Can I be arrested for stolen property if I do not know where it came from? 62 Answers as of July 03, 2013

If it is not known where the property came from, is there still a case?

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
Speaking generally, knowledge is part of the mental component of an offense called "mens rea." With most criminal offenses (strict liability being an important exception) the prosecutor must prove that the person either knew, or a jury could infer based on a person's conduct or the circumstances, some type of criminal intention behind their alleged conduct. Ultimately, questions of state of mind are usually factual and up being decided by judge or jury. The prosecutor has the ultimate burden of proof. However, simply because a person is charged does not mean that they will be convicted.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/28/2011
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
Yes.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/31/2013
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
Yes you can, if there was circumstances that you should have known that the property was stolen. IE a 10,000 dollars diamond ring for $200.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/16/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
It depends, I would need all the detailed facts.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/26/2013
Andersen Law PLLC
Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
The State has the burden of proving you knowingly possessed stolen property. The things that tend to show that are a lower-than-normal sale price; refinishing, inability to produce a receipt or to say how much one paid and does not know the name of the seller. You should be aware that it is illegal to keep "found" property. It's called theft of lost or misdelivered property. The worst thing you could do under these circumstances is talk to the police or "cooperate."
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 11/15/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    You can be arrested for having stolen property in your possession whether you knew it was stolen or not. The State must prove that the property was stolen and that you knew or should have known that it was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/15/2011
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
    A person who knowingly possesses stolen property is presumed to possess it with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Richard W. Barton
    Richard W. Barton | Richard W. Barton, Esq.
    Possession of stolen property means that you knew it was stolen when you had it. If you didn't know who it was stolen from exactly, that's not such a good defense. But if you had an innocent explanation, that can be an excellent defense. The line between knowing where something came from and knowing its stolen is blurry. You may need professional legal advice to work it out.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Possession of Stolen property. Yes. Otherwise it would be very easy for people with stolen stuff just to claim they didn't know.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Prior knowledge that the property is stolen or at the least the belief that it could have been stolen is part of the "intent" requirement. Without intent, you should not be convicted.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Offices of Kenneth M. Christopher ESQ | Kenneth Christopher
    There is no exact answer to your question. One of the elements of possession of stolen property is having knowledge or having reason to know it was stolen. Accordingly, if you did not know where the property came from or have reason to believe it was stolen you may have a defense. However, the fact is the State may charge you with the crime and require you to appear in Court to answer the charges despite the fact that you may have a valid defense. The defense does not prevent you from being charged initially but may provide the opportunity to work the case out with the DA's office upon making them aware of your defense or preparing to present your defense at trial. You should contact an attorney if formal charges are or have been filed. The attorney can further asses your case to determine your likelihood of success with your defense and assess the merits of the charges against you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    California penal code section 496 (a) requires that the person receiving the property have knowledge that the property was stolen. 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 district attorney or the grand jury determines that this action would be in the interests of justice, the district attorney or the grand jury, as the case may be, may, if the value of the property does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), specify in the accusatory pleading that the offense shall be a misdemeanor, punishable only by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year. If you did not have knowledge that the property was stolen and you can prove that you are not guilty in the eyes of the law. You should not have to prove that you did not know the property was stolen. the prosecution has to prove that you knew. However, as it is possible to get a jury that thinks that someone would not be on trial unless they were guilty; you should be ready to prove that you did not know.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Sounds to me, from your question, that you knew the property was stolen. If you took possession of the property knowing it was stolen, then you may have a problem. Consult with local counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
    The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
    The answer to this will rest on whether you know or should have known that the property you received was stolen. Here are the applicable statutes in New York: *Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Fifth Degree - NY PL 165.40* A person is guilty of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree when he knowingly possesses property that is stolen and he also has the intent to benefit himself or another person or impedes the owner from recovering the property. New York Penal Law 165.40 is an "A" misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. *Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Fourth Degree - NY PL 165.45* The value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000. New York Penal Law 165.45 is an "E" felony punishable by up to four years in state prison. *Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Third Degree - NY PL 165.50* The value of the stolen property exceeds $3,000. New York Penal Law 165.50 is a "D" felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison. * Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Second Degree - NY PL 165.52* The value of the stolen property exceeds $50,000. New York Penal Law 165.52 is a "C" felony punishable by up to fifteen years in state prison. *Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in First Degree - NY PL 165.54* The value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000,000. New York Penal Law 165.54 is a "B" felony punishable by up to twenty five years in state prison. A tremendous body of case law addresses this presumption that stands for the position that if an accused has exclusive possession of the property shortly after a theft crime is perpetrated and there are circumstances such as the inability to explain where the property came from, a negative inference may be drawn. That inference is that the accused knew that the property he or she possessed was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    The "Receiving Stolen Property" statute says "knowing or having reason to know the property was stolen". It is not necessary to prove that the defendant knew where it came from. The circumstances surrounding you coming into possession are often used to prove the "having reason to know" element of the offense. Things like an unreasonably low purchase price and previous knowledge that the person you bought from deals in stolen property could be evidence used by the state.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Mark Bruce
    Law Office of Mark Bruce | Mark Corwin Bruce
    If you know it's stolen, that's enough. Penal Code 496 says "knows or should have known it was stolen.". There's no requirement in the law that you have to know from whom the item was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    Yes, the District Attorney's Office may still succeed in a criminal prosecution if the defendant did not know where the property came from. If it was unreasonable for you to believe that the property was lawfully sold to you, you can be convicted. For example, if you buy a 70 inch flat screen HD TV for $35 from a guy on a corner, you could probably be convicted of receiving stolen property because you should have reasonably known the property was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    In general, there must be knowledge that the property was stolen. This is not the end of the analysis, however. If I offer to sell you a new ipad for $50 right out of the box, it will perhaps put you on notice that you are buying a stolen ipad. Therefore, the circumstances will determine actual notice that the property was stolen or implied notice that the property was stolen based on a number of other factors. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Anybody can be arrested and charged with anything. Proving it beyond a reasonable doubt is another matter entirely. To be convicted for receiving stolen property the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew the property was stolen or reasonably you should have known it was stolen. It will depend on the facts and evidence of the case. Retain an experienced criminal attorney to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    The police need to show a "reasonable person" would know it was stolen. They don't need to know exactly where it came from, just that it was obtained illegally.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    If the price for which you purchased it is really low you are presumed to know it is stolen.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    It may depend on how you came into possession of the property.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    That would depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. Unless you make admissions it would be possible to be charged, but the case would be very weak and you would be found not guilty at trial. If the police have the statement of the seller who would testify that you knew the property was stolen or you had recent and exclusive possession of property that was just stolen a few hours ago the assumption is that you are the person who stole it. If you have several items that were stolen from a home or store just a few hours ago the inference is that you must have stolen the items and there was no time for you to buy the items from the thief. It depends on what evidence the prosecutor has to prove his case, but normally they cannot do so without the testimony of the person who sold you the property or an admission that you knew it was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    You can be arrested for receiving stolen property in Minnesota if you know, or have reason to know, the property is stolen. You would have reason to know the property was stolen if, for example, you bought a Rolex watch from someone on the street corner for only $75.00 when the watch is worth $500.00. Even if you did not have personal knowledge that the watch was just stolen from a jewelry store, the law imposes criminal liability because you should have known you were purchasing stolen property. The policy behind the law is aimed at discouraging theft crimes by taking away the financial incentive.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    You could very well charged with possession of stolen property. Not knowing it was stolen is a defense to that charge. You are welcome to put forth that defense but it would probably not affect whether the charge is filed; it would be your burden to show that you did not intentionally possess stolen goods.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC | Louis Leibowitz
    Yes. If the property was stolen recently and you are in possession of it, the law presumes that you know that it is stolen. You should talk to a lawyer about preparing a defense. Don't assume the charges will be dropped because you are innocent.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Just because you are and can be arrested based on what cop sees is not the end of the case. You will need a good persistent attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    If you know the property is stolen, you are in receipt of stolen property - this can be a felony if the value is large.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    There can be charges filed for possession of stolen property if the prosecution can establish that you knew or should have known the property was stolen. For example, buying a computer for 50 dollars, or a diamond ring for 150 dollars, SHOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU REASON TO DOUBT THE ORIGIN OF THE PROPERTY. However, more likely,you would be charged with possesswion of lost or mislaid property, a petty offense, not criminal in nature.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    Yes, if you know, or knew, the property was stolen, then you can be prosecuted for "theft by receiving stolen property".
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    A person who knowingly possesses stolen property is presumed to possess it with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof. You are entitled to rebut this presumption by presenting evidence that you did not know or could not have known that the property was stolen. It is not a defense to say that you did not know who the true owner was especially if you knew the owner was not yourself.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    As long as they can prove you knew it was stolen you can be convicted.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    If you possessed property which you should have known was stolen you can be arrested. The police don't have to show actual knowledge of stolen property but they would have to show that the property was stolen and that a reasonable person possessing that property under the circumstances should have known it was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Maybe. The test is: Knew or should have known the property was stolen. Where it came from isn't the only question. Did you know or should you have known it was stolen? Was it too good to be true (that the item or property was being sold for a price that indicated by itself that there was something wrong with this transaction or were there any other indicators to suggest something was wrong)?
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    Yes. You only have to be aware that it is stolen, not who from.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco | Victor J Mazzaraco
    Yes, it is possible to be arrested for receiving stolen property even when you do not know where the property actually came from. The issue turns on how discoverable the owner of the property's identity was - a bicycle lying in front of a child's home with his name and address on a label on the bike goes a long way toward identifying ownership. Taking that bike and saying "i didn't know who owned it..." won't cut it because of the strong indicia of ownership associated with that bike...on the other hand, something lying in the idle of an abandoned lot without any labels or notices on it stating or hinting who owns it or where to return it is a different story. So each case turns on its individual facts and the stronger the indications of who the true owner of the property was the better the chance of being charged with receiving stolen property.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    To be charged you must know or have reason to know the property is stolen.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    If the property is stolen, even if you did not know it, it is possible you can be charged with the theft. (In fact, you could be charged with burglary if it was taken in a burglary and certain facts exist.) Since you didn't give a lot of information, here is some quotes from cases that might shed some light on your situation. Evidence of unexplained possession of recently stolen property may nonetheless be a circumstance to be considered in a sufficiency analysis.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/14/2011
    Law Office of Craig E. Gibbs
    Law Office of Craig E. Gibbs | Craig Gibbs
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Are you being charged with receiving stolen property? or stealing stolen property?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/3/2013
    Law Offices of Sean Logue
    Law Offices of Sean Logue | Sean Logue
    You can be arrested; proving the case against you is another story.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Vasilkovs Law Office | Donna Vasilkovs
    Yes, the source is irrelevant. If you are in possession of property that you do not in fact know is stolen but for which a REASONABLE PERSON IN YOUR POSITION WOULD SUSPECT IS HOT, you can be charged regardless of whether you kn ow its origins. However, there is a defense of unwitting possession. Ask your attorney about that defense.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    The standard is that you either knew or had reason to know the property was stolen. It is what a reasonable person in your situation would have known.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    You can be charged but knowledge is an element of the crime. If you did not know it was stolen and there was nothing about the item or transaction that would alert a reasonable person that it likely is stolen, the case against you fails.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    DeVito & Visconti, PA
    DeVito & Visconti, PA | John E DeVito
    In Massachusetts you can be charged with Receiving Stolen Property if you possess property which was stolen. You do not have to know where the property came from, you just have to know it was stolen or probably stolen. In other words if you know property is stolen and you chose to keep it then you can be arrested. If someone sells you a Rolex watch for $100 and you know it is worth $8000, you can guess that it was probably stolen. Again you could be arrested and yes there is a case.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    Anyone can be arrested and charged with any crime. The question is can the prosecutor prove the case. Usually the prosecutor will use circumstantial evidence to prove or will fail to prove that you knew that the item was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    Impossible say for sure without more info. If you possessed stolen property and you should have known that it was stolen, you're guilty even if you didn't know specifically where it was stolen from.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Yes, and yes. I do not need to know where the 2010 Porsche 911 turbo came from, I only need to know if the ignition is punched or the price tag is $ 25,000. I don't need to know anything about the stolen property. You can be arrested, and the rest your attorney (hopefully you will retain one) will argue to the prosecutor or a jury.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    No. They have to prove you knew it was stolen although you don't need to know where it was stolen from.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo
    Law Offices of Matthew Murillo | Matthew Murillo
    If you know it's stolen, it doesn't matter where it came from or whether you know where it came from.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    Yes. The da only has to show that you knew or should have known that the property was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq.
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq. | Stephanie Lee Ehrbright
    If they know you have property and that it is in fact stolen then there is probably enough Probable Cause to arrest you. Having enough evidence to convict you beyond a reasonable doubt is another story though.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
    Knowing where it came from is not the issue. You would have to have knowledge it was stolen or that you should have known it was stolen to be convicted of receiving stolen property. Knowing where is came from is not necessarily important.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    If you are in possession of property that is in fact stolen and you knew (or reasonably should have known) that it was stolen, yes, you can be arrested. Do they have enough to convict you? There's no way to know that without seeing all the reports and evidence against you. Bottom line? You need a criminal defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi | Elliott Zarabi
    Yes, it is called receiving stolen property. They would to prove that you knew or should have known that the property was stolen and that the property was actually stolen. And that you received the property knowing the previous and that you has no intent to give the property back.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Offices of Paula Drake
    Law Offices of Paula Drake | Paula Drake
    The issue is whether or not you knew the property was stolen. It is possible to know it was stolen, but not have been told where it was stolen from. Again, the issue is that you knowingly received the property with the knowledge that it was stolen.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Technically no, because there would be a lack of criminal intent. However, who would believe you? You need to begin shopping for a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/11/2011
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