Receiving Stolen Property | PC 496(a)

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Los Angeles Receiving Stolen Property Defense | LA Theft Crime Attorneys

Theft crimes account for the majority of criminal offenses in Los Angeles because of how broad this category of crime is. Offenses such as shoplifting, grand theft, and burglary are obvious examples of theft crimes. However, not all theft crimes require prosecutors to prove you had any involvement in the theft itself. This would be the case if you were charged with one of the most common theft crimes in LA -Receiving Stolen Property. Defined under California Penal Code section 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 is guilty of Receiving Stolen Property.

Can You Go To Jail for Buying Stolen Goods Without Knowing?

While knowingly buying stolen items is a criminal offense under PC 496(a), unknowingly doing so is not punishable by law. California’s receiving stolen property law specifically relates to receiving, buying, selling, or concealing any property that you know to be stolen. As soon as you discover or suspect that you have purchased illegally obtained items, you should contact the police. Once you’ve handed the item in, contact the seller and ask them for a refund. The police will attempt to return the goods to their rightful owner.

What Are Some Examples of PC 496(a)?

We’ve outlined some examples below to help you understand how penal code 496(a) works:

  • If you buy a TV from your friend and know they obtained it illegally, you could be liable to face receiving stolen property charges. You might be charged with a felony conviction or misdemeanor conviction depending on the value of the item and your criminal history.
  • Say you find a laptop online, meet the seller and buy it for a great price after he tells you he’s purchased a new model. Then, you discover it was stolen, after the point of purchase. In this instance, the seller has committed a criminal act and moral turpitude, but it’s unlikely that you would be charged with a crime.

What Is Retaining Stolen Property?

Retaining stolen property falls under the same law as receiving stolen property, but relates to holding stolen goods on behalf of another person. This could relate to an item that is directly in your possession or an item you’re considered to be in constructive possession of. In other words, if you knowingly keep a stolen TV for your friend, but you’re not actually carrying it on your person, you could still face criminal charges.

Is Receiving Stolen Property A Felony Or Misdemeanor?

PC 496(a) is considered a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on aggravating factors such as your prior criminal history and whether the value of the stolen property you are accused of receiving or possessing exceeds $950. The severity of punishment can vary, with the most punitive sentences applied to Felony PC 496(a) convictions. However, the guidance and quality legal representation from an experienced Los Angeles Receiving Stolen Property attorney can improve your odds of obtaining plea agreements which can either reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor Receiving Stolen Property, or non-theft related misdemeanor such as Disturbing the Peace. Also, if you qualify, plea agreements resulting in a dismissal of charges can be attained by way of diversionary sentences or deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) through negotiations with judges and prosecutors.

How Much Stolen Goods is a Felony in California?

A charge of felony theft, also known as grand theft, can be issued if the stolen property’s value is more than $950. In the case of a felony charge, an individual might face up to three years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. If you need our help, the criminal defense attorneys at Former District Attorneys will hear your side of the story, gather all evidence and aggressively fight for the best possible outcome. By proving reasonable doubt, it’s possible to avoid lengthy sentences and hefty fines.

What Are The California Penalties For Receiving Stolen Property?

Los Angeles prosecutors and law enforcement take theft crimes extremely seriously, and the impact of a conviction can extend beyond the immediate fines, restitution, and potential incarceration. The following are the possible penalties you face if charged with a Felony PC 496(a):

  • Up to 3 years in state prison
  • Formal (supervised) probation
  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • Victim restitution
  • Community service or labor
  • Felony criminal record

as a Misdemeanor:

  • Up to 1 year in LA County Jail
  • Summary (unsupervised) probation
  • Up to $1,000 fine
  • Victim restitution
  • Community service or labor
  • Misdemeanor criminal record

Los Angeles Receiving Stolen Property Defense Attorneys Since 1987

For almost 3 decades, we have specialized in defending theft crimes in each of the criminal courts within the LA Superior Court system and throughout Southern California. Criminal attorneys Eugene Hanrahan and Stephen Sitkoff have each practiced criminal law for over 30 years as former senior prosecutors with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and since 1987, LA criminal and theft crimes defense lawyers. If you were recently arrested for a Felony or Misdemeanor Receiving Stolen Property, or suspect you may be the target of a police investigation, please call us now at (888) 579-4844 for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and options, or to schedule an appointment at our main office in West Los Angeles. For our clients’ convenience, we also maintain satellite locations in Torrance, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, West Covina, Oxnard, Westlake Village, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Orange, and Corona.

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