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California Penal Code Section 496(a) PC – Receiving Stolen Property

California Penal Code Section 496(a) PC – Receiving Stolen Property

California Penal Code Section 496(a) PC makes it a crime for an individual to knowingly receive, buy, sell, or take property that was stolen from another person. This crime is a wobbler, meaning the prosecution can either charge it as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen property. If you have been charged with violating Penal Code Section 496(a) PC, you should not take receiving stolen property charges lightly as a conviction can carry some serious prison time.

So, if you have been charged with it, you should immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles Theft Attorney at The H Law Group to represent you and fight for you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of California Penal Code Section 496(a) PC

According to California Penal Code Section 496(a) PC, “Every person who buys or receives any property that has been stolen or that has been obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, or who conceals, sells, withholds, or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding any property from the owner, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

However, if the value of the property does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), the offense shall be a misdemeanor, punishable only by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, if such person has no prior convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 290.”

Summary of the law: Under this code section, any person who knowingly takes, receives, buys, or sells stolen property is guilty of a misdemeanor. For example, if you buy a TV from your friend and you know that the TV was stolen, you can be charged with and convicted of receiving stolen property under CPC Section 496(a).

Proving an Individual Guilty of Violating Penal Code Section 496(a)

For the prosecution to convict an individual of violating CPC Section 496(a), the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution does not prove any of the following elements, it cannot convict the defendant guilty of receiving stolen property. The prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant guilty of receiving stolen property:

  • The defendant received, took, purchased, sold, or concealed
  • Property that was stolen from another person, and
  • The defendant knew that the property was stolen from another person

Note: If a person receives, purchases, or takes several pieces of stolen property on one occasion, he cannot be convicted of receiving stolen property for each item that was stolen. The prosecution can only charge and convict him of one offense of receiving stolen property. Also, if the defendant steals something, the prosecution cannot convict him of theft and receiving stolen property. The prosecution must choose one charge to convict the defendant of and prosecute him for.

Examples of Receiving Stolen Property Under California Penal Code Section 496(a)

A man steals a $5000 TV from a local electronics store and offers it to his friend for $150. The friend accepts and buys the TV suspecting that the TV was probably stolen or obtained illegally. The friend can be charged with receiving stolen property if the prosecution can show that he knew it was obtained illegally. The low prices of the TV will assist the prosecution in convicting the friend of receiving stolen property because it is way less than what the TV was worth, which should have raised from serious red flags for the friend.

A man robs a bank and contacts a close friend to hide the cash at his place. The friend agrees to allow the robber to hide his cash at his place. The police later find the case. The friend who allowed the robber to hide the cash at his place can be convicted receiving stolen property because he assisted his friend in concealing stolen property, which is something that CPC Section 496(a) punishes.

A man needs a cellphone, so he goes on eBay and finds a used cell phone for sale. Unbeknownst to the man, the phone is stolen. The man buys the cell phone and begins using it. So long as the man did not know that the phone was stolen and nothing raised any red flags, the prosecution cannot convict him of receiving stolen property because for the prosecution to convict an individual of receiving stolen property, it must prove that the defendant knew that the property he received, purchased, or sold was stolen.

Penalties for Those Convicted of Receiving Stolen Property

If the prosecution convicts an individual of receiving stolen property, an individual faces the following potential penalties:

  • Conviction of misdemeanor receiving stolen property (Up to one year in jail)
  • Conviction of felony receiving stolen property (Up to three years in California State Prison – Terms: 16 months, two years, or three years)
  • If convicted of a felony, an individual can be placed on formal probation
  • If convicted of a misdemeanor, an individual might be placed on informal probation

Defenses for Those Charged with Receiving Stolen Property Under Section 496(a) PC

If you have been charged with receiving stolen property, there are a number of defenses that can be used by your attorney to defend. The list of defenses we are about to prove is not exhaustive of all the defenses that your attorney can use, but rather, some of the most commonly used defenses. To know which defenses, apply to your case, you should contact an experienced Los Angeles Theft Attorney at The H Law Group to look over the facts of your case to find the best possible defenses. Here are some of the best defenses for receiving stolen property:

  • The defendant did not know that the property was stolen
  • The defendant never received stolen property
  • The defendant is a victim of mistaken identity

The best defense to a charge of receiving stolen property is that the defendant did not know the property was stolen. As part of its case, the prosecution must show that the defendant knew that the property he received or purchased was stolen. If the defendant had an honest and reasonable belief that the property he received was not stolen, the prosecution will have a difficult time proving him guilty of receiving stolen property.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Theft Attorney

If you have been charged with receiving stolen property, you should immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles Theft Attorney at The H Law Group to defend you. Receiving stolen property can result in three years of imprisonment in a California State Prison, so to ensure that you have the best representation possible, contact an experienced theft attorney at The H Law Group to defend you.

At the outset of every case, one of our theft lawyers will look over the facts of your case to determine whether a dismissal is possible. If an attorney determines that a dismissal is possible, he will communicate this to the prosecution. If the prosecution refuses to dismiss your case, our attorneys will do everything possible to negotiate the best possible plea deal for you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.