Riverside County courthouse, Riverside, California
Defending and Protecting since 2004

Receiving Stolen Property

To be guilty of a violation of PC496(a), Receiving Stolen Property, the People must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant received property that had been stolen;
  2. AND

  3. When the defendant received the property, he knew that the property had been stolen;
  4. AND

  5. The defendant actually knew of the presence of the property. CalCrim 1750

The following are a couple of examples of possible defenses to a charge of PC496(a), Receiving Stolen Property:

1.The defendant didn't know the property was stolen.

Assume the following facts:

Sally and Tom are neighbors. One day Sally asked Tom if he wanted to buy a wrist watch that Sally said was given to her as a gift. In fact, Sally had recently stolen the watch from a nearby merchant. Tom DID NOT KNOW the watch was stolen. Further, it was known by both Tom and Sally that the watch Sally offered to sell Tom had a retail value of around $100. Sally offered to sell it to Tom for $70. The watch had no wear on it and was still in the box. Tom accepted the offer and paid $70 for the watch. A couple days later while Tom was home watching Cops on TV, he got a knock at his front door. Tom opened the door and was shocked to see two police officers. The two police officers arrested Tom and hauled him off to jail. Tom was charged with PC496(a), Receiving Stolen Property.

Here, Tom would not be guilty of Receiving Stolen Property. To be guilty of this crime, Tom MUST HAVE ACTUALLY KNOWN that the watch was stolen. Even though the watch was brand new, in the box, and was sold for $70 with a retail price of $100, Tom would not be guilty of Receiving Stolen Property because he DID NOT KNOW the watch was stolen when he bought and received it.

2.The defendant did not know of the presence of the property.

Assume the following facts:

Sally and Tom are married. The two often work together to commit various theft crimes. On this day, Tom decided on his own to go steal a cellphone from a nearby phone store. After he stole the cell phone he returned home and placed it in his backpack. Sally DID NOT KNOW that Tom stole the cell phone and DID NOT KNOW that Tom placed it in his backpack.

A few hours later, Sally and Tom decided to leave their home and walk to the park. Tom took his backpack. During the walk to the park, Tom got tired and asked Sally to carry his backpack. Not knowing that the stolen cell phone was in the backpack, Sally agreed to carry the backpack for Tom. Just before they arrived at the park, the two were stopped by police officers. The backpack was ultimately searched and the stolen cell phone found. Sally was charged with PC496(a), Receiving Stolen Property.

Sally would not be guilty of Receiving Stolen Property. To be guilty of this charge a person must know of the presence of the stolen item(s). Here, Sally DID NOT KNOW that the stolen cell phone was in the backpack (she also of course did not know it was stolen either). Because Sally DID NOT KNOW that the cell phone was inside the backpack, she can not be guilty of Receiving Stolen Property.