Definition of Dealing in Stolen Property
The definition of Dealing in Stolen Property is contained in Section 812.019, Washington DC Statutes. Under the law, the offense occurs where a person sells, transfers, distributes, or otherwise disposes of stolen knowing or having reason to know that the property is in fact stolen.
To prove the crime of Dealing in Stolen Property at trial, the prosecution must establish the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant trafficked in or endeavored to traffic in the alleged property;
- The defendant knew or should have known that the alleged property was in fact stolen.
The term “property” means anything of value, and includes real property (including things growing on, fixed to and found on land), and tangible or intangible personal property, including rights, privileges, interests, claims, and services.
“Stolen property” means property that has been the subject of any criminally wrongful taking, or, if the property has not been stolen, that it was offered for sale to defendant as stolen property.
The terms “Traffic” or “Trafficking” in stolen property means that the defendant sold, transferred, distributed, dispensed, or otherwise disposed of property. It can also mean the buying, selling, receiving, possessing, obtaining control of, or use of property with the intent to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense, or otherwise dispose of that property
Penalties for Dealing in Stolen Property
Under Washington DC law, Dealing in Stolen Property is classified as second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment or 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Dealing in Stolen Property may be upgraded to a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment, where a person initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property, and then traffics in such stolen property.
Although proof of knowledge that items were stolen is a required element in a prosecution for Dealing in Stolen Property, certain factual scenarios will give rise to an inference of knowledge.
- Proof of possession of recently stolen property, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person in possession of the property knew or should have known that the property was stolen.
- Proof of the purchase or sale of the stolen property at a price substantially below fair market value, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person buying or selling knew or should have known that the property was stolen;
- Proof of the purchase or sale of stolen property by a dealer in property, out of the regular course of business or without the usual indicia of ownership other than mere possession, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person buying or selling the property knew or should have known that it was stolen;
- Proof that a dealer who regularly deals in used property possesses stolen property, upon which a name and phone number of a person other than the offeror of the property are conspicuously displayed, gives rise to an inference that the dealer possessing the property knew or should have known that the property was stolen;
- Proof that a person was in possession of a stolen motor vehicle and that the ignition mechanism of the motor vehicle had been bypassed or the steering wheel locking mechanism had been broken or bypassed, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person in possession of the stolen motor vehicle knew or should have known that the motor vehicle had been stolen.
Defenses to the Charge
There are multiple defenses available to contest a charge Dealing in Stolen Property. Some of the more common defenses include the following:
- Lack of knowledge that item had previously been stolen;
- Pawning items at the request of another person, without knowledge of the origin of the items;
- Property not “trafficked” within the meaning of the statute;
- Property not stolen;
- Mistaken belief as to right to dispose of the property;
- Satisfactory explanation to rebut inferences of ‘knowledge;’
- Belief that property was abandoned or gifted;
- Mistaken identity as to the property;
- False claims to ownership by the alleged victim;
- Lack of evidence that property was stolen;
Contact an Attorney
Under appropriate facts, Dealing in Stolen property can be a highly defendable charge, an no person should attempt to resolve their case without first consulting with an attorney.
If you have been arrested for a stolen property offense, contact attorneys at Cohen, Bradshaw, Rothstein and Klein for a free consultation. Attorney Attorneys at Cohen, Bradshaw, Rothstein and Klein handles cases throughout Southeast and Central Washington DC.