Help! I Bought Something I Did Not Know Was Stolen and Now I Am Facing Criminal Charges
Everybody knows that stealing is against the law. But what many people do not know, and are often surprised to learn only after criminal charges have been brought against them, is that buying something that was stolen is also against the law. This is also true if the stolen item was given to you as a gift or a loan. Receipt, possession, or purchase of stolen property is illegal - if you knew (or should have known) that the item was stolen.
Unfortunately, sometimes people accidentally purchase or are given things they did not know were stolen. If this has happened to you, it is important to secure the help of a Texas criminal defense attorney right away so you are not punished for receipt of stolen property.
How Can the Prosecutor Say I “Should Have Known” the Property Was Stolen?
The law against receipt of stolen property applies even if you did not know the thing you bought was stolen - as long as the prosecution can prove that you should have known. How is it possible to read someone’s mind and tell whether they should have known? We can look at a classic example of such a situation to get a better idea.
Sometimes, trucks with loads of electronic goods are stolen and then the contents are sold privately. If someone is selling brand new electronics out of the back of a truck or the trunk of their car, the price is unusually low, and the items are still in their unopened original packaging, a prosecutor could probably successfully argue that a reasonable person would have assumed the electronics were stolen.
If you purchase an item not knowing it was stolen and later find out, you can still be charged with possession of stolen property if you do not immediately take action to return the property to its rightful owner or the police.
What Are the Consequences for a Conviction of Possessing Stolen Property?
The punishment for knowingly possessing stolen property is similar to the punishment for actually stealing the same property. The exact punishment depends on how much the property is worth. For example:
- Possessing stolen property worth less than $100 is a Class C misdemeanor with up to $500 in fines.
- Possessing stolen property worth between $2,500 and $30,000 is a state jail felony, including two years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Possessing stolen property worth more than $300,000 is a first-degree felony and can carry a penalty of life imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
Call a Tarrant County Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges because you accidentally committed a crime can be an unpleasant affair. At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we believe no one should be punished for a crime they did not commit - that is why we fight passionately to give every client the best defense possible. Call us today at 214-303-9600 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Tarrant County criminal defense lawyers.