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Could you face charges over a secondhand purchase or a gift?

You won’t obtain everything that you own directly from a retail store or buy it brand-new. Sometimes, you will receive valuable items as gifts from your loved ones, including on holidays and your birthday. Other times, you might purchase something that someone else already used to save money.

Unfortunately, while gifts and second-hand purchasing can be a great way to expand your personal holdings with less financial investment, these methods of acquisition have certain risks as well. Specifically, you may not know the real origins of the used items that you receive as gifts or buy from a stranger. That lack of background information could lead to you facing criminal charges.

Colorado has laws against possessing or selling stolen property

It is not just illegal to physically steal an asset from someone else or from a business. It is also illegal for you to possess property that someone stole from another person or a company. Possessing or reselling stolen goods can lead to criminal charges that carry penalties much like actual theft charges.

If that phone that you purchased off of a popular second-hand app or the designer watch that you received from your usually broke brother for Christmas turns out to be someone else’s stolen property, you could face criminal charges even though you didn’t steal the item.

If prosecutors can claim that you should have reasonably known the item was stolen from someone else, they can charge you with a crime without ever proving that you played a role in its theft. 

The charges you face are in addition to losing the stolen property

Colorado law allows those who lose their property through theft to recover those assets from someone else. In other words, if you get caught possessing something that technically belongs to another person, Colorado law requires that you return that property to the real owner, even if you paid for it.

You could also then find yourself facing more losses related to criminal charges and the impact those charges might have on your professional life. Understanding when you might be at risk of charges over the possession of stolen goods can help you defend yourself or make better purchasing decisions.