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Charlotte NC Attorneys at Law
Rosensteel Fleishman

Receiving or Possessing Stolen Goods

Receiving or possessing stolen goods is a serious crime with a serious punishment, including possible jail time. An experienced defense attorney will be able to examine all aspects of the crime as they relate to the facts of your case and look for ways to reduce or dismiss your charges. Call Mr. Rosensteel as soon as possible so that he can begin preparing your best defense.

If a person receives or possesses stolen goods, even if the person did not actually take the property of another, he can receive the same punishment as if he had committed the taking or the larceny. Like the crime of larceny, receiving or possessing stolen goods can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property and other circumstances.

North Carolina statute provides that a person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor when he either (1) receives property of another that he knows or has reasonable grounds to know is stolen and the property is valued at not more than $1000, or (2) possesses property of another that he knows or has reasonable grounds to know is stolen and the property is valued at not more than $1000. North Carolina statute provides that a person who commits a Class 1 misdemeanor receives a sentence between 1 day and 120 days, depending on prior convictions. A person with no prior convictions cannot receive more than a 45-day sentence, and this sentence must be community punishment. However, it is possible for a person with one or more prior convictions to receive active jail time as a punishment.

If the value of the property received or possessed is more than $1000 or if the person knows or has reasonable grounds to know that the property was taken pursuant to circumstances giving rise to felony larceny (the taking from the person of another, the taking from another person’s dwelling house, the taking of firearms or explosives, or a larceny committed after previously being convicted of larceny), then the person has committed a Class H felony. Someone convicted of a Class H felony receives a sentence of between 4 and 25 months, depending on prior convictions. A person who has no prior convictions might receive community punishment, but a judge is permitted to sentence anyone convicted of a Class H felony to active jail time.

 

Receiving Stolen Goods

To commit the crime of receiving stolen goods, the following elements must be proven:

  • the property was stolen by someone other than the defendant,
  • the defendant received or concealed this stolen property,
  • at the time that the defendant received or concealed the stolen property, he knew or had reasonable grounds to know that the property was stolen, and
  • the defendant received or concealed the property with a dishonest purpose.

 

Possessing Stolen Goods

To commit the crime of possessing stolen goods, the following elements must be proven:

  • the property was stolen,
  • the defendant possessed this stolen property,
  • the defendant knew or had reasonable grounds to know that the property was stolen, and
  • the defendant possessed the property with a dishonest purpose.

 

Note that when proving possession of stolen goods it is not necessary to show that another person stole the property, as it is when a defendant is charged with receiving stolen goods.

 

Receiving or Concealing Property

Typically, a person receives property when he comes into possession of it, often times by paying for it. Possession of property is discussed below.

 

Possession of Property

A person possesses property when he has the power and intent to control its disposition or use. Possession can be either actual or constructive. A person has actual possession of property when he has the property on his person. However, a person can have constructive possession of property that is not on his person, but of which presence he is aware and has the power and intent to control its disposition or use. An example of constructive possession might be a person who keeps the property in a locked storage unit.

 

Reasonable Grounds to Know that Goods are Stolen

A person who has been charged with receiving or possessing stolen goods might deny having knowledge that the goods were stolen. However, a person does not need to have actual knowledge that the goods are stolen. It is sufficient that there are reasonable grounds to know that the goods are stolen. One indicator that goods might be stolen is when the goods are sold for substantially less than their fair market value. Another indicator can be their packaging. For example, a person might have reasonable grounds to know that a computer is stolen if it is sold packaged in a dog food bag. The mechanics of a transaction can also indicate that the goods are stolen. For instance, if the sale of a car occurs in a motel room and the buyer does not receive a title to the car, these circumstances might provide reasonable grounds to know that the car is stolen. Another indicator that goods are stolen is a scratched off serial number. Finally, if a person flees from police, that flight can be evidence of consciousness of guilt.

 

Dishonest Purpose

The element requiring a person to act with dishonest purpose goes to the person’s intent. North Carolina courts have stated that this element “can be met by a showing that the possessor acted with an intent to aid the thief, receiver, or possessor of stolen property. The fact that the defendant does not intend to profit personally by his action is immaterial. It is sufficient if he intends to assist another wrongdoer in permanently depriving the true owner of his property.” This element can be shown with direct or circumstantial evidence.

 

Knowledge of Felony Larceny

There are two ways that the crime of receiving or possessing stolen goods can be a felony. First, the crime is a felony when the stolen goods are valued at more than $1000. Second, the crime is a felony when the person who receives or possesses the goods knows or has reasonable grounds to know that the goods were taken pursuant to circumstances giving rise to felony larceny. Circumstances which can give rise to felony larceny are the taking of the goods from the person of another, the taking of the goods from another person’s dwelling house, the taking of firearms or explosives, or the taking of the goods pursuant to a larceny committed after previously being convicted of larceny. When the person who receives or possesses the stolen goods knows or has reasonable grounds to know that the goods were taken pursuant to circumstances giving rise to felony larceny, the value of the goods does not need to exceed $1000 to raise the crime to the felony level.

If you have been charged with receiving or possessing stolen goods, contact a criminal defense attorney at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC (704) 714-1450, to discuss your options.