Receiving stolen property may sound like a minor offense – after all, it was someone else who committed the theft – but in Oklahoma, receiving stolen property can be a felony offense leading to up to five years in prison. What is and is not sufficient for the crime of receiving stolen property in Oklahoma can be surprising for those not familiar with the law, and those investigated and charged with the crime can be in for a rude awakening when activity they thought was legal turns out to be the basis for felony charges.
The Basics of Receiving Stolen Property in Oklahoma
You can be convicted for the crime of receiving stolen property in Oklahoma if the following conditions are met:
- You received property;
- The property was stolen, embezzled, taken by false pretenses, or otherwise withheld from its proper owner; and
- You either knew or had reasonable cause to believe the property was improperly taken from its rightful owner.
Conviction for receiving stolen property when the property is worth $1,000.00 or more is a felony which can lead to five years imprisonment in a state penitentiary plus a criminal fine. If the property is worth less than that amount, the crime is a misdemeanor which can lead to six months in a county jail in addition to a criminal fine.
You Can Be Charged Even if You Didn’t Know the Property Was Stolen
As the elements above point out, there is no requirement that a defendant actually “knew” that the property was stolen to be charged and convicted. For example, they do not have to be told by the seller/giver of the property that it was stolen or anyone else for that matter.
Instead, Oklahoma prosecutors can bring charges where the defendant had reasonable cause to believe that the property was stolen. Furthermore, the Oklahoma law says that courts can presume that a defendant knew that property was stolen when the defendant failed to “make reasonable inquiry to ascertain that the person from whom such property was bought or received had the legal right to sell or deliver it” when the circumstances of the receipt indicated that such a reasonable inquiry should have occurred.
Whether a reasonable inquiry should have been made in a given situation, and whether the reasonable inquiry in fact was made are both going to be questions that a defense attorney and prosecutor can litigate over with respect to a given situation. But to give an example, if you purchase something from a counter at a department store, clearly no reasonable inquiry would be called for. On the other extreme, if you are offered to purchase expensive jewelry monogrammed with another person’s name in an alleyway, then a reasonable inquiry is probably called for.
There is No Requirement For You to Have Bought the Property
Also note that Oklahoma’s receiving stolen property statute does not require you to have actually purchased the property. Whether you bought the property, was given the property, or are merely holding it for another person, you can be charged with the crime.
Finally, note also that the crime does not require that the property be stolen in a traditional larceny sense, in which an individual takes property from another either secretly or by force. Property that was embezzled (such as property taken from a worksite), obtained through false pretenses (i.e. tricking someone into handing over their property), or even borrowed but not properly returned to its proper owner can suffice.
Contact an Oklahoma Property Crime Defense Attorney
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian worked as an Oklahoma district attorney, and will work with you in mounting your best defense in your criminal matter. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.