Felony vs. Misdemeanor Based on the Property Involved
There are various statutes in the Commonwealth for different kinds of theft that are in addition, or somehow associated with the actual act of theft, which is known as larceny. One that is commonly used is the charge of receiving, buying, or aiding in the concealment of stolen property. If the property involved is valued at more than $250, or is a motor vehicle, the offense is a felony. As a general rule, you should always plan on fighting felony charges.
If the property involved is a motor vehicle, the charge may also result in the suspension of your drivers license.
Elements of Receiving Stolen Property
To prove the charge of receiving stolen property, or a stolen motor vehicle, the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant knew that the property was stolen.
This element is often difficult to prove because the charge of receiving stolen property is often brought against someone who is merely the last link in a chain between the original owner, the thief, and the point at which the police recovered the property. Making it even more difficult, there is often a significant period of time which has elapsed between the original theft and the act charged as receiving stolen property. The Commonwealth will often attempt to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove that the defendant knew the property was stolen, such as evidence that the price paid was dramatically lower than the value.
Concealing Leased Property, Abuse of the Law
Whereas police and courts take receiving stolen property very seriously, courts are also aware of the widespread abuse of the charge of concealing leased property. If you are charged with this offense, there may be any number of ways of resolving your case while keeping your record clean, but it is important to get an attorney involved early in the process.
Many of the statutes regarding theft and receiving stolen property overlap in significant ways with other criminal statutes which carry substantially reduced sentences. Consult an attorney to find out what your options are.
If you or someone you know has been charged with receiving stolen property, contact me today to set up a free and confidential consultation
See: G.L. c. 266 s. 60; G.L. c. 266 s. 28; G.L. c. 266 s. 87; License Suspensions.