Receiving Stolen Property


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The crime of receiving stolen property is defined as knowingly receiving stolen property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property of its possession.

In order for a defendant to be convicted, the property that the defendant receives must be stolen. If it is not stolen, the defendant has not committed this crime and can not be convicted.

In addition, the property must actually be received by the defendant. However, this does not mean that the defendant must exercise personal possession over the property. The defendant can be convicted even if he only indirectly exercises control over the property. For example:

Marco has stolen $250,000 from the First National Bank of Venice. Marco calls his friend Polo and asks if can hide the money in Polo’s basement. Polo agrees. In this case, Polo can be convicted of receiving stolen property because, even though he does not actually exercise personal possession of the money, by consenting to let Marco hide the money in his house, Polo has indirectly exercised control over it. See LeFanti v. United States, 259 F. 460 (3d Cir. 1919).

Additionally, the defendant must know that the goods he is receiving are stolen. If he does not know that they are stolen he can not be convicted. Please note that the defendant does not need to have first hand knowledge that the goods are stolen in order to be convicted. In fact, the prosecution can obtain a conviction if it can show, through circumstantial evidence, that the defendant knew the goods were stolen. For example:

Polo is charged with receiving several pieces of stolen jewelry. Polo claims that they were given to him as gifts by his friend Marco. If the prosecution can show that Marco was a reputed jewel thief, and that Polo knew that Marco was a reputed jewel thief, this may be enough to show that Polo knew that the jewelry was stolen. Thus, there is enough evidence to sustain a conviction for receiving stolen property.

Finally, the prosecution must show that the defendant acted with the intent of permanently depriving the victim of his goods in order to sustain a conviction.