Everyone likes the idea of getting a good deal, but what you may not realize is that if you receive property in some way and you know the items weren’t obtained legally, then you will be punished just as severely as the person who stole these goods. The law holds responsible anyone who knowingly deals with stolen goods, whether you buy something that fell off the back of a truck or you are given an expensive gift you know was stolen. Under Virginia Code §18.2-108 A, any person who buy, receives, or aids in concealing any stolen property or goods, knowing that these items have been stolen, is guilty of larceny.
Larceny is the general term for theft crimes, including shoplifting, robbery, and embezzlement. If you unlawfully gain possession or control of any goods or property, then you have likely committed a type of larceny.
To charge you with receiving stolen goods, prosecutors must have evidence of four elements:
There were stolen goods or property
That you bought, received, or aided in concealing
From another person, and
You knew the goods or property were stolen.
Receiving Stolen Goods Used in a Criminal Investigation
Part B of §18.2-108 states a person who buys or receives any goods that have been or are being used in the course of a criminal investigation by law enforcement, and that person believes the items to have been stolen, is guilty of larceny.
You’ll notice a number of differences between these two crimes. First, this offense includes goods used during a criminal investigation. This is an additional factor that prosecutors will need to prove to convict you of this crime. Second, the person can be guilty of larceny for believing the items to be stolen. This is far different than the crime of obtaining stolen property which requires you to know the goods were obtained illegally. The prosecution will simply have to show that it is highly likely you believed the goods to be stolen based on circumstances, not that you concretely knew of their illicit origins.
Statutory Punishments for Receiving Stolen Property
Virginia law punishes larceny as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the goods stolen. If you are accused of receiving stolen property worth less than $200 then you will be charged with petty larceny, a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, you can be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
If the items you received were worth more than $200, prosecutors will charge you with grand larceny. As a felony, you can be punished with up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.
Defending Against Receiving Stolen Property
There are a number of defenses a Roanoke theft lawyer can use to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case. Common defenses usually demonstrate that there is a lack of proof for one or more specific elements of the crime.
To prove larceny, prosecutors must establish the wrongful taking of any property from another person with the intent to deprive the lawful owner of the property forever. Without any stolen property, there cannot be a crime of receiving stolen goods. Therefore, your lawyer may seek to show the goods were not stolen.
For prosecutors to prove that you purchased, received, or concealed stolen goods, there must be evidence that the property was in your possession or under your control. For example, the items could be found in your vehicle or in a storage locker rented under your name. However, the connection between you and the property may be much more tenuous. In this situation, your attorney may strive to prove you never actually received the goods.
Finally, to gain a conviction, prosecutors must be able to show the court that you knew the goods were stolen. This is a common element to attack since it is difficult to prove what you knew or were thinking at any given time. It is not enough for the prosecutors to state there were signs the goods may have been stolen. For instance, an unexpected expensive gift from a friend or romantic partner is not necessarily stolen. It could have simply been a poor financial decision. Your attorney will strive to prove that there is little to no evidence that you knew the property you bought or received was illegally obtained.
Contact a Roanoke Theft Lawyer Today
If you are facing charges for receiving stolen property, your best chance of proving your innocence is by working with an experienced theft attorney from Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico. We have years of experience helping individuals gain the best possible outcome in larceny cases.
Call us today at for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation.