In New Jersey, there is a special type of theft charge for those who received property taken from another without permission. Receiving Stolen Property under N.J.S. 2C:20-7, is a crime and the penalty depends on the value of the items received.
Receiving Stolen Property: 2C:20-7
To be convicted of Receiving Stolen Property, the Prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you knew the property was stolen. That knowledge can be presumed if you have two, or more, stolen items, taken on two or more separate occasions; you have received other stolen property within the prior year, or you buy and sell property without taking due diligence to discover whether the seller had a right to possess and dispose of the property. In addition, you can also be charged with receiving stolen property if you have two or more defaced access devices, such as a credit card reader or calling cards, etc.
Fencing, N.S.J. 2C:20-7.1
Fencing, under N.J.S. 2C:20-7.1, is the practice or profession of buying stolen merchandise to resell later. Many crimes can constitute Fencing in New Jersey. The “Fence” usually purchases the property well below the value and resells at a profit. Fencing also includes the management, supervision, financing, and/or organization of a stolen merchandise trafficking business. The penalty for “fencing” stolen items depends of the value of the items sold or for sale.
Fencing can be presumed if the items were sold far below fair market value or that the item is not of the type the seller normally deals in.
There are several defenses to Fencing. First, that you were aware the items belonged to another. It is also a defense if, you had an honest claim to the property and the right to sell it.
These crimes are considered fencing:
- Possession of Altered Property, N.J.S. 2C:20-7.1(a). Any dealer of property who knew, or should have known, that serial numbers had been removed from an item, without the permission of the manufacturer, is guilty of possession of altered property.
- Dealing in stolen animal companions, N.J.S. 2C:20-7.1(b)(2). The crime of Fencing in New Jersey includes dealing in stolen companion animals. This includes not just selling, but organizing, managing, financing, and supervising a stolen companion animal trafficking. Unlike other theft crimes, it does not matter what the value of the animal is, rather, it is a Third-Degree Crime, punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 crime.
Defending Stolen Property and Fencing Charges:
Being charged with receiving stolen property or fencing, does not mean you are automatically guilty, these charges can be defended against. To be found guilty of Receiving Stolen Property or Fencing, the Prosecution must prove that you knew, or should have known, the property was stolen. It is also a defense the items belonged to you, or that you were returning them to their lawful owner. More important, you cannot be convicted of both stealing the items and then receiving the items. The Prosecutor must pick which charge they intend to go after you with. With Fencing, it is also a defense, if you can establish a right to ownership of the items and a right to sell them.
In addition, the police may have violated your constitutional rights when arrested you or when they recovered the stolen items. Maybe your Fourth Amendment Rights were violated if the police did not have a warrant, or an exception to the warrant requirement, when they arrested you or entered your place of business. If you made statements before being Mirandized, your right against self-incrimination may have been violated. Miranda Rights may have been violated.
If your charges cannot be dismissed, and a conviction looks certain, then it may be possible to reduce the severity through plea bargaining. It may be possible to avoid a conviction by entering into a diversion program like Pretrial Intervention, A Conditional Dismissal, or even Drug Court, if you are a drug addict. If a diversion is impossible, and you face jail, or prison, it is possible to get you a term of probation and avoid incarceration.
Contact Us Today!
If you are facing a Receiving Stolen Property or Fencing charges in New Jersey, the potential consequences can be severe. Steven W. Hernandez can provide you with the strong legal advocacy you need to fight these charges and get the best result. Don’t take chances with your defense You need a lawyer with the experience and skill to protect your rights and keep you out of prison. Attorney, Steven W. Hernandez will provide you with aggressive representation to mitigate, or possibly eliminate, the penalties associated with your charges. To help ensure your rights, and future are protected, allow a New Jersey Receiving Stolen Property and Fencing lawyer from our firm, fight for you. To request a free consultation, call us today at 732-286-2700.