I Bought Something That Was Stolen. Can I Face Criminal Charges?
Many people buy items through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, or other online marketplaces. Others go to garage sales, flea markets, or simply ask neighbors or friends when they are interested in purchasing something. What happens when someone buys property that was stolen? Can the buyer face criminal charges for theft even if he or she paid for the item? What if the buyer did not know that the item was stolen?
Receiving Stolen Property Can Be Charged as Larceny
Consider the following situation: John buys a motorcycle from his neighbor, Jill. Unbeknownst to John, Jill stole the motorcycle from someone else. Can John face criminal theft charges? Many people are surprised to learn that the answer to this question is “yes.” An individual can be charged with theft in Connecticut if they buy or otherwise receive property that has been stolen.
Connecticut Law Regarding Receipt of Stolen Property
Connecticut uses the term “larceny” to refer to theft of property. An individual may be charged with larceny if he or she receives, holds, or disposes of stolen items “knowing that it has probably been stolen or believing that it has probably been stolen.” The language used by Connecticut law leaves room for interpretation. Most people charged with larceny for receiving stolen property claim that they did not know that the item was stolen. However, prosecutors often counter that the defendant should have known that the property was stolen. Prosecutors may point to the fact that the item was sold for much less than the market value or that the circumstances of the transaction were suspicious.
In the example above, the police would likely ask whether John received a bill of sale or a pink slip for the motorcycle. If John did not get the title to the motorcycle or receive other documentation typically exchanged during the purchase of a motor vehicle, the prosecution would likely allege that John knew that the property was stolen.
Contact a Stamford Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you or your child was charged with larceny after receiving an item that was stolen, contact the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner. In Connecticut, buying or receiving stolen property is charged just as harshly as actually stealing the items yourself, and you could be facing misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the value of the allegedly stolen goods. If you are convicted, you could possibly be facing years in prison and substantial fines. With a strong defense from Connecticut defense attorney Daniel P. Weiner, you have a better chance of avoiding conviction and harsh penalties. Contact us today at 203-348-5846 for a confidential, free consultation.