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer to develop the best defense strategy to respond to the charge.

stolen property attorneyAttorney Steven R. Andrade is a former prosecutor and a highly skilled defense attorney who has achieved successful outcomes defending individuals charged with criminal offenses in Santa Barbara and across Southern California. He understands that good people may find themselves in bad situations sometimes and may mistakenly get charged with a criminal offense such as receiving stolen property. Mr. Andrade has a reputation for fighting for his clients’ legal rights and has been ranked as one of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers. If you or your loved one has been charged with receiving stolen property or possession of stolen property in California, you need an aggressive lawyer standing up for you. You can gain a better understanding of your legal rights during a free consultation.

Being charged with a criminal offense does not mean that you committed the crime. It does mean that you need to enlist the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who has handled receiving stolen property cases in California. At Andrade Law Offices, we are available 24/7 to provide experienced criminal defense legal representation.

What Does the California Penal Code Say About Receiving Stolen Property?

stolen property scaleUnder California Penal Code 496(a), receiving stolen property can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecutor will take into consideration the value of the stolen property in weighing whether to charge the offense as a misdemeanor or a felony as well as the defendant’s criminal record. If the stolen property that you are alleged to have received does not exceed $950 in value, the offense will be charged as a misdemeanor and a conviction will carry a sentence of no more than one year in jail.

If the value of the stolen property exceeds $950, however, the offense will most likely be charged as a felony. A conviction of a felony receiving stolen property offense carries a punishment of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

stolen property tvFor example, if you purchase a stereo or television from an acquaintance and you know that he stole the electronics from his employer or another acquaintance, then you may be charged with receiving stolen property.

If you received ten stolen stereos at the same time, you would face one charge of receiving stolen property under California Penal Code 496(a). However, if you received five stolen stereos on two different occasions, you could be charged with two counts of receiving stolen property.

The challenge that California prosecutors must overcome to prove a receiving stolen property case is to show the defendant knew or should have known that the items were stolen. If you buy and sell electronic goods on Craigslist or eBay and you acquire for resale some electronic goods with obliterated serial numbers, the prosecutor may argue that you should reasonably have known the items were stolen. However, you cannot be convicted of both theft and receiving stolen property involving the same property.

Some people who are charged with receiving stolen property answer police questions, incorrectly assuming that they can talk their way out of a charge. In doing so, they often make inconsistent statements and undermine their own defense.

If you are arrested for receiving stolen property, it is important that you consult a criminal defense lawyer before making any statement to the police. Tell the police that you would like to cooperate, but that you need to speak with your attorney first. You should consult with a defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Defense Strategies to Receiving Stolen Property

A skilled Santa Barbara defense attorney can present a variety of valid and effective defense strategies to rebut a charge of receiving stolen property, depending on the specific facts of the case. Among the defenses that may be applicable if you have been charged with receiving stolen property are the following:

stolen property - headYou were unaware that the property was stolen. If it can be shown that you were unaware the goods were stolen, then you did not violate the law. Knowledge that the goods were stolen is a key factor in making a receiving stolen property charge stick.
stolen property coupleYou were unaware that stolen goods were being stored on your property. If a boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate or family member stored stolen goods in your apartment or residence without your knowledge, you may have a valid defense to a receiving stolen property charge.
stolen property phoneYour intent in accepting the stolen goods was innocent. You received the stolen goods in order to return them to their rightful owner or turn the items over to the police at the time you received it. If you held on to the stolen property for an extended period of time, it will be more difficult to show that you intended to return the items.
stolen property personYou were intoxicated at the time and did not realize the goods that you were acquiring were stolen.

Since 1987, attorney Steven Andrade has been standing up for people facing criminal charges including theft offenses, embezzlement and receiving stolen property. As a former prosecutor and longtime defense attorney, he knows how to identify weaknesses in prosecutors’ cases and how to use that knowledge to his clients’ advantage. Contact Andrade Law Offices today for a free, confidential review of the charge that you are facing and an explanation of how we can help you.

Sources: California Penal Code