Being in possession of stolen property in New York is a serious offense, one that can land you in jail for as much as twenty-five years, not to mention court costs, potentially huge fines, restitution, and other expenses. But even if you don’t know that the property you have is stolen, you can still be criminally liable. That is a scary reality, particularly given that a judge or jury will likely be skeptical about your claim that you believed the goods to have been given to you honestly and in good faith.
Maybe a neighbor or acquaintance asks you to keep a collection of jewelry safe while he or she is away on vacation. Would you ask where the jewels came from, or how the person came to own them? Probably not. You’d likely assume they were genuine possessions—antiques, heirlooms, or some other personal collection. But when the neighbor does not come back to retrieve the gems, and instead a police officer shows up with a warrant for your arrest, what will you do?
The smart move would be to immediately contact a competent lawyer who is thoroughly knowledgeable about possession of stolen property. Don’t wait for the acquaintance or neighbor to return and prove he or she owns the treasure. Don’t spend time insisting that you were just doing a favor for someone. Don’t try to find this person and return the items to prove that they were indeed not stolen.
The New York laws regarding possession of stolen property are complex and often tricky, and your best option is to act quickly. Contact the Law Office of James Medows, whose expertise in this area will protect your rights, keep you from losing valuable time that may hurt your claims and your case, and most importantly ensure that any accusation against you is resolved in the most positive way possible.
The unfortunate reality is that accusations of possessing stolen property are fairly easy to prove, not least because the claim of innocence does not often ring true—especially if you can’t readily explain how the items came into your hands. Think of current situations at airports, where people are constantly cautioned not to accept packages from strangers or keep an eye on unguarded luggage. For many people, the humanitarian instinct is to be helpful; however, the regrettable result can be that individuals suddenly find they are carrying or guarding a satchel full of drugs. The argument that you were just helping out a fellow traveler will likely fall on deaf ears. Similarly, your insistence that you had no idea the goods in your possession were stolen may well be considered skeptically.
In New York law, the presumption of guilt prevails in matters of stolen property possession. In other words, anyone who knowingly retains stolen property—from goods to land to credit cards—is assumed to be aware that those goods are stolen and that the person intends to use them, or has already used them (such as forging a credit card signature) for personal benefit and has no intention of returning the goods to their rightful owners. Furthermore, even if you are innocent, the fact that the actual culprit has not been apprehended will not help you. With his expertise and legal savvy, James Medows will help to defend you against such charges and, in the process, preserve your reputation, your veracity, and even your career.
James understands the complexities and nuances of the numerous charges involved with possession of stolen property, insight that is crucial to an effective defense. The New York Penal Code defines five degrees of this crime, with varying scopes of punishments:
Criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. This charge means that someone knowingly possesses stolen property and intends to use it for his own benefit or for that of someone else, and that he further plans to prevent the owner from recovering the property. Criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree is a misdemeanor with a potential sentence of up to one year in jail.
Criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree. This charge is similar to fifth degree criminal possession but more serious because it also meets one or more of the following criteria:
· The property is worth over $1,000.00
· The property is a credit card, debit card, or public benefit card (for medical assistance, food stamps, and other social services)
· The accused is a collateral loan broker—someone who lends money with the pledge of personal property or goods as security—or is otherwise in the business of buying, selling, or dealing in property
· The property comprises firearms, shotguns, and rifles
· The property is a motor vehicle (but not a motorcycle) worth more than $100.00
· The property is a scroll, religious vestment, or other item used for religious worship, is kept in a place of worship by a religious organization, and is worth at least $100.00
· The property consists of materials used to make methamphetamine, such as types of ammonia, and the accused intends to use the materials for that purpose or knows someone who will Criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
Criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree. In this charge, the stolen property that the individual knowingly possesses is worth over $3,000.00. This level of criminal possession is a felony that can carry a prison sentence of up to seven years.
Criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree. Even more serious, a person charged in the second degree knowingly has stolen property exceeding $50,000.00 in value and can earn a felony conviction of up to fifteen years in jail.
Criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree. In this, the most serious charge of criminal possession of stolen property, the individual has property whose value exceeds $1,000,000.00. This crime is a felony punishable of up to twenty-five years in prison.
The charge of criminal possession of stolen property is further complicated by the fact that the crime is often linked with another transgression, such as shoplifting, embezzlement, or larceny. For instance, if you steal a dress from Saks, you can be charged with burglary, but now that the stolen clothing is in your hands, you can also be accused of criminal possession of stolen property. In fact, criminal possession of stolen property is quite often linked with another allegation. That’s a double whammy, and the consequences have just escalated. Having James to defend you is now even more vital.
If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of stolen property, you should immediately engage a capable attorney who understands the many complications and ramifications this accusation entails. Do not take chances by waiting and insisting on your innocence. The Law Office of James Medows can provide you the excellent and well informed guidance you will need and can help to safeguard your reputation, your credit, and your future, and James will stand by you from the beginning to the end of your ordeal, addressing any and all of your needs.