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Rhode Island Attorney

Receiving Stolen Property

Receiving Stolen Property

If you have been charged with Receiving Stolen Property please call or email me as soon as possible. Like nearly every other type of criminal charge, it is critical to be proactive and take some action to defend yourself before your next court date.

Under Rhode Island law for the charge of Receiving Stolen Property, every person who fraudulently receives any stolen property, knowing it to be stolen, is guilty of larceny.

Additionally, the possession of any stolen property is evidence of guilty knowledge by the person having possession that the property was stolen, unless the person shows that it was acquired in the due course of trade and for adequate consideration.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has had ample opportunity to interpret the Receiving Stolen Property statute over the last century. In essence, the prosecution must prove both possession of the stolen property coupled with guilty knowledge. Possession means intentional control of the property. Guilty knowledge means a fraudulent intent to possess someone’s property.

What is really troubling about the Receiving Stolen Property statute in Rhode Island is statutory presumption of guilty knowledge. The purpose of this statutory presumption is to dispense with affirmative proof of such knowledge and to substitute proof of possession from which guilty knowledge may be inferred. In essence, once possession is established, the burden is then upon the Defendant to explain and justify the possession when accused.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, in Rhode Island, all statutory inferences or presumptions are permissive rather than mandatory. A jury or a judge sitting without a jury is free to accept or reject the inference in each case. At the end of the day, it is the totality of the evidence, including the inference of guilty knowledge, must constitute proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a Defendant of the charge of Receiving Stolen Property.

Under Rhode Island law Receiving Stolen Property can be either a: (1) misdemeanor or (2) felony.

Misdemeanor Receiving Stolen Property

This charge involves circumstances where the allegedly stolen property has a value of less than five hundred dollars ($500.00).

Felony Receiving Stolen Property

This charge involves circumstances where the:

  1. Value of the allegedly stolen property exceeds five hundred dollars ($500.00),
  2. Allegedly stolen property is a firearm,
  3. Allegedly stolen property was stolen from a person under eighteen (18) years of age, notwithstanding the value of the property, and
  4. Allegedly stolen property was stolen from a person who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older at the time of the offense.