Penal Code §496

Commentary

Receiving Stolen Property is knowingly having property that was unlawfully obtained with the intent to withhold it from the rightful owner.  It is a misdemeanor if the property value is less than $950 but can be a felony if the value of the property is greater.

Standard Punishment

One year – if a misdemeanor

16 months, 2 years, or 3 years – if a felony

Relevant Statutes

Penal Code §496

Standard Jury Instruction

The jury will generally be instructed pursuant to CalCrim 1750 and Calcrim 1751, which are summarized as follows

The defendant is charged with receiving stolen property in violation of Penal Code section 496(a).

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
1. The defendant bought, received, sold, aided in selling, concealed or withheld from its owner or aided in concealing or withholding from its owner property that had been stolen or obtained by extortion;
AND
2. When the defendant bought, received, sold, aided in selling, concealed or withheld, or aided in concealing or withholding the property, he knew that the property had been stolen or obtained by extortion;
AND
3. The defendant actually knew of the presence of the property.

Property is stolen if it was obtained by any type of theft, or by burglary or robbery.  Theft includes obtaining property by larceny, embezzlement, false pretense, or trick.

To receive property means to take possession and control of it. Mere presence near or access to the property is not enough.

Two or more people can possess the property at the same time.

A person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has control over it or the right to control it, either personally or through another person.

If you find the defendant guilty of receiving stolen property, you must then decide whether the value of the property received was more than $950. If you have a reasonable doubt whether the property received has a value of more than $950, you must find this allegation has not been proved.

The defendant is not guilty of receiving stolen property if he intended to return the property to its owner or deliver the property to law enforcement when he received the property.

If you have a reasonable doubt about whether the defendant intended to return the property to its owner or deliver the property to law enforcement when he received the property, you must find him not guilty of receiving stolen property.

This defense does not apply if the defendant decided to return the property to its owner or deliver the property to law enforcement only after he wrongfully received the property.

The defense also does not apply if the defendant intended to return the property to its owner or deliver the property to law enforcement when he received it, but
later decided to sell, conceal, or withhold the property.

Special Jury Instructions

The following case law may be of benefit in preparing special jury instructions to defend against a receiving stolen property charge.

“The possession of stolen property is not itself sufficient evidence of guilt of the party in whose possession it is found and if you find no evidence of the guilt of the defendant other than the possession of stolen property, it is your duty to render a verdict of not guilty.”
Authority: Exact quotation from People v. Enriquez, 39 Cal. 2d 168, 172, and held to be reversible error not to give the instruction.

“Possession of stolen property is not shown by mere access or proximity to stolen goods; dominion and control must be shown.”
Authority: Quoted language is based upon People v. Myles, 50 Cal. App. 3d 423 (1975).

“No presumption of guilt arises from the possession of stolen property or from the failure of the defendant to account for his possession of it, but the question of defendant’s guilt must be left to the determination of the jury from all the facts and circumstances shown in evidence.”
Authority: Exact quotation from People v. Enriquez, 30 Cal. App. 2d 168, 174 (1940).

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