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What are some defenses to a charge of receiving stolen property?


A person accused of receiving stolen property in Texas faces potentially serious consequences if they are convicted. An aggressive defense to the charge, however, can result in a dismissal or acquittal in many cases.

In Texas, receiving stolen property is no longer a separate charge but is considered a form of theft and included within the general theft statute. In order to prove theft by receiving stolen property, the state must prove the defendant took possession of the property with knowledge that it was stolen.

Defenses are available to those charged with receiving stolen property. The main issue in most cases is that of knowledge. If the state fails to prove the defendant knew the property in question was stolen, the court should dismiss the charge. Simply claiming lack of knowledge will not be enough in most cases. Defense counsel will have to show that under the circumstances a reasonable person would not have known the property was stolen. If the defendant obtained the item under circumstances that would not make a reasonable person suspicious, or if the item has changed hands numerous times after it was stolen, the defendant will have a better chance of getting the charges dropped.

Pawnshop operators and people engaged in the business of salvaging abandoned or wrecked vehicles must be especially careful; they are presumed to have knowledge an item or vehicle was stolen if they do not obtain proper documentation as to its ownership or title or if they fail to comply with state regulations regarding their business.

Source: Texas State Legislature, "Tex. Penal Code § 31.02-.03," accessed on March 21, 2015

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