Orange County Receiving Stolen Property

Any criminal charge needs to be taken seriously by securing the services of reputable and effective legal counsel as soon as possible. A charge of receiving stolen property can result in serious jail or prison time and all of the additional consequences related to a criminal conviction. No one should face a criminal prosecution alone. Your future ability to work, secure a home, qualify for financing, and even get an education might all be impacted. 

The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are experienced Orange County lawyers who understand the law surrounding receiving stolen property. They will protect your rights and defend your freedom. Call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 to discuss your case and understand your legal options.

Penal Code Sec 496 —Receiving Stolen Property

Receiving stolen property is defined by California Penal Code sec. 496. The language of the statute prohibits buying, receiving, concealing, selling, or withholding any property obtained through theft or extortion. Receiving stolen property can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen property, and other circumstances surrounding the offense. Upon a felony conviction, a sentence of up to 3 years in prison to be served in county jail can be imposed. 

What Does it Mean to Receive Stolen Property under Penal Code Sec 496?

The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Bought or received property that had been secured by theft or extortion, or attempted to do so, and
  • You knew the property was stolen 


  • You concealed, withheld, or aided another person in concealing, selling, or withholding property from its owner, or attempted to do so, and 
  • You knew the property was stolen

Stolen property is property obtained by theft, burglary, or robbery.

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When is the Receipt of Stolen Property a Crime? 

Swap meet dealers, secondhand dealers, and sellers of used cars and other vehicles all have a statutory obligation to verify ownership of any articles received for resale. However, even ordinary people can be prosecuted for receiving stolen property. For example, a friend asks you to hold onto a piece of jewelry for a while, where the jewelry was actually stolen or you place an ad on eBay to sell vintage designer handbags that “fell off a truck”. 

Participating in these activities with even a suspicion that the property was not rightfully owned is enough to substantiate a prosecution for receiving stolen property. Knowledge that the property was not rightfully owned can be inferred from the circumstances, including your criminal record, if any.  

Receiving stolen property is considered a “wobbler.” A wobbler means that the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen goods, your criminal record, if any, and other surrounding circumstances. However, remember that the prosecution must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Penalties for Receiving Stolen Property 

Receiving stolen property can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If the property received is worth more than $950, or the person receiving the property is legally required to register as a sex offender under California’s Megan’s Law, or if the person receiving the property has a prior criminal conviction for a serious or violent crime, the prosecutor can seek a felony charge.

A conviction for a misdemeanor charge can bring a sentence:

  • Up to one year in jail

A felony conviction for receiving stolen property can bring a sentence:

  • Up to three years in state prison which is served in the county jail

Either a misdemeanor or felony conviction can also mean imposition of fines, or in lieu of jail, extended probation.

Here is where a savvy Orange County stolen property criminal defense lawyer can make a difference. Knowing when and how to negotiate with prosecutors to secure lesser charges or lesser sentences is the mark of an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney.

Legal Defenses to PC 496

Remember that the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, legal defenses to such a charge include one or more of these possibilities, depending on the facts and evidence of your case:

  • You did not know that the goods were taken
  • You had innocent intent
  • You intended to return the property
  • You intended to deliver the property to law enforcement
  • You did not actually receive any of the stolen items

Receiving the property by accident, mistake, or without your knowledge would negate any intent.

Related Offenses

In addition to charging receipt of stolen property, prosecutors often charge defendants with: 

Petty Theft PC 484/488: taking property valued less than $950. Penalties range up to 6 months in jail with fines up to $1,000.

Grand Larceny PC 487: taking property valued more than $950. This charge is also a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If a weapon is involved, the crime will be charged as a felony. Penalties for a misdemeanor include up to one year in jail. Penalties for a felony charge mean 16 months up to 3 years in state prison. 

Extortion PC 518: taking property through force or fear. This is also a wobbler offense. A misdemeanor conviction means up to one year in jail. A felony charge brings penalties from 16 months to three years in state prison. Fines can also be imposed, up to $10,000 for a felony extortion conviction.

Other Theft Offenses: offenses including theft by larceny, false pretenses, trick and embezzlement amongst other theft crimes. $950 once again is the magic number differentiating a misdemeanor from a felony charge.

Charged with Receiving Stolen Property in Orange County?

If you or a family member has been charged with receiving stolen property, you can rely on an attorney from The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian to fight for your rights and your freedom.

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Newport Beach and Fullerton to serve clients with matters heard at the Central, West, Harbor, and North Justice Centers, respectively, for all of Orange County.  The lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help!  Book an online consultation to get started today.
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