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....