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Theft and Receiving Stolen Property 2C:20-7A Defeated

“Receiving stolen property cases have a lot of grey area, and they are tough for the prosecution to prove. As a result, a good attorney can possibly have them thrown out of court.”

Theft and stolen propertyReceiving stolen property cases are difficult for the prosecution to prove.  People buy and sell second hand items constantly, and it’s not always clear whether something has been stolen.

Even in the case that someone’s credit or bank information is stolen and used to buy items, there must be definitive proof that the accused party is guilty (as you can read in the success story below).

Additional stipulations exist requiring that a certain number of instances of receiving stolen property have occurred before the party is “presumed” to know that it was stolen.

The bottom line is this: as a defense attorney, I look for loopholes which allow me to cast reasonable doubt on any element within a case.  The law behind receiving stolen property gives me a lot of room to work in a courtroom, or when negotiating with the prosecutor.

To hear how I can potentially beat your case, please give me a call anytime.  Additionally, feel free to continue reading about the success story below to learn more about the charge and how it’s defeated.

I recently represented a client charged with theft and receiving stolen property arising out of Boonton Township. A receiving stolen property charge is governed by N.J.S. 2C:20-7A which provides in pertinent part:

a. Receiving. A person is guilty of theft if he knowingly receives or brings into this State movable property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it is probably stolen. It is an affirmative defense that the property was received with purpose to restore it to the owner. “Receiving” means acquiring possession, control or title, or lending on the security of the property.

b. Presumption of knowledge. The requisite knowledge or belief is presumed in the case of a person who:

(1) Is found in possession or control of two or more items of property stolen on two or more separate occasions; or

(2) Has received stolen property in another transaction within the year preceding the transaction charged; or

(3) Being a person in the business of buying or selling property of the sort received, acquires the property without having ascertained by reasonable inquiry that the person from whom he obtained it had a legal right to possess and dispose of it; or

(4) Is found in possession of two or more defaced access devices.

A receiving stolen property offense in New Jersey can be graded as a second degree, third degree, fourth degree, or disorderly persons offense depending on the value of the goods allegedly stolen. The grading is as follows:

Second Degree: Value of goods $75,000.00 or more
Third Degree: Value of goods between $500.00 and $75,000.00
Fourth Degree: Value of goods between $200.00 and $500.00
Disorderly Persons Offense: Value of goods less than $200.00
The alleged amount in this case was approximately $450.00 which is a crime of the fourth degree in New Jersey. A fourth degree offense must be handled at at the Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey.

Here, the defendant lives in Washington State and had a package delivered to her apartment which was paid for using a stolen bank account number. A Boonton Township resident was the victim of this bank account theft and the proceeds were used to purchase a good which was delivered to the defendant’s house. However, the defendant denied any knowledge of the theft and claimed that she was dating someone who sent her the package as a gift.

I appeared at the Early Disposition Conference (EDC) which is the pre-indictment court in Morris County. The assistant prosecutor realized that they had no evidence linking the defendant to the theft and could not prove that she knew that the goods which were delivered to her apartment were stolen. As a result, the prosecutor agreed to remand the case to the Boonton Township Municipal Court as a disorderly persons offense (theft under $200).

Once in the Municipal Court, I was able to resolve the case without any criminal record. The defendant was originally facing a fourth degree felony charge with up to eighteen (18) months in New Jersey State Prison and instead the case was resolved without any criminal record whatsoever. This was a great result for the client and the firm.