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Possessing stolen property: What to do if you get caught

It is against the law to possess stolen property, but not everyone knows that they are in possession of something that someone else is looking for. Unfortunately, the penalties for possessing something that has been stolen could be as serious as 15 years of probation to 15 years in prison. You could also face up to $10,000 in fines. In some significant cases, penalties may increase even further, and you could end up imprisoned for 30 years.

The catch with this charge is that the prosecution has to prove that you knew you had the stolen property and that you knew it was stolen. If you knew or should have known that the property was stolen, then you could be found guilty.

You have the right to a defense against the charges

You can defend yourself against the charges. Some common defenses that might be used include:

  • Possessing property that appears to be the stolen item but that is not
  • Mistake identity
  • Lack of knowledge about the origin of the item
  • Not having the intention to sell or resell the property
  • Showing that the “victim” made a false claim about owning the property
  • Believing that you were given permission to use the property

It’s important that you have an opportunity to defend yourself, because these kinds of cases aren’t black and white. There are often misunderstandings and miscommunications that lead to accusations of theft and wrongdoing, but you shouldn’t have to suffer as a result of those errors.

What do you need to do if you’re accused of possessing stolen property?

If you’re accused of possessing stolen property, you have the opportunity to defend yourself. You should collect your own evidence to show that you did not know about the property or had a right to use it. With the right support, you can build a strong defend to fight the charges and clear your name. Even if that isn’t possible, there may be opportunities to reduce the penalties and help you move forward.

Every case is different. Get to know your rights, so you can determine the best way to handle your case.