Can I be arrested for unknowingly receiving stolen property?

Can I be arrested for Receiving a stolen Father’s Day gift if I did not know it was Stolen?  Yes

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Wilfredo Trivino-Perez ©2019


Most Californians haven’t any idea that they could be charged with a crime after being gifted property that has been stolen. An innocent person can find him/herself having to defend against scary accusations that carry serious legal consequences. In such instances, a good legal defense to demonstrate your innocence is critical.


In this week’s Newsletter, we discuss   the crime of Receiving Stolen Property


Our Scenario:  Art was quite surprised after waking up on the morning of Father’s Day noticing a beautiful Father’s Day card on top of a green Rolex box containing a gorgeous new Rolex submariner watch.  He quickly read the card, which said: “To the best father in the world…Enjoy your new watch!”  the card was signed by Art’s 18-year old son, Ricky.  Now Art knew Ricky had recently been fired from his job for stealing out of the register, and that Ricky had no money to pay for such an expensive watch.  Nevertheless, he did not ask any questions, and merely put the watch on, and accepted his lovely Rolex.  One week later, while getting into his car, Art was arrested and charged with a felony Receiving Stolen Property charge. Although Art never stole anything in his life, he was now facing a felony charge, and had to borrow money to make bail. Can Art be convicted of this Felony?  Possibly, without proper representation.



In California, theft can be charged in many ways aside from the traditionally known theft.  A less known theft charge is in the common situation where an individual, such as in the case of Art, has accepted possession of goods or property and had reason to know the item was stolen.


To be Convicted of Receiving Stolen Property


  • A prosecutor must demonstrate that the individual knewthat the item was stolen.
  • There is no requirement of committing the actual theft, receipt and possession of “known” stolen property alone is the crime.
  • In some cases, the crime of receiving stolen property can also occur when a defendant obtains property that, given the circumstances, should have alerted him to its stolen nature. In a “should have known” situation, a prosecutor must show that a reasonable person would have suspected the items were stolen.

Punishment for Receiving Stolen Property Crimes

The crime of receiving stolen property is a wobbler offense, which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the stolen property.

If the value of the stolen good(s) is $950 or less, the defendant will be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, a defendant could be sentenced up to 364 days in county jail and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

If the value of the stolen good(s) is more than $950, the defendant could be charged with a felony. If convicted of felony receiving stolen property, a defendant could be sentenced to up to three years in jail and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Proper Defense is Critical to Beat the Charge

An effective defense is paramount in establishing that the prosecution cannot prove the element of knowledge of the stolen item.  Absent a properly mounted defense, many innocent individuals end up with a conviction.


If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Trivino-Perez at: (310) 443-4251 or visit our homepage for a direct link to chat with us.


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