Receiving Stolen Property

California Penal Code 496(a) P.C.

Receiving stolen property is a crime to purchase or accept property that you know or believe was obtained through theft.

What constitutes a charge of Receiving Stolen Property?

Under California Penal Code 496(a) P.C., you can be prosecuted for Receiving Stolen Property if you knew the subject property was stolen, or if you received it through Extortion. You can also be charged for this crime if you aided or abetted another person in concealing, transporting, selling or withholding stolen property.

Receiving Stolen Property is typically charged in conjunction with other theft crimes (e.g., Burglary, Grand Theft, Embezzlement, and Robbery). To obtain a conviction, the prosecutor need not even prove that you accepted the stolen property for your own personal gain. The Assistant D.A. only needs to convince the jury that you exercised control over the allegedly stolen property at some point. This is known as “constructive possession”.

Receiving Stolen Property is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that the District Attorney can charge it as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the allegedly stolen property is worth at least nine hundred and fifty dollars ($950.00), then you will likely be charged with a felony; otherwise, you will definitely be charged with a misdemeanor. The facts of the case and your criminal record will also be considered by the prosecutor in deciding whether to charge you with a felony if the theft involved property worth more than $950.00.

What are Examples of Receiving Stolen Property?

Examples of Receiving Stolen Property situations include the following:

  • Your roommate asked you to “store” some iPads in your car trunk, and you did so despite knowing that they were stolen.
  • While working as a clerk for a large pawn shop, you provided cash to someone whom you knew was a professional burglar who came in to hock half-a-dozen Rolexes that you were almost certain were stolen. Notwithstanding, you failed to run their serial numbers through a national database. If you had done so, you would have realized those Rolexes were stolen.
  • After getting pulled over by the police for running a red light, they find that your car trunk is filled with jewelry that was reported stolen in several recent burglaries.
  • You allowed your friend to store a car you knew to be stolen in your garage.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Receiving Stolen Property Charge?

To prove that you are guilty of Receiving Stolen Property under California Penal Code 496(a) P.C., the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 1750):

  • You bought, received, sold, aided in selling, concealed or withheld from its owner, or aided in concealing and withholding from its owner, property that was either stolen or obtained by extortion;
  • At the time you bought, received, sold, aided in selling, concealed or withheld from its owner, or aided in concealing and withholding from its owner, this property, you knew that the property was stolen or obtained by extortion; and
  • You actually knew of the presence of the property.

What Happens If I am Convicted of a Receiving Stolen Property Charge?

If you are convicted of Receiving Stolen Property under California Penal Code 496(a) P.C., you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison (if you are convicted of a felony – see California Penal Code 1170(h) P.C.); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of a misdemeanor); and
  • A maximum fine of $10,000 (felony) or $1,000 (misdemeanor);
  • Probation of three or five years (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Possible community service (felony or misdemeanor); and
  • Possible loss of ability to obtain or maintain a professional license, loss of employment or educational opportunities, or adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to a Receiving Stolen Property Charge?

Receiving Stolen Property cases can often be resolved during the investigation stage even before criminal charges are actually filed. Specifically, a highly experienced and skilled Los Angeles County Receiving Stolen Property attorney like Ninaz Saffari might be able to convince the investigating detective to not refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, or to convince the D.A.’s Office not to file charges if the case has already been referred. These are called Pre-Files, which Ms. Saffari has a great deal of experience in successfully negotiating. See her Case Results.

If you are charged with Receiving Stolen Property, Ms. Saffari will first conduct a thorough investigation, often with the help of her private investigator, to ascertain all relevant facts. Again, if possible, she will attempt to get the charges dismissed either before or shortly after they are filed. If she takes the case to trial, she will often use an expert witness who will argue that the alleged harm never occurred, did not occur to the degree claimed, occurred but was the result of an accident or unintentional conduct, or that the District Attorney has otherwise failed to provide enough evidence to meet the high threshold to prove Receiving Stolen Property.

The following are the possible defenses to a Receiving Stolen Property charge:

  • Lack of knowledge. You did not know that the property was stolen or was obtained through extortion, or you did not know that you actually possessed the property.
  • Lack of intent. At the time you received the property, you did not intend to permanently withhold it from its owner.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who allegedly received the stolen property. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, racial profiling, entrapment, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).
  • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more charges.
  • The accuser and/or witnesses are not credible. In other words, for any host of reasons, the jury simple does not believe what the accuser and/or witnesses are claiming about your criminal culpability.

What Kind of Receiving Stolen Property Cases Has Ninaz Saffari Defended?

Since 2005, Ninaz Saffari has successfully represented hundreds of clients against charges of Receiving Stolen Property, and has defended both adults and juveniles.


If you or a loved one are currently being investigated or prosecuted for this crime, it is critical that you immediately hire a highly skilled, aggressive and experienced Los Angeles County Receiving Stolen Property criminal defense attorney like Ninaz Saffari. Contact the Saffari Law Firm, P.C. now for a free telephone consultation. If Ms. Saffari believes she can help you, she will immediately schedule a free in-person meeting or, if you are in custody, she will visit you in jail (again, for free and with no obligation to hire her).


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