You had no intentions of depriving someone of their property, and no desire to get involved in a theft, but there is a problem: You are being charged with receiving or possessing stolen property.
In Georgia, receiving or being in possession of stolen property is a crime. Penalties for this crime can range from fines to jail time. Depending on the severity, you can face a felony or misdemeanor charge.
So what are the elements of theft by handling stolen property?
To be charged with the offense of possessing stolen property, the following elements must be met:
- You received or gained control of the stolen property
- Someone other than you stole the property
- You individual knew the property in question was stolen
- You had criminal intent
Two ways you can defend yourself if you are charged with receiving stolen property in Georgia include:
1. Lack of intent to commit a crime
Not everyone assumes control of stolen property with criminal intent. For instance, if a family member or friend was robbed, and you see someone selling the item in question, you may set up a meeting with the seller to repossess and return the item to the friend or loved one. You may also recover the item with the goal of handing it over to law enforcement.
If your intentions were innocent when possessing the stolen property and your actions pointed that you were recovering the item for purposes of returning it to the owner or the police, then you can argue lack of intent during your defense.
2. You never gained control or possession of the item
Verbally agreeing to possess a stolen property does not amount to having actual control or possession of the same. If you expressed intent to buy or possess some property but never physically had the item, that’s another potential defense.
A conviction for receiving or possessing stolen property can be life-altering. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and defend yourself when charged with possession of stolen property.