6.24.10 Criminal Defense Newsletter

Stolen Goods

In last week’s newsletter, we learned about the crime of shoplifting. This week we are going to learn about what happens to individuals who buy or receive stolen merchandise. Although these individuals are not the ones who committed the original crime of stealing the merchandise, they are committing another crime by purchasing or receiving the stolen goods.

In the Commonwealth, the crime of buying or receiving stolen goods is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 60. In order for an individual to be convicted of this crime, the Commonwealth must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

First, the Commonwealth must prove the property that the individual was possessing was actually stolen. Second, it must be proven that the individual had knowledge that the property was stolen. Third, it needs to be proven that the individual knowingly did one of three things: (1) had the stolen property in his or her possession (2) purchased the stolen property or (3) aided in concealing the stolen property.

It is important to note that the Commonwealth does not have to prove who stole the property. It only needs to be proven that the property was actually stolen.

Also, with regards to the second element of the crime, the Commonwealth must prove that the individual had actual knowledge that the property was stolen or believed that it was stolen. Therefore, an individual cannot be found guilty if the Commonwealth only proves that a reasonable person should have known the property was stolen.

It is also interesting to note that an individual can be found guilty of this crime even if he or she did not know that the property was stolen at the time that he or she received it. If the individual subsequently learned that the property was stolen, and at that time made the decision to keep the property and deprive the owner of its use, he or she will be found guilty.

An individual cannot be convicted of both the crime of larceny and the crime of receiving the same stolen goods.

Punishment

The punishment for the crime of buying or receiving stolen goods depends on the value of the stolen goods.

If the value of the stolen goods is $250.00 or less, a first offense of buying or receiving stolen goods can be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for up to 2.5 years and/or a fine of up to $250.00. A second or subsequent offense can be punished by imprisonment in state prison for up to 5 years or imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for up to 2.5 years or by a fine of up to $500.00.

If the value of the stolen goods is more than $250.00, the punishment is the same as if the individual committed a second or subsequent offense of stealing less than $250.00. Therefore, the punishment can be imprisonment in state prison for up to 5 years or imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for up to 2.5 years or by a fine of up to $500.00.

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