Most people who commit burglaries or home invasions are not stealing items for themselves. They’re trying to take items that they believe they can resell. This is why electronics are so popular. It’s not that anyone wants another television, but simply that they know they can quickly sell a television to a pawnshop or through an online sale.
Of course, this also means that many people end up buying these stolen items. For instance, maybe you are simply looking for a television on Facebook Marketplace. What if you find one that has been stolen, you purchase it and then the actual owner discovers that you are in possession of their property? Could you be arrested for possessing stolen property, even though you didn’t steal it?
How much you knew plays a big role
Generally speaking – every case is unique – you should not be criminally responsible for possessing something that was stolen if you did not know that it was stolen. Perhaps the person you contacted on social media didn’t tell you anything about the item’s background. Maybe they just said they had upgraded their TV and they were selling an old one. For whatever reason, you believed it was a legitimate sale of an item that they legally owned, so you have not broken the law.
When this becomes illegal is if you do know that they’ve stolen the items or should’ve had reason to suspect that they did so. This can sometimes become a problem for pawnshop owners, for instance, if they are purchasing items from people they know are engaging in illegal activity.
If you do find yourself facing serious allegations of theft, especially if you believe you didn’t do anything wrong, you need to know what defense options you have.