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I’ve been accused of possessing a stolen item. What can I do?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2023 | Theft & Property Crimes

Technology has greatly revolutionized how people interact and do business. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and eBay are just some of the platforms where you can find great deals on second-hand items. Unfortunately, some of these deals can be too good to be true, especially when the seller is attempting to resell a stolen item for a quick buck. 

Under Maryland law, being in possession of stolen items can land you in trouble. And while this can happen unbeknownst to you, the prosecution might still attempt to tie you to the items and secure a conviction on grounds of circumstantial evidence. 

What if you unknowingly buy stolen property?

If you knowingly gain possession of a stolen property, and fail to notify law enforcement or return the property in question to the rightful owner, then you may be charged. 

Defense options if you are charged with handling stolen property

Your defense for possession of a stolen item charge boils down to the circumstances of your case. Here are some of the defenses you may raise:

Lack of actual or constructive knowledge – to convict you, the court must be satisfied that you knew or ought to have known that the item in question was stolen. If you had no knowledge that the item in question was stolen and there was nothing suspicious or sketchy about it, like a scratched serial number, then you may argue a lack of constructive knowledge. 

For instance, if you inadvertently purchased the stolen item online on Facebook Marketplace, then you may argue lack of knowledge based on the kind of correspondence you had with the seller prior to the transaction. 

You never had physical possession or control of the item – agreeing to buy an item does not amount to being in actual possession of the item in question. If you agreed to buy the item but never followed through with the purchase, you have not committed a crime. 

Being charged with a crime can be devastating, to say the least. If you are concerned that you might be charged with possessing a stolen item, you need to explore your defense options.