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The National Trial Lawyers
Greater Lowell Bar Association

Receiving Stolen Property

If you are found guilty of receiving stolen property, there is a possibility the judge will sentence you to prison.

Elements of Receiving Stolen Property

To obtain a conviction against a defendant for 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 involves challenging the defendant’s state of mind. The Commonwealth needs to prove 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 needed to have known he or she was 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 havens 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.

Receiving stolen property is a relatively serious crime and is often classified as a felony.  It is also a crime that ordinarily has legitimate defenses.  In order to advance these defenses, however, a defendant needs to be represented by an aggressive, experienced criminal attorney.  Attorney Chris Spring is a former prosecutor.  He has argued in front of the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court.  He has tried cases in front of juries in superior court and district court, and he has argued cases in nearly every courthouse in Eastern Massachusetts.  Attorney Spring is prepared to give you the defense you deserve.  He will travel to your home, review the case documents, and tell you how he would go about defending you in court.  You should call him for a free consultation. 

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