woman purchasing stolen goods online

Can You Be Arrested for Buying Stolen Goods?

With sites such as Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace, it’s all too common for many of us to purchase items second-hand. After all, they’re generally less expensive. But unfortunately, sometimes these items were actually stolen prior to being listed for sale. While purchasing a stolen item is a criminal offense, what if you had no idea that it was stolen to begin with?

What Is Trafficking in Stolen Goods?

It’s important to first understand what it means to traffic in stolen goods. This crime occurs when someone knowingly initiates or supervises the theft and trafficking of property that has been stolen. However, someone can also be found guilty if they fail to ask enough questions regarding a deal that’s seemingly too good to be true. 

What If You Knew the Item You Purchased was Stolen?

If you purchased an item without knowing that it was stolen, you likely won’t be held accountable. But what if you knowingly purchased a stolen item? In the state of California, it’s illegal for either an individual or a business to do so. You can actually be prosecuted for theft if you fail to follow the law or to make a reasonable effort to find the true owner of the property. These charges can result in a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the value of the goods.

What if You Didn’t Know the Item You Purchased Was Stolen?

Luckily, if you purchased a good that you didn’t know was stolen, it’s unlikely that you’d face any criminal charges. After all, why should you be punished for something that you had no way of knowing? However, if you find out that an item was stolen after you’ve purchased it, it’s imperative that you report the theft to the police. 

While the most common defense to trafficking in stolen goods is that the individual didn’t know they were stolen, this is not a black and white decision but rather a “totality of the circumstances” test for determining if the person did in fact know or not. For example, if someone purchased a $20 stereo from a garage sale, it may seem less likely to have been stolen. 

Contact Our San Bernardino Theft Crimes Attorney Today

It’s important to understand that if you purchase a stolen item you can face criminal charges – especially so if you had knowledge prior to purchasing the good. 

If you or a loved one has been falsely accused of theft for purchasing an item that was previously stolen, you could be in serious trouble. You should be sure to take it seriously as such a conviction can have tremendous life-long effects on you. That’s why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced San Bernadino criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Ronald L. Freeman, we understand what is needed to help you and will fight to have these charges against you reduced or even dropped. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!