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Receiving Stolen Property

Penal Code Section 496(a)

Information on the crime of receiving stolen property, also known as buy or receive stolen property, is found at California penal code section 496(a).

To prove that the defendant is guilty of receiving stolen property the district attorney must prove that:

  • The defendant bought, received, or sold property that had been taken without consent or obtained by extortion, and
  • When the defendant bought, received, or sold the property he or she knew that the property had been stolen or obtained by extortion

Property is stolen if it is obtained by any type of theft, including theft, embezzlement, fraud, robbery, extortion, burglary, etc (PC 496(a)). 

Receiving stolen property means to take possession of the property and control it. Two or more people can possess and control property at the same time. The defendant does not actually have to hold the stolen property, it is enough that the defendant has the right to control it, either personally or through another person. 

Punishment & Sentence for PC 496(a)

The crime of receipt of stolen property may be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. Whether or not the district attorney files misdemeanor or felony charges depends mostly on the facts of the case and the criminal history of the defendant.

Misdemeanor PC 496(a) charges carry a maximum punishment of up to three years in prison. Felony PC 496(a) charges carry a maximum punishment of up to one year in the county jail.

Probation Sentence: Probation sentences, with or without jail, may be available upon a conviction for receiving stolen property. Whether or not a probation sentence is available will depend on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history. Probation sentences are served by fulfilling probation terms. The probation terms can include jail, but usually a probation sentence for any conviction of receiving stolen property is served by work release or electronic monitoring (house arrest).

Crimes of Moral Turpitude: Receiving stolen property is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which means that the crime is considered morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry collateral punishment for licensed professionals and non-U.S. citizens.

Firearm Prohibition: Felony convictions for receiving stolen property carry a lifetime ban on ownership or possession of a firearm.

Note: PC 496(a) is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law. PC 496(a) is not a serious or violent offense as those terms are defined under California law. If the defendant is ordered to jail or prison after a conviction for PC 496(a) the defendant will be eligible for up to fifty percent (50%) credit off of his or her jail or prison sentence for good behavior while incarcerated.

Additional Punishment: In addition to any jail or prison sentence, if found guilty of PC 496(a), the defendant may suffer any of the additional punishments: fines, restitution, criminal protective orders, enhanced penalties for subsequent criminal convictions, loss of right to an occupational or professional license, civil lawsuits, immigration consequences, and more. 

Defense to Receiving Stolen Property

Common defenses to a charge of receiving stolen property include: insufficient evidence to prove the defendant knew, or reasonably should have known that the property was stolen, intoxication, entrapment, mistake of fact, insanity, alibi, coerced confessions, statute of limitations, intent to deliver the property immediately to law enforcement after receiving the property, and more.

To learn more about your rights and options when charged with the crime of receiving stolen property, or California penal code section 496(a), contact our successful and experienced criminal defense attorneys today.

Our criminal attorneys dedicate 100% of their practice to criminal law and our office is open seven days a week to answer your questions.


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Receiving Stolen Property Defense PC 496(a)

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PC 496(a): Receiving Stolen Property Defense

  • Animal Cruelty
  • Attempt Crimes
  • Brandishing
  • Burglary
  • Child Endangerment
  • Corporal Injury
  • Conspiracy
  • Criminal Threats
  • Domestic Battery
  • Drunk in Public
  • DUI
  • Evading Police
  • False Imprisonment
  • Hate Crimes
  • Identity Theft
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Oral Copulation
  • Petty Theft
  • Probation Violation
  • Prohibited Weapons
  • Prostitution
  • Resisting Arrest
  • Sexual Battery
  • Spousal Abuse
  • Statutory Rape
  • Vandalism
  • Vehicle Theft
  • Welfare Fraud
  • Witness Intimidation

Criminal Defense Attorneys, Serving

San Bernardino County

Adelanto, Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Highland, Redlands, Yucaipa, Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Rancho Cucamonga, Chino, Ontario, Upland, Montclair

Riverside County

Palm Springs, Banning, Beaumont, Norco, Eastvale, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona, Hemet, Perris

Los Angeles County

Los Angeles, Pomona, West Covina, San Dimas, Glendora, La Verne, Claremont

Crimes related to PC 496(a): Receipt of Stolen Property 

  • PC 496a(a) Buy or receive stolen railroad/utility property
  • PC 496c Copy record title without consent of owner
  • PC 496d(a) Purchase or receive stolen vehicle
  • PC 497 Bring stolen property into state
  • PC 498b) Unauthorized use of utility service

California Receiving or Selling Stolen Property Law Penal Code 496(a), 496(a)-F


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