Receiving Stolen Property
California Penal Code 496 PC

California's receiving stolen property law, Penal Code 496, imposes harsh criminal penalties on people who

  • buy,
  • receive,
  • conceal,
  • sell, or
  • withhold from the owner,

any property that they know has been stolen.1

“Stolen property” means property that has been stolen in any way—through California grand theft or petty theft, and also through California embezzlement or Penal Code 518 extortion.2

Examples

Here are some examples of people who could be prosecuted for receiving stolen property in California:

  • A woman helps her boyfriend hide some money that he has recently stolen in a robbery of a convenient store, knowing that that is where the money came from.
  • A man who makes a living selling and re-selling used electronics on eBay buys a large number of stolen computers with their serial numbers missing, without asking the seller where he obtained them.
  • A woman is caught driving a stolen car; the police suspect she may have stolen the car herself, but they don't have enough evidence to prove that, so they charge her with receiving stolen property instead.
Stolen_20computer

Penalties

The California crime of receiving stolen property may be charged as either a California misdemeanor or a California felony.3

Potential misdemeanor penalties under PC 496 include up to one (1) year in county jail, and/or a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).4

And for receiving stolen property charged as a felony, penalties include sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years in prison, and/or a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).5

Legal defenses

As you can see, California law takes receiving stolen property as seriously as any California theft crime . In many cases, you could be punished as harshly for receiving stolen property as for stealing it in the first place!6

Fortunately, there are a number of common legal defenses that you may be able to use to fight Penal Code 496 charges. These include:

  • You didn't know that the property was stolen;
  • You didn't know that you possessed the stolen property;
  • You intended to return the property to its owner or the police when you acquired it (this is known as the “innocent intent” defense to receiving stolen property charges7); and
  • The legal defense of voluntary intoxication—which may help show that you did not have the necessary intent to be convicted of this crime.8
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The legal defense of "voluntary intoxication" can be used to fight receiving stolen property charges.

In order to help you better understand the crime of receiving stolen property in California, our California theft crimes defense attorneys will address the following:

1. The Legal Definition of California Receiving Stolen Property

1.1. Receiving stolen property for certain business owners
1.2. Receiving multiple pieces of stolen property

2. Penalties for Penal Code 496 Receiving Stolen Property

2.1. Immigration consequences of a PC 496 conviction

3. Legal Defenses to Receiving Stolen Property Charges

4. PC 496 and Related Offenses

4.1. Penal Code 487 & 488 grand theft / petty theft
4.2. Penal Code 503 embezzlement
4.3. Penal Code 518 extortion
4.4. Penal Code 485 theft/appropriation of lost property

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on California Grand Theft Law Penal Code 487 PC; California Petty Theft Law Penal Code 484 & 488 PC; California Embezzlement Laws Penal Code 503 PC; Penal Code 518 Extortion; California Robbery Penal Code 211 PC; Legal Definition of a California Misdemeanor; Legal Definition of a California Felony; Common Legal Defenses to California Crimes; California Theft Crimes; The California Legal Defenses of Voluntary Intoxication and Involuntary Intoxication; California Burglary Laws Penal Code 459 PC; Legal Definition of a Wobbler in California Law; Misdemeanor (Summary) Probation in California Criminal Law; Felony (Formal) Probation in California Law; Immigration Consequences of a California Criminal Conviction; “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” in California Criminal Law; Mistaken Eyewitness Evidence and California Law; and Penal Code 485 PC Theft/Appropriation of Lost Property.

1. The Legal Definition of California Receiving Stolen Property

The legal definition of receiving stolen property in California revolves around three “elements of the crime.” These are facts that the prosecutor must prove—beyond a reasonable doubt—for you to be guilty of this offense.

The elements of receiving stolen property are:

  1. You bought, received, sold, aided in selling, concealed or withheld from the owner, or aided in concealing or withholding from the owner property that had been stolen or obtained by extortion;
  2. When you did so, you knew that the property had been stolen or obtained by extortion; and
  3. You actually knew of the presence of the property9

Let's look more closely into some of the terms in this legal definition.

To “receive” property

Buying, selling, concealing, and withholding are fairly straightforward terms—but what about “receiving”?

Simply put, you “receive” property when you take possession or control of it.10

Rsp_jewelry
Knowingly buying stolen jewelry can lead to charges under California Penal Code 496.

You don't have to be the sole possessor of it—two or more people can be considered to possess property at the same time.11

Also, you can “possess” property without actually physically possessing it. The concept of “constructive possession” basically says that you are considered to possess property if you have control over it or the right to control it.12

Example: Ross steals some valuable silverware from a private home and then takes it to Al's house. He offers Al several hundred dollars if Al will let him bury the silverware in Al's backyard to hide it.

Al agrees. So Ross buries the silverware in the backyard. At no point does Al physically touch or even see the silverware.

But Al is still guilty of receiving stolen property. Because the silverware was buried in his backyard, he is considered to have had control over it.13

Example: Jerry's friend Pete comes to pick him up in a new car; Pete tells Jerry that he has just stolen the car. Jerry gets in the car, and he and Pete drive off together. They drink, use drugs, and eventually drive to a convenient store where they commit a robbery.

Jerry is charged with—and convicted of—Penal Code 496 receiving stolen property for riding in Pete's car with him.

Just being a passenger in a stolen vehicle is probably not enough to support these charges. But Jerry is considered to have “possessed” the car in this case because he benefited from it (by using it for recreational and criminal purposes) and because he had multiple opportunities to exit the car but chose not to.14

Rsp_car_20theft
Depending on the circumstances, riding in a car someone else stole may make you guilty of receiving stolen property.

Stolen or obtained by extortion

Property is considered to be “stolen” if it was obtained by any of the following:

  1. Theft (grand or petty), including larceny, embezzlement, false pretense or trick,
  2. Burglary , and/or
  3. Robbery.15

Example: Thelma is the bookkeeper for a small home remodeling company. Over a period of several years, she embezzles thousands of dollars from her employer by creating false receipts for business expenses.

Thelma's husband Max knows about her embezzlement. He doesn't help her with it, but he does take the money she obtains this way, moves it among their personal bank accounts, and uses it to pay their household bills.

Max may be guilty of receiving stolen property for receiving the funds that Thelma obtained by embezzlement.

Embezzlement_briefcase
Property obtained by embezzlement can be the basis for receiving stolen property charges.

Property is considered to be obtained by “extortion” if both of the following are true:

  1. The property was obtained from another person with that person's consent, AND
  2. That person's consent was obtained through the use of force or fear.16

Knew that the property was stolen or had been obtained by extortion

You are not guilty of the California offense of receiving stolen property unless you actually knew that the property was stolen.17 (There are a few exceptions to this requirement, which are discussed in Section 1.1 below.)

Example: Wei is from China. She has just arrived in Los Angeles to enroll in graduate school.

Wei needs a car and purchases one from a man who advertised the car for sale on Craigslist. He sells her the car—a late-model used BMW—for the “too good to be true” price of five thousand dollars. It turns out that the car is stolen, and the man who sold it to Wei is the thief.

But Wei is probably not guilty of receiving stolen property. She was unfamiliar with the used-car market in America and in all likelihood did not know the car was stolen.

Knew that the property was in your possession

This element—that you knew the property was in your possession—comes up in a subset of receiving stolen property cases in which the defendant claims not to have known s/he possessed the property.18

For example, a thief might have planted stolen money, drugs, or personal property in the defendant's pocket, purse, house, or car—in order to conceal their own role in the theft.

1.1. Receiving stolen property for certain business owners

Certain categories of business owners can be convicted of PC 496 receiving stolen property even if the prosecutor can't prove that they actually knew the property was stolen.

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Swap meet vendors must take special steps to make sure they don't get hit with charges under Penal Code 496 PC.

Specifically, swap meet vendors and people whose primary business is dealing with or collecting merchandise or personal property can be convicted of receiving stolen property if:

  1. They acquired the property under circumstances that should have caused them to make a reasonable inquiry into whether the person selling the property had the legal right to sell it (in other words, if there was any reason at all to suspect the property was stolen); AND
  2. They failed to make such a reasonable inquiry.19

Also, certain other classes of business owners can be convicted of receiving stolen property if they purchase certain items without using due diligence to ascertain whether the person selling it has the legal right to do so—whether there are suspicious circumstances or not.

These include:

  1. Dealers in or collectors of junk, metals, or secondhand materials, who are buying wire, cable, copper, lead, solder, mercury, iron, or brass of a sort usually used by a public utility;20 and
  2. Second-hand bookdealers who buy any book or other material that bears any sign that it belongs to a public library or university.21
1.2. Receiving multiple pieces of stolen property

If you receive multiple items of stolen property on one occasion, you will face only one charge of receiving stolen property.22

BUT, for each occasion when you receive stolen property, you will face a separate count under Penal Code 496 PC.

Rsp_cash_20for_20gold

Example: Janice is the manager of a “cash for gold” store.

One day a scruffy-looking man, who appears to be under the influence of drugs and possibly homeless, comes into Janice's store with five pieces of high-quality gold jewelry. Janice buys the pieces from him without asking for proof as to whether he actually owns them.

Several weeks later, the man comes back with three more pieces of gold jewelry. Once again, Janice buys them from him, no questions asked. It turns out that the man had stolen all of the jewelry.

Janice did not make the reasonable inquiry she was required to make by law about whether the jewelry was stolen—so she will face charges for receiving stolen property.

She bought eight pieces of jewelry from the man—but she did so on only two occasions, so she will be charged with only two counts of receiving stolen property.

2. Penalties for Penal Code 496 Receiving Stolen Property

Penal Code 496 receiving stolen property is what is known as a “wobbler” in California law. This means that it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, at the prosecutor's discretion, depending on

  1. The circumstances of the case, and
  2. The defendant's criminal history.23

If receiving stolen property is charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties include:

Handcuffs2

For felony receiving stolen property, the potential penalties include:

  • Sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years in jail,
  • A fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), and/o
  • Felony (formal) probation.25

In addition, for either misdemeanor or felony receiving stolen property, you may face a civil lawsuit by anyone who has been injured by your actions. They may recover three (3) times the amount of actual damages they suffered, plus attorneys' fees and the cost of the lawsuit.26

2.1. Immigration consequences of a PC 496 conviction

If you are not a citizen of the United States, it is important to be aware of the potential immigration consequences of a receiving stolen property conviction.

Receiving stolen property is considered a “crime involving moral turpitude."27

This means that a conviction for Penal Code 496 could make you “inadmissible” to the United States—and prevent you from applying for a green card, becoming a legal immigrant, re-entering the country after leaving, or naturalizing as a U.S. citizen.28

Greencard
A receiving stolen property conviction can prevent you from getting a "green card."

In some cases, a receiving stolen property conviction could even lead to you being deported.29

For these reasons, it is important to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer who understands the intersection between California criminal and immigration law—especially if you are considering pleading guilty to a receiving stolen property charge.

3. Legal Defenses to Receiving Stolen Property Charges

You can fight receiving stolen property charges with the help of an experienced California theft crimes defense attorney. S/he will be able to find the best legal defenses for your particular case.

Depending on the circumstances, these might include:

You didn't know the property was stolen

Knowledge that the property was stolen is one of the key elements of the crime of Penal Code 496 receiving stolen property.30

According to Pomona criminal defense attorney Nicole Valera31:

“Prosecutors often build a receiving stolen property case on the basis of suspicious circumstances that may indicate the defendant knew the property was stolen. For example, they might point out that the price of the property was ‘too good to be true' or that serial numbers had been removed. But this sort of evidence doesn't necessarily show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the property was stolen. It's the defense lawyer's job to remind the jury that they can't convict unless that burden of proof is met.”

You didn't know that you possessed the stolen property

Maybe the stolen property was placed in your car or home by someone else without your knowledge—by a family member, boyfriend/girlfriend, roommate, etc. Perhaps that person wanted to get you into trouble, or was trying to cover up their own role in the theft.

Law_20books_20gavel

Meanwhile, the police, anxious to punish someone for the theft, go after you because of the physical evidence tying you to the crime.

But you cannot be convicted of receiving stolen property if you did not know you possessed the property.

Innocent intent

California receiving stolen property law recognizes something called the “innocent intent” defense. This means that you are not guilty of receiving stolen property if—at the time you received the property—you intended to return it to the owner or bring it to the police.32

Example: Donald owns a secondhand jewelry store. An undercover police officer comes in pretending to be a person with jewelry to sell. The officer tells Donald the jewelry is stolen and offers to sell it to him at a low price.

Donald decides to buy the jewelry and then go to the police with it, so he agrees to the man's officer. As soon as he does so, other police officers bust in and arrest him.

But Donald is not guilty of receiving stolen property if he can convince the jury that, in fact, his intent when he agreed to buy the jewelry was to take it to the police.33

Rsp_pawn_20shop
Pawn shops are frequently targeted for undercover "sting" operations that aim to prosecute owners for receiving stolen property.

But it is important to remember that the innocent intent defense to receiving stolen property charges applies only if you intended to return the property at the time when you received it, and did not later change your mind about that. It will not apply if:

  1. You intended to keep the property when you received it, and only later decided to return it; OR
  2. You intended to return the property when you received it, but then changed your mind and decided to keep it.34

You were voluntarily intoxicated when you received the property

Under California criminal law, you can be punished for criminal activity you engage in while voluntarily under the influence of drugs or alcohol.35

But the legal defense of voluntary intoxication can be a way of showing that you did not have the criminal intent or mental state necessary to commit a crime like receiving stolen property.36

In the case of Penal Code 496 receiving stolen property, you may be able to show that being under the influence of drugs or alcohol prevented you from realizing that the property was stolen.37

4. PC 496 and Related Offenses

Receiving stolen property charges are often brought in connection with charges for other California theft crimes. These include:

4.1. Penal Code 487 & 488 grand theft / petty theft

If you take someone else's property unlawfully, you could be convicted of either

  • Penal Code 487 grand theft, or
  • Penal Code 488 petty theft.38
Shoplifting_robbery
Shoplifting is one form of California theft.

Grand theft is charged when the property taken is worth more than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), is a car or a firearm, or is taken directly off of the victim's person. All other cases are petty theft.39

You may not be convicted of both receiving stolen property, and the theft of the same property.40

However, in some cases, the prosecutor might charge a defendant with receiving stolen property when they believe that s/he was actually the one who stole the property. This is likely to happen in cases where the prosecutor doesn't have good evidence tying the defendant to the actual theft—but does have enough evidence to get a conviction under PC 496.

Example: Mike leaves a toolbox full of valuable tools in his truck parked at his house. A neighbor of Mike's sees a man reach into Mike's car and remove something.

Later, the police catch Jaime with Mike's toolbox and tools. But the neighbor can't tell whether Jaime was actually the man she saw reaching into Mike's truck.

Jaime is charged with receiving stolen property because the eyewitness evidence that he committed theft is weak—but there is a stronger case for a receiving stolen property conviction.41

4.2. Penal Code 503 embezzlement

Receiving stolen property charges may concern property that has been stolen through embezzlement in addition to property that is stolen through more conventional means (shoplifting, robbery, burglary, etc.).42

Embezzlement is defined as fraudulently appropriating property that has been entrusted to the person who embezzles it.43 It is punished as a form of California grand theft or petty theft.44

4.3. Penal Code 518 extortion
Img-extortion-mail
Extortion is frequently committed by mail.

Penal Code 496 PC receiving stolen property charges may also be filed in connection with property that has been obtained through extortion.45

The crime of extortion in California, Penal Code 518 PC, occurs when someone uses force or threats to compel another person to consent to give them money or other property.46

4.4. Penal Code 485 theft/appropriation of lost property

Penal Code 485 PC makes it a crime to keep lost property that you have found—if:

  1. You find it under circumstances that would allow you to find out who the actual owner is and,
  2. You do not make reasonable efforts to find the owner and return the property.47

Appropriation of lost property” in this way is considered a form of theft—and is punished the same as grand theft or petty theft in California.48

While this offense may seem similar to receiving stolen property, they are actually distinct crimes.

Appropriation of lost property is a form of theft—one that you commit by not trying to return property to the owner. Penal Code 496 PC receiving stolen property, on the other hand, is something you can only do after a theft has occurred.

Call us for help…

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For questions about PC 496 receiving stolen property, or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our California criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

We have local criminal law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

For more information on Nevada “possession of stolen property” laws, please see our page on Nevada “possession of stolen property” laws.

Legal References:


1 Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving stolen property; punishment; swap meet vendors and others dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property; damages and costs; attempted offenses; penalties. (“(a) 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 district attorney or the grand jury determines that this action would be in the interests of justice, the district attorney or the grand jury, as the case may be, may, if the value of the property does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), specify in the accusatory pleading that the offense shall be a misdemeanor, punishable only by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year. A principal in the actual theft of the property may be convicted pursuant to this section. However, no person may be convicted both pursuant to this section and of the theft of the same property.”)

2 See same.

See also Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”) 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)). (“[Property is stolen if it was obtained by any type of theft, or by burglary or robbery. [Theft includes obtaining property by larceny, embezzlement, false pretense, or trick.]]”)

3 Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving stolen property; punishment; swap meet vendors and others dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property; damages and costs; attempted offenses; penalties, endnote 1, above.

4 See same.

See also Penal Code 672 PC -- Offenses for which no fine prescribed; fine authorized in addition to imprisonment. (“Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, in relation to which no fine is herein prescribed, the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors [including misdemeanor receiving stolen property] or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in cases of felonies, in addition to the imprisonment prescribed.”)

5 See same.

See also Penal Code 1170(h) PC. (“(h)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (3), a felony punishable pursuant to this subdivision where the term is not specified in the underlying offense [including the crime of receiving stolen property] shall be punishable by a term of imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years.”)

6 Compare the punishment for receiving stolen property, Penal Code 496 PC, endnote 1, above, with the punishment for California grand theft, Penal Code 489 PC.

7 See People v. Osborne (1978) 77 Cal.App.3d 472, 477. (“We hold that the innocent intent of returning the property to the true owner is a defense to the charge of attempted receiving of stolen property.”)

8 CALCRIM 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)), Related Issues: Defense of Voluntary Intoxication or Mental Disease. (“Though receiving stolen property is a general intent crime, one element of the offense is knowledge that the property was stolen, a specific mental state. With regard to the element of knowledge, receiving stolen property is a “specific intent crime” as that term is used in Penal Code sections 22(b) and 28(a). (People v. Reyes (1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 975, 985 [61 Cal.Rptr.2d 39].) Therefore, the defendant should have the opportunity to introduce evidence and request instructions regarding the lack of requisite knowledge.”)

9 CALCRIM 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)). (“The defendant is charged [in Count ] with receiving stolen property [in violation of Penal Code section 496(a)]. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that: 1 The defendant (bought/received/sold/aided in selling/concealed or withheld from its owner/aided in concealing or withholding from its owner) property that had been (stolen/obtained by extortion); [AND] 2 When the defendant (bought/received/sold/aided in selling/concealed or withheld/aided in concealing or withholding) the property, (he/she) knew that the property had been (stolen/obtained by extortion)(;/.) <Give element 3 when instructing on knowledge of presence of property; see Bench Notes.> [AND 3 The defendant actually knew of the presence of the property.]”)

10 See same, Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)). (“[To receive property means to take possession and control of it. Mere presence near or access to the property is not enough.] [Two or more people can possess the property at the same time.] [A person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has [control over it] [or] [the right to control it], either personally or through another person.]

11 See same.

12 See same.

13 Based on People v. Rossi (1936) 15 Cal.App.2d 180.

14 Based on People v. Land (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 220.

15 See same, Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a). (“[Property is stolen if it was obtained by any type of theft, or by burglary or robbery. [Theft includes obtaining property by larceny, embezzlement, false pretense, or trick.]]”)

16 See same, Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a). (“[Property is obtained by extortion if: (1) the property was obtained from another person with that person's consent, and (2) that person's consent was obtained through the use of force or fear.]”)

17 CALCRIM 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)), endnote 9, above.

18 See same.

19 Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving stolen property; punishment; swap meet vendors and others dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property; damages and costs; attempted offenses; penalties. (“(b) Every swap meet vendor, as defined in Section 21661 of the Business and Professions Code, and every person whose principal business is dealing in, or collecting, merchandise or personal property, and every agent, employee, or representative of that person, who buys or receives any property of a value in excess of nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) that has been stolen or obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, under circumstances that should cause the person, agent, employee, or representative to make reasonable inquiry to ascertain that the person from whom the property was bought or received had the legal right to sell or deliver it, without making a reasonable inquiry, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170. Every swap meet vendor, as defined in Section 21661 of the Business and Professions Code, and every person whose principal business is dealing in, or collecting, merchandise or personal property, and every agent, employee, or representative of that person, who buys or receives any property of a value of nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or less that has been stolen or obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, under circumstances that should cause the person, agent, employee, or representative to make reasonable inquiry to ascertain that the person from whom the property was bought or received had the legal right to sell or deliver it, without making a reasonable inquiry, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”)

20 Penal Code 496a – Junk and secondhand dealers; purchasing metals used in transportation or public utility service; determination of seller's right; punishment; record of transaction. (“(a) Every person who is a dealer in or collector of junk, metals, or secondhand materials, or the agent, employee, or representative of such dealer or collector, and who buys or receives any wire, cable, copper, lead, solder, mercury, iron, or brass which he or she knows or reasonably should know is ordinarily used by or ordinarily belongs to a railroad or other transportation, telephone, telegraph, gas, water, or electric light company, or a county, city, city and county, or other political subdivision of this state engaged in furnishing public utility service, without using due diligence to ascertain that the person selling or delivering the same has a legal right to do so, is guilty of criminally receiving that property, and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.”)

21 Penal Code 496b – Second hand book dealers, etc.; purchase of items with mark of library, college, or university; inquiry; punishment. (“Every person who, being a dealer in or collector of second-hand books or other literary material, or the agent, employee or representative of such dealer, or collector, buys or receives any book, manuscript, map, chart, or other work of literature, belonging to, and bearing any mark or indicia of ownership by a public or incorporated library, college or university, without ascertaining by diligent inquiry that the person selling or delivering the same has a legal right to do so, is guilty of criminally receiving such property in the first degree if such property be of the value of more than fifty dollars, and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than twice the value of the property received, or by both such fine and imprisonment; and is guilty of criminally receiving such property in the second degree if such property be of the value of fifty dollars or under, and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one month, or by a fine of not more than twice the value of the property received, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”)

22 CALCRIM 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)), Related Issues: Receiving Multiple Items on Single Occasion. (“A defendant who receives more than one item of stolen property on a single occasion commits one offense of receiving stolen property.“)

23 Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving stolen property; punishment; swap meet vendors and others dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property; damages and costs; attempted offenses; penalties, endnote 1, above.

24 See endnote 4, above.

25 See endnote 5, above.

26 Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving stolen property; punishment; swap meet vendors and others dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property; damages and costs; attempted offenses; penalties. (“(c) Any person who has been injured by a violation of subdivision (a) or (b) may bring an action for three times the amount of actual damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff, costs of suit, and reasonable attorney's fees.”)

27 People v. Rodriguez (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 174, 178.

28 Immigration & Nationality Act (“INA”) 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). (“(2) Criminal and related grounds (A) Conviction of certain crimes (i) In general Except as provided in clause (ii), any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-- (I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) [including receiving stolen property] or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime . . . ,”)

INA 245, 8 U.S.C. 1255 – Adjustment of status of nonimmigrant to that of person admitted for permanent residence [can be affected by conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, including receiving stolen property].

7 See, e.g., People v. Harris, endnote 2, above.

29 INA 237(a)(2)(A), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A). (“(i) Crimes of moral turpitude [important concept for criminal immigration law]. Any alien who-- (I) is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status under section 1255(j) of this title) after the date of admission, and (II) is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable. (ii) Multiple criminal convictions Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of whether confined therefor and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.”)

30 CALCRIM 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)), endnote 9, above.

31 Pomona criminal defense attorney Nicole Valera was recently recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine. She has spent her entire legal career defending the rights of criminal defendants, first as a deputy public defender with the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office and later in private practice, including with Shouse Law Group. Ms. Valera has represented defendants accused of a wide range of California crimes, including theft crimes like receiving stolen property, domestic violence, sex crimes, and vehicular manslaughter.

32 See People v. Osborne (1978) 77 Cal.App.3d 472, 477. (“We hold that the innocent intent of returning the property to the true owner is a defense to the charge of attempted receiving of stolen property.”)

33 Based on the facts of the same.

34 CALCRIM 751 – Defense to Receiving Stolen Property: Innocent Intent. (“[This defense does not apply if the defendant decided to (return the property to its owner/ [or] deliver the property to law enforcement) only after (he/she) wrongfully (bought/received/concealed/withheld) the property.] [The defense [also] does not apply if the defendant intended to (return the property to its owner/ [or] deliver the property to law enforcement) when (he/she) (bought/received/concealed/withheld) it, but later decided to (sell/conceal/withhold) the property.]”)

35 Penal Code 22 PC – Voluntary intoxication as excuse for crime; admissibility of evidence. ("(a) No act committed by a person while in a state of voluntary intoxication is less criminal by reason of his or her having been in that condition. Evidence of voluntary intoxication shall not be admitted to negate the capacity to form any mental states for the crimes charged, including, but not limited to, purpose, intent, knowledge, premeditation, deliberation, or malice aforethought, with which the accused committed the act. (b) Evidence of voluntary intoxication is admissible solely on the issue of whether or not the defendant actually formed a required specific intent, or, when charged with murder, whether the defendant premeditated, deliberated, or harbored express malice aforethought.")

36 See same.

37 CALCRIM 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)), Related Issues: Defense of Voluntary Intoxication or Mental Disease, endnote 8, above.

38 Penal Code 487 PC – Grand theft defined [may be charged in connection with receiving stolen property]. (“Grand theft is theft committed in any of the following cases: (a) When the money, labor, or real or personal property taken is of a value exceeding nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), except as provided in subdivision (b). (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), grand theft is committed in any of the following cases: . . . (c) When the property is taken from the person of another. (d) When the property taken is any of the following: (1) An automobile, horse, mare, gelding, any bovine animal, any caprine animal, mule, jack, jenny, sheep, lamb, hog, sow, boar, gilt, barrow, or pig. (2) A firearm.”)

See also Penal Code 488 PC – Petty theft defined [may be charged in connection with receiving stolen property]. (“Theft in other cases is petty theft.”)

39 See same.

40 Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving stolen property; punishment; swap meet vendors and others dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property; damages and costs; attempted offenses; penalties. (“A principal in the actual theft of the property may be convicted pursuant to this section. However, no person may be convicted both pursuant to this section and of the theft of the same property.”)

41 Based on People v. Reyes (1997) 52 Cal.App.4th 975.

42 CALCRIM 1750 – Receiving Stolen Property (Pen. Code, § 496(a)). (“[Property is stolen if it was obtained by any type of theft, or by burglary or robbery. [Theft includes obtaining property by larceny, embezzlement, false pretense, or trick.]]”)

43 Penal Code 503 PC – Definition [of embezzlement, which may be connected with receiving stolen property charges]. (“Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been intrusted.”)

44 Penal Code 514 PC – Punishment [for embezzlement, which may be connected with receiving stolen property]; determination of value; defalcation of public funds; disenfranchisement. (“Every person guilty of embezzlement is punishable in the manner prescribed for theft of property of the value or kind embezzled; . . . .”)

45 Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving stolen property; punishment; swap meet vendors and others dealing in or collecting merchandise or personal property; damages and costs; attempted offenses; penalties, endnote 1, above.

46 Penal Code 518 PC – Extortion [connected with receiving stolen property charges]. (“Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right.”)

47 Penal Code 485 PC – California's law against theft or appropriation of property [may be charged in lieu of receiving stolen property]. ("One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.")

48 See same.

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