Did you know you can be charged with theft even if you didn’t steal something yourself? If you knowingly purchase, obtain or receive any property you know or should know is stolen and you intend to keep it, you are guilty of this crime.
Let’s break this down. Let’s say you’re trying to buy a diamond ring and you find one for a really great price on Craigslist. When you meet up with the person selling it and they tell you they had stolen it, it would be receipt of stolen property if you bought the ring.
Picturing the same scenario, you could still be charged with this crime if you bought the ring without any documentation that it had been purchased. In this case, it was that you should have known it was stolen.
In other words, you bought the ring under circumstances that should have alerted any “reasonable person” to the fact that it had been stolen.
Reasonable Person Standard
The reasonable person standard is what a prosecutor has to show to prove that you should have known the item was stolen. It says that if the average person in the same situation would have been suspicious, you are guilty of the crime. It’s not a defense to say that you were naive.
However, if there was no reasonable way for you to have known – let’s say you bought the ring at a jewelry counter, but it was actually stolen – you could not be found guilty. There was no reasonable way for you to have known it was a stolen item.
Possession of Stolen Property
In order to convict you, prosecutors must prove that you knew the stolen property was in your possession. If you found a diamond ring in the pocket of a coat you purchased at a yard sale, you aren’t guilty of receipt of stolen property as long as you return it to its owner or hand it over to the police.
You knowingly purchased the coat, but did not know the ring was in the pocket.
However, let’s say you told a friend to put the stolen ring into a coat pocket at a yard sale and then had another person pick it up for payment.
That would be considered possession of stolen property even though you never actually had it in your hands. If you’ve exercised control over it, you’ve possessed it, according to the law.
Penalties for Receipt of Stolen Property
Property crimes are penalized by the value of the property stolen and are categorized as misdemeanors or felonies accordingly.
If the value is less than $200
The crime is considered a misdemeanor and the penalty is up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater
If the value is over $200 but less than $1,000, or if the value is less than $200 but the defendant has one or more prior convictions.
The crime is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of $2,000 or three times the value, whichever is greater.
If the value is at least $1,000 but less than $20,000 or is $200-$1,000 and the defendant has one or more prior convictions
The crime is a felony and the penalty is up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.
If the value of the property is $20,000 or more or is between $1,000 and $20,000 and the defendant has two or more prior convictions
The crime is a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $15,000 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.
Experienced Criminal Attorney in the Detroit Area
If you are charged with possession or receipt of stolen property, it is a serious offense even if you didn’t commit the theft yourself.
You need to have an experienced local attorney on your side. If you are in the Detroit area and you have questions, please give us a call today.