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Receiving Stolen Property In New Jersey: What If I Didn’t Know They Were Stolen?


Retail crime is surging across New Jersey, and this is leading to an increase in the trade of stolen goods. Many people inadvertently purchase these items, often using online platforms such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay. What happens if you accidentally purchase stolen goods in New Jersey? Could you be charged with a crime? If you’re already facing charges, how do you defend yourself?

Notify Police Immediately After You Become Aware of Stolen Goods 

If you have learned that the items in your possession are stolen, you might want to notify the police as soon as possible. As soon as you become aware that the items are stolen, you are technically guilty of “receiving stolen property” – unless you report the crime as soon as possible. If you are unsure of how to proceed, consider speaking with a qualified defense attorney before you make the call to police in Bergen County.

You can also return the property to its rightful owner without ever involving the police if you choose. If you were caught with the stolen property while in the process of returning it, this may form the basis for a valid defense.

When Am I Guilty of Receiving Stolen Goods? 

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7a of New Jersey’s criminal code, you are guilty of receiving stolen property if you knowingly receive stolen property. This statute also outlines several factors that the prosecution must prove in order to convict you of this crime:

  • The prosecution must show that you knew the items were stolen
  • The prosecution must prove that the items were actually stolen

The prosecution can also convict you if they can show that you “believed the property was probably stolen.” Perhaps most crucially, the prosecution must do more than simply prove that the items were stolen. They must also prove that you were aware of their unlawful nature – which isn’t always easy.

Remember, the prosecution shoulders the burden of proof – which means that they must always show that you were aware the items were stolen “beyond reasonable doubt.”

Examples of Receiving Stolen Goods 

If you purchase jewels from a criminal who admits to stealing them, you will face charges if prosecutors can prove the existence of this conversation. You might also face charges if you purchase jewels from a criminal in a ski mask who runs out of a store with alarms blaring. Even if they never tell you that the items are stolen, you most likely believe that they are “probably” stolen due to the circumstances of the situation.

Find a Qualified, Experienced Theft Defense Lawyer in New Jersey 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced New Jersey theft defense lawyer, look no further than Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law. With our assistance, you can strive for the best possible outcomes after facing charges related to theft. We know that stolen goods often fall into the hands of innocent people, and you shouldn’t have to face charges for crimes that you had no knowledge of. Book your consultation today to get started with an effective defense strategy.



Contact Our Firm

Phillip J. Murphy,
Attorney At Law
Free Consultations Calls Answered and returned 24/7 Phone: (845) 639-6600 Fax: (845) 639-6620

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10 Esquire Road, Suite 10
New City, New York 10956

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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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