Receiving Stolen Property NJSA 2C:20-7, New Jersey

The New Jersey crime of receiving stolen property is penalized under NJSA 2C:20-7, and as part of the theft provisions of Title 2C. There are a number of presumptions under the law which are specified in subsection b. of the statute below. Presumptions are nothing more than a permissive inference that can be made by the finder of fact, but can be rebutted. The effect of the presumption is to allow the “knowing” element of the offense to be presumed under certain circumstances.

The knowledge element is met if the State can prove that the defendant knew or believed that the property was stolen. The State must also prove that the defendant had possession, which is defined as dominion or control over an item. It is an affirmative defense to receiving stolen property that the person having possession of the stolen goods intended to return it to the rightful owner.

In addition, this statute is loosely crafted, and leaves lots of gray area. Therefore, it is often the case that a good criminal defense lawyer can develop quality defenses to receiving stolen property. The defendant should also ask their lawyer about possible alternative dispositions, including PTI (pre-trial intervention), which may provide the defendant an opportunity to avoid conviction and have the charges dismissed. Please take a moment to review the receiving stolen property statute below and feel free to call with any questions. As always, I provide free consultations.

§ 2C:20-7. Receiving stolen property

a. Receiving. A person is guilty of theft if he knowingly receives or brings into this State movable property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it is probably stolen. It is an affirmative defense that the property was received with purpose to restore it to the owner. “Receiving” means acquiring possession, control or title, or lending on the security of the property.

b. Presumption of knowledge. The requisite knowledge or belief is presumed in the case of a person who:

(1) Is found in possession or control of two or more items of property stolen on two or more separate occasions; or

(2) Has received stolen property in another transaction within the year preceding the transaction charged; or

(3) Being a person in the business of buying or selling property of the sort received, acquires the property without having ascertained by reasonable inquiry that the person from whom he obtained it had a legal right to possess and dispose of it; or

(4) Is found in possession of two or more defaced access devices.


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