DUI arrests don't always lead to convictions in court. Police officer mistakes, faulty breathalyzers and crime lab errors may get your charges reduced or dismissed. Visit our California DUI page to learn more.
Can I be charged with theft AND receiving stolen property?
Per California Penal Code 496, receiving stolen property is the crime where people purchase or otherwise take possession of items they know to be stolen. As a general rule, a person charged with this offense is not also charged with the crime of theft. However, an exception applies in cases where a person steals a motor vehicle.
1. How does California law define “receiving stolen property”?
Penal Code 496 is the California statute that defines the crime of receiving stolen property. Under this law, it is a criminal offense when a person buys, receives, conceals, sells, or withholds property that he/she knows to be stolen. Prosecutors may file the charge as a misdemeanor or a felony, and the maximum sentence is up to 3 years in county jail.1
2. Can a prosecutor charge a person with both theft and receiving stolen property?
The general rule is that a prosecutor cannot charge a defendant with both 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 (2005)), 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, there must be “post-theft driving.”
“Post-theft driving” 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. It clearly would if the thief is caught driving the car several days later. But if just a few minutes, an hour, or a few hours have passed, the law is not so clear.
California Penal Code 496 PC.
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.