It is a criminal offense to buy, receive or help conceal any embezzled or stolen property (if you know it is stolen or embezzled) according to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266, section 60.
However, maybe you did not know the property was stolen or embezzled in which case you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help defend you from the charges. In this article, we will explore laws about the possession of stolen goods and also receiving or possessing a stolen vehicle.
Stolen Property – Proof and Defense
Obtaining a conviction on receiving stolen goods is not always a straightforward process because certain elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The property was stolen. The Commonwealth is under no obligation to prove who stole the property. All that must be proven is that someone took the property without the okay of the rightful owner.
- The defendant knew the property was stolen.
- The defendant had knowledge that they possessed stolen property, bought stolen items, or concealed the items. At no time does the Commonwealth have to prove that the defendant profited off the theft.
Under the statute, no buying, receiving, or aiding (such as concealing the property) with the knowing intent to defraud can take place.
The Commonwealth must show that there was actual knowledge or a strong belief and not whether the person ‘should’ have known because a reasonable person would simply have such knowledge.
An attorney that has experience in defending clients from criminal charges would cast reasonable doubt on whether the defendant knew the property was stolen.
If the person fails to ask the facts surrounding the property, then this is not enough to show that the person did not know. All facts are considered about the stolen goods such as the price, circumstances surrounding the receipt, any cash payment, and type of seller.
Also, did the defendant have any past association with the person who stole the property and was more than one stolen item in the person’s possession?
The key element can be satisfied if the Commonwealth shows that the defendant may not have known at the time of receipt of the stolen property but instead found out later about the theft and continued to keep the property.
Penalties for Stolen Property Valued at Under $250
A conviction of receiving stolen property valued at under $250 carries the following penalties:
- First Offense: Prison for not more than two and a half years or a fine that is not more than $1,000.
- Second Offense (any subsequent offense): Prison for not more than two and a half years in a house of corrections and not more than five years in state prison. A fine of not more than $5,000. Prison and a fine.
Penalties for Stolen Property Over $250
Penalties for stolen property with a value greater than $250 includes two and a half years of imprisonment in the house of corrections or imprisonment for not more than five years in the state prison. A fine and imprisonment. The fine cannot exceed $5,000.
Anyone who is convicted of three or more acts of buying, receiving or selling could face up to 10 years if convicted.
Possessing or Receiving a Stolen Motor Vehicle
Under Massachusetts law, ‘Receiving Stolen Goods, Motor Vehicle 3 c. 266 s. 28(a)’, it is illegal to receive a stolen vehicle or trailer if you knew that it was stolen or suspected that the vehicle was stolen.
The Commonwealth can convict on a stolen vehicle charge if your case meets the following criteria:
- The defended received (either by buying or just receiving), possessed, or concealed a stolen auto. Proof must be shown that the defendant knowingly took control or possession of the auto. However, they do not have to prove that the defendant ever had the vehicle in their personal possession if they can show that the defendant had control of the auto.
- The auto was stolen.
- The defendant believed or knew that the auto was stolen. Please remember that the presence of the auto in the defendant’s possession does not prove that it is stolen. However, presence along with additional evidence can make the case especially if they prove that the defendant found at out at a later date that the auto was stolen but still held onto it.
Penalties for Receiving a Stolen Vehicle
If you are convicted of the crime of receiving or possessing a stolen vehicle or trailer then you could face the following:
- Up to 15 years of imprisonment at a state prison
- Up to two and a half years of imprisonment in a jail or the house of corrections
- A fine of $15,000
- Both fine and imprisonment
If you are convicted a second time for having a stolen vehicle in your possession then you will receive a mandatory sentence of one year in jail.
Get Legal Help NOW!
If you are faced with a charge of Receiving Stolen Property in Massachusetts, then it is imperative that you seek legal help.
Contact our office to schedule a consultation with our qualified, local criminal defense attorney, Gregory Oberhauser.