Two men were recently arrested after being approached by police in a convenience store parking lot in Northeast Philadelphia. Police approached the parked vehicle the men were in after noticing the car did not have a license plate. In the vehicle, police found several packages of heroin and a stolen catalytic converter. These car parts have been the target of many thefts lately, as the metal they are made of is very valuable. Now the men are facing many charges, including possession of stolen property.
While most people know it is illegal to steal property from others in Pennsylvania, many are unaware that it is against the law to even own stolen property. Below, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer explains this law, and the defenses to the crime.
What is Receiving Stolen Property?
In Pennsylvania, it is a criminal offense to receive property that you knew, or should have known, was stolen. Not only is accepting stolen property against the law, but it is also a crime to retain or dispose of property someone else stole. Even if you are unsure the property was stolen, but suspect it might be, you can still face criminal charges. The prosecution may argue that you should have known the property was stolen because of illegitimate paperwork, a very low price, or the short period of time that passed between the theft and receiving the goods.
Defenses to Receiving Stolen Property
It is a shock for many people when they are charged with the crime of receiving stolen property. Fortunately, there are many defenses that can help you retain your freedom. These include:
- You were going to return the property: Pennsylvania law defines theft as taking the property of another person without any intention of returning it to its rightful owner. If you were planning on returning the property and you can prove it, this can serve as a defense.
- You did not know the property was stolen: One of the elements of the crime of receiving stolen property is that you must have known, or should have known, the property was stolen. If you did not, that can provide a defense.
- You were unaware that you had the property: If you did not know you had the property in your possession, that can provide a defense in your case. For example, if the stolen property was in your home but you did not know it, you cannot be convicted of a crime.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia Can Help with Your Charges
Being charged with receiving stolen property is very shocking and stressful, and you may be concerned about your future. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer will review the facts of your case and devise the strongest defense strategy that will give you the best chance of beating your charges. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.