Criminal Liability for Stealing & Receiving Stolen Property

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jul 23, 2009 | 0 Comments

California Penal Code 496 defines Receiving Stolen Property as purchasing or otherwise taking possession of items you know to be stolen. As a general rule under California laws for receiving stolen property, this means someone else actually stole the goods and you subsequently received them. The original thief received stolen goods too when he stole them but he can't be charged with both the original theft and receiving stolen property. Otherwise Penal Code 496 could tag along with practically any theft charge.

However, California law allows one exception. This happens when a person steals an automobile and is later caught driving it. Under the case of People v Garza (35 Cal. 4th 866), this person can be charged with both Receiving Stolen Property and California automobile theft under Vehicle Code 10851.

The key is that for the state to add the PC 496 charge, it must be “post-theft driving.” This means the person wasn't simply driving the car away from the place it was stolen (otherwise this would be part of the theft itself). But the courts have not clarified how much time must pass for the post-theft exception to apply. If the thief is caught driving the car several days later, it clearly would. But if just a few minutes, or an hour, or a few hours have passed, the law is not so clear.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Regain peace of mind...

Our defense attorneys understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most difficult times of your life. Rely on us to zealously and discreetly protect your rights and to fight for the most favorable resolution possible.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370