I represented a client who was charged with receiving stolen property in violation of NJSA 2C:20-7. The crime was charged as a Third Degree offense. Theft offenses are graded according to the monetary value of the item(s) alleged to have been stolen. In this case it was a car. The key element in a receiving stolen property offense is the one of knowledge, meaning that the person who is accused of receiving the property know or probably know that it is stolen. This is not always easy to prove.
In this particular case, we were given a plea offer prior to indictment which called for the defendant’s guilty plea in exchange for non-custodial probation. Given the facts of the case, I felt that the State could not prove the case. The downside to turning the offer down was that the defendant would be looking at jail time if he was convicted or decided to plead out after indictment. Pre-indictment offers are the best offers that the defendant will be given. We decided to turn down the offer.
The case was indicted. But in the interim, I provided the State with information which tended to show that my client did not know that the property was stolen. This information was verifiable and persuasive enough that the prosecutor sent some investigators to check it out.
After three months of going back and forth with the prosecutor, the case was dismissed on the State’s own motion.