Receiving or possession of stolen property is a serious crime in Nevada. Whether you will face felony or misdemeanor charges depends on your case’s circumstances and facts. Note that this is an entirely different offense from petty or grand larceny, and you can face charges even if you took no part in the actual theft. Depending on the value of an item and any aggravating aspects involved, such as the use of weapons or force, you risk spending 1 to 10 years behind bars, paying restitution, and settling a penalty of between $1,000 and $10,000.
If you face theft-related charges like possession of stolen property in Las Vegas, contact The Law Offices of Martin Hart. We will discuss with you the possible defenses after we evaluate the facts of your case. Our experienced lawyers have the skills to set up a strong defense that can help dismiss or reduce the charges you face.
What Is Possession Of Stolen Property?
Nevada’s Statute “NRS” 205.275 describes possession of stolen property as an offense where the defendant knowingly receives, possesses, withholds, or buys stolen goods with intent to enjoy personal gain or to prevent its rightful owner from keeping it.
Section 5 of the statute defines the presumption of intent. Generally, the prosecution and the jury can presume that a defendant engaged in this illegal act if found holding three or more similar items with defaced, removed, or altered serial numbers.
Other terms with special meaning used to describe possession of stolen property include:
Property can be just about anything from money to personal items.
This refers to property that has been illicitly or wrongfully obtained, seized, or withheld from its rightful owner.
Knowingly possessing stolen property is when facts show that you were aware that a specific item was stolen.
Possess means having physical custody of stolen goods or having control or dominion over them.
To do something with a conscious purpose or objective.
Elements of Possession of Stolen Property in Las Vegas, Nevada
For a defendant to face possession of stolen property charges in Las Vegas, Nevada, the prosecution needs to prove three crucial elements beyond a reasonable doubt. They include:
Possession of Stolen Items
There would be no case if no items were stolen in the first place. Stolen goods are obtained wrongfully through illegal acts like larceny, robbery, burglary, theft, fraud, embezzlement, or pretenses.
Knowingly Possessing Stolen Assets
Based on the aforementioned legal description of “knowingly,” a crime cannot be committed if a defendant did not know that particular property was stolen (wrongfully obtained).
Again, the prosecution cannot claim you committed a crime if you had no motive to enjoy personal gain from “stolen” property. If you took the item mistakenly, then you had no intent to steal it. A skilled attorney can also disprove that you intended to restrict the actual owner of specific items from enjoying their possession.
Intent is mainly established through circumstantial evidence because it is not something visible. However, the defense can prove your lack of ill motive by studying your behavior on surveillance videos or obtaining eyewitness statements.
Penalties for Possession of Stolen Property in Las Vegas, Nevada
Handling stolen property is a grave crime that tags along with harsh repercussions. This makes it necessary to retain an aggressive defense team whether you are guilty or you had no idea that the property in question was stolen. Either way, you need an attorney who can analyze the situation, inform you of your legal standing, and devise the most suitable course of action.
Typically, the stolen asset’s value in a defendant’s possession will determine whether a case is a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The courts determine the value of an asset based on its highest possible value by any reasonable standards.
Generally, there are four types of penalties you may face if convicted. They include:
The general rule of thumb is that defendants pay a higher fine for receiving stolen property of a higher value. While possessing a stolen item worth about $500 may lead to a fine of about $1,000, the courts will impose a higher fine for stolen goods worth more than $650.
Handling a stolen property is a theft crime that may lead to incarceration. Again, the length of a jail sentence may depend on the value of the stolen items. The greater their value, the longer the jail sentence you may serve.
The courts may also find it necessary for a defendant to pay restitution. These are monies awarded to the stolen items’ actual owner to serve as compensation for their loss.
Sometimes, the courts may find it best to sentence a defendant to probation instead of sending them to jail. In this case, there are special rules and terms you must follow to the latter. If you violate the set probation rules, the courts will force you to serve your original jail sentence.
Understanding the Severity of Penalties Based On the Value of Stolen Goods
A conviction for possession of stolen goods can bring harsh consequences. This makes it paramount to retain an aggressive defense attorney, irrespective of the stolen items’ value.
Here is an overview of the penalties you may face in more detail:
Handling Stolen Property Valued at Less Than $650
In Nevada, handling stolen goods whose value doesn’t exceed $650 is charged as a misdemeanor. It attracts a range of penalties, including:
- Fines not exceeding $1,000
- Incarceration in the county jail for up to six months
Handling Stolen Property Valued at Less Than $3,500 but More Than $650
Such a crime is a category C felony. It attracts a range of penalties, including:
- A fine not exceeding $10,000
- One to five years jail term in a Nevada state prison
Handling Stolen Property Valued at More Than $3,500
Because of the high value of the stolen property, such cases fall under category B felonies. Penalties include:
- Fines not exceeding $1,000
- One to ten years’ incarceration in a Nevada State Prison
To be convicted of handling stolen property in Las Vegas, Nevada, the prosecutor is tasked with proving that you were aware that the property in question was stolen. A conviction can also be made based on the fact that any reasonable individual would have known it was stolen given the circumstances that you received the property.
Unfortunately, you will still be charged with theft, even if you were not actively involved in stealing an item. As long as you bought or received it and the prosecution can prove you knew it was stolen, these are enough grounds to charge you with a felony or misdemeanor.
Compelling Reasons to Enlist a Las Vegas, NV Theft Crimes Attorney
Theft crimes attract criminal penalties, which include incarceration, restitution, and fines. Possession of stolen property is not an exception, and apart from these penalties, you may be left with a permanent criminal record. This is irrespective of whether you face felony or misdemeanor charges.
Such harsh repercussions can negatively impact your future in more ways than one. They can:
- Harm your social standing and reputation
- Make you ineligible for certain professional licenses within Las Vegas, NV.
- Cripple your ability to secure employment in certain companies
- Hinder you from finding housing within certain neighborhoods
The above are some of the reasons why you cannot afford to overlook the need for legal counsel. We can offer you a defense team known for its commendable success rate during bench trials and jury trials. Our long-standing relationship with local judges will also play a significant role in ensuring we achieve the best possible outcome.
Before trial, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate with the prosecution. In case you are being charged with a felony, negotiations can help reduce your charges to a misdemeanor. The attorney may even plead to have the charges dismissed entirely, especially if a case lacks adequate credible evidence.
Sometimes, negotiations with the prosecution may not work. With a seasoned attorney, you still have a fair chance of enjoying a favorable outcome. The expert will highlight weaknesses in the evidence and the prosecution’s case. Depending on how your attorney presents an argument, the jury may not find it worthwhile to convict you of a crime.
Common Defenses for Possession of Stolen Property in Las Vegas, NV
Our in-depth understanding of Nevada’s criminal justice system gives us an upper hand when representing persons accused of possession of stolen property. We will fight to protect your rights and ensure that you understand the possible consequences and penalties you may face if convicted.
Because theft crimes are not taken lightly within the state, we consider even misdemeanor charges a big deal. That is why we always have concrete strategies up our sleeves that may help in having your charges dropped or reduced.
Here are four of the best defense strategies we may use:
Lack of Knowledge about Stolen Items
In some cases, we can gather evidence that suggests you had all reason to assume certain items were legitimate. For instance, we can search for messages, recorded calls, and even emails that show a specific transaction seemed honest. We may also claim that you were framed or tricked to prove that you were devoid of criminal intent.
Lack of Possession
According to NRS 205.275, a defendant commits a crime by receiving, buying, or withholding stolen items. Merely being within proximity of these items is not considered an offense. If the prosecution cannot prove you had any control over these items, we can use this to convince the judge to drop the charges.
Lack of Stolen Items
A crime cannot be committed if no stolen items or property were possessed illegitimately. A key element in possession of stolen property is that there must be “stolen” goods. If we can prove that you legally owned the goods in question, this means having them in your possession is not an offense.
Another viable defense strategy is to highlight the execution of an illegal search. In this case, we simply need to file a motion that will suppress any evidence gathered by the prosecution. The courts will have no choice but to disregard the evidence tabled against you because law enforcement officers violated your constitutional rights when obtaining it.
Can The Prosecution Prove That I “Knowingly” Possessed Stolen Property?
While it is possible to deny fault by claiming you didn’t know that specific property was illegally obtained, the prosecution can use circumstantial evidence. For instance, you may be found guilty of a crime if the facts around a case show that any reasonable person in your position should have known that a particular item was stolen.
If I Return The Stolen Property To Its Rightful Owner, Can This Be Used As A Defense For Possession Of Stolen Property?
In this case, you may claim innocence of intent. To create a solid defense, your theft crime attorney will also need to consider the circumstances under which you obtained stolen items. The circumstances under which you developed the intent to return the items to their rightful owner will also need keen consideration.
Depending on how your lawyer presents the argument, you may be relieved of all criminal liability. However, you cannot use innocence of intent as a defense if your original motive was to keep or sell a stolen item for personal gain.
Can I Be Charged With Both Possession of Stolen Property and Theft Under The Same Case?
No. logically speaking, you can steal an item, or it can come into your possession through a second party. If you actively steal specific property, then you will be charged with theft. On the other hand, possession of stolen property charges comes when you were not personally involved in the theft.
Find a Nevada Criminal Attorney Near Me
The task of creating a winning defense strategy to fight possession of stolen property charges in Las Vegas, Nevada, is not easy. It is crucial to contact us immediately when you are charged. Be sure to give us plenty of time to devise the best way forward. You can count on us to provide you with honest updates throughout your case and consistently work to protect your rights and best interests. At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have a capable team of reputable theft crimes attorneys who can bring home the best results thanks to their familiarity with the laws, courtroom personnel, prosecutors, and local courts. For more personalized guidance, call us today at 702-380-4278.