Receiving Stolen Property

Receiving stolen property is a serious crime that carries the possibility of a state prison sentence upon conviction.

Elements of Receiving Stolen Property

In order to convict a defendant of receiving stolen property, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The property in question was stolen;
  2. The defendant knew the property was stolen; and
  3. The defendant knowingly had the stolen property in his or her possession.

The potential punishment for receiving stolen property depends upon the value of the allegedly stolen property.

Common Defenses and Defense Strategies

Receiving stolen property cases can be defended in a variety of ways.

  • Defendant’s State of Mind – The most common and successful defense to receiving stolen property is challenging the defendant’s state of mind. The Commonwealth needs to prove that the defendant knew the property was stolen. If the Commonwealth fails to prove, either by direct or circumstantial evidence, that the defendant knew the property was stolen, the defendant cannot be convicted of receiving stolen property. Also, the defendant needs to know he or she is in possession of the property. If stolen property is found in the trunk of a car, the police will sometimes charge all of the occupants of the car with this crime. With that fact pattern, it becomes difficult for the Commonwealth to pin blame on every person who happened to be riding in the car.
  • Pawn Shop Cases – Pawn shops are a haven for the transfer of stolen property. Police officers often find stolen property in pawn shops and then rely on the pawn shop owners to identify the seller and the details of the transaction. Even if the defendant is identified by the pawn shop owner, it’s often a struggle for the Commonwealth to put together a case because the pawn shop is usually reluctant to participate in the prosecution.
  • Motions to Suppress – In many cases, the allegedly stolen property will be recovered by the police during the search of a suspect’s pockets, bag, or the trunk of the suspect’s car. These searches are very rarely conducted pursuant to a search warrant. Anytime the police engage in what appears to be an unconstitutional search, Attorney Spring will file a motion to suppress all of the evidence that was illegally recovered by the police.

Given the serious consequences that result from a conviction for receiving stolen property, you should hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney who has experience in litigating these types of cases. Attorney Chris Spring prosecuted these cases earlier in his career when he served as an assistant district attorney and since becoming a defense attorney, he has successfully defended individuals charged with this type of case. Having tried more than 150 cases before Massachusetts juries in both district and superior court, Attorney Spring has the necessary experience to guide you through the criminal justice system and present your side of the story to a jury. As with any crime, you should never speak to the police before first consulting with a criminal defense attorney to explore all of your options.

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