Protecting Your Rights
Every year, Garrett Green defends hundreds of people from criminal charges in Northern Virginia. Property crimes are a particular area of focus for them. Not only do these lawyers have ample experience protecting people charged with property crimes, they are also the authors of the book: Defending Virginia Property Crimes.
If you have been charged with receipt of stolen property or any other property crime in Virginia, call Nichols & Green PLLC for a free consultation. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Green are happy to talk to you about your case and to explain what defenses you may have. Call today to schedule a free consultation in person or over the phone (703) 215-1114.
Possession, Receipt or Sale of Stolen Property
There are several state laws that government the receipt and possession of stolen property:
- Va. Code 18.2-108 (receiving stolen goods);
- Va. Code 18.2-108.01 (sale of stolen property);
- Va. Code 18.2-108.1 (receipt of stolen firearms);
- Va. Code 18.2-109 (possession of stolen car, boat etc.)
Va. Code 18.2-108: Receiving or Possessing Stolen Property
To convict a defendant for receiving stolen property, the prosecutor must prove that the property was:
- previously stolen by another person, and
- that the defendant bought, received or aided in concealing stolen property.
- with knowledge of the theft, and
- a dishonest intent.
One of the unique things about the crime of receiving or possessing stolen property is that the prosecution must prove that you were not the person who stole the property.
Proving this is usually pretty easy because when the police find the stolen property, defendants are anxious to tell the police that they did not steal it. However, without these statements it is often difficult to prove that the person in possession of stolen property was not also the thief.
Proving that a person received, bought, or concealed stolen property requires that a person exercise dominion and control over the stolen property.
If a friend leaves a stolen cell phone in your car without your knowledge, you are not in possession of that stolen phone even though it is your car.
If the police find stolen property in your home or car they need some evidence that proves you knew the property was there or that you were exercising control over the item.
The most common defense to receipt of stolen property crimes is that the defendant did not know the property was stolen. The prosecutor must prove that the person knew the property was stolen.
Without a confession, the police and prosecutor will often have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove knowledge. Some examples of circumstantial evidence include:
- Purchasing the stolen property for ridiculously low prices.
- Having or purchasing other stolen property in the past or at the same time.
- Buying random items from a known thief.
- Items with security tags still on them or
- Buying a car with their ignitions broken by a screw driver and no title.
The dishonest intent requirement means that you did not possess the property in order to return it or find the owner. Purchasing the stolen property, holding on to it longer than is necessary to turn it in or using the property for your own benefit is evidence of a dishonest intent.
Receiving stolen property is punished the same way as larceny. If the property is worth $200 or more than it is a felony offense. If the property is worth less than $200 then it is a misdemeanor.
Felony receipt of stolen property comes with up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Misdemeanor receipt of stolen property comes with up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
A conviction for receipt of stolen property cannot be expunged from your permanent criminal record. A conviction for receipt of stolen property can also result in deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen.
Va. Code 18.2-108.01: Larceny with intent to sell & Sale of stolen property
This crime is actually two different offenses. The first is grand larceny with intent to sell. This means that if a person steals something worth $200 or more with the intent to sell or distribute it is guilty felony and will be punished with 2 to 20 years in prison.
Larceny with intent to sell is worse than normal grand larceny because it comes with a minimum prison sentence of 2 years while normal grand larceny has no minimum sentence.
Va. Code 18.2-108.01 also outlaws possession of stolen property with the intent to sell it. Doing so is a class 5 felony which comes with up to 10 years in prison and $2,500 fine.
The two most common ways that the prosecution proves intent to sell is either statements made by the defendant to the police or possession of many similar items (i.e possessing 3 stolen iphones).
Va. Code 18.2-108.1: Receipt of stolen firearm.
This code section is simple. It creates a special law for receiving or possessing a stolen firearm. The law is similar to Va. Code 18.2-108 in all respects except the punishment.
The punishment for receipt of a stolen firearm is less than the punishment for receipt of stolen property valued at $200 or more. Receipt of a stolen firearm is a class 6 felony, punishable by a maximum of up to 5 years in jail and $2,500.
Va. Code 18.2-109: Receipt or Transfer of possession of stolen vehicle, aircraft or boat.
This law is strange and overly complicated. This law is different from normal possession of stolen property in several respects: 1) the stolen property must be a car, boat or aircraft, 2) the defendant must have the intent to get or transfer the title, and 3) the defendant can commit this crime by giving away as well as receiving the stolen vehicle.
The punishment of this crime is also different from normal possession of stolen property. Possession of a stolen car, boat or aircraft is a class 6 felony which comes with up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.