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Second Degree Criminal Possession Of Stolen Property: New York Penal Law 165.52

Persons involved with the stolen property may be charged under a number of different statutes in New York. The Empire State’s laws present varying degrees of severity with stolen property in a manner similar to weapons and drug-related offenses. One misconception, however, is property crimes won’t be taken as seriously as more violent ones. Stolen property charges can rise to felonies, which absolutely reveals their seriousness.

New York Penal Law 165.52 unambiguously details the crime of “Criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree.” This particular crime is a Class C felony meaning significant penalties could be levied at someone convicted of the charges. Anyone arrested for a crime under New York Penal Law 165.52 should speak with an attorney to understand the scope of the charges and to discuss a viable defense strategy.

The Monetary Value of Stolen Property Under the Statute

Stealing and possessing stolen property remains a crime regardless of the value of the items stolen. The more valuable the item, however, the more serious the crime and the more significant the potential penalties become. Stealing a laptop worth $1,200 won’t be treated with any less seriousness than stealing several consumer electronics with a combined value of $3,500. However, the penalty increases to the more serious nature of the latter crime. Possession of stolen property with a value exceeding $1,000 becomes a crime of the fourth degree. When the value exceeded $3,000, the incident would be a third-degree crime.

At the second-degree level, charges reflect very serious stolen property violations. The monetary value at issue with the crime of “criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree” involves stolen property with the value exceeding $50,000. The immediate perception among many would be a suspect charged with stealing one item of such high value. Certainly, this is possible. The state of New York acts as the home to many jewelry and art stores. Manhattan and other Burroughs in New York City definitely have their share of such establishments. One single piece of jewelry or one painting could be well worth $50,000. Likely, however, most incidents of second-degree possession of stolen property refer to someone caught with a collective of stolen merchandise.

For example, if the police pull over and search a truck, they could discover $60,000 worth of stolen furniture and consumer electronics. The contents of the truck could have been pilfered from a retail store. Regardless of the origin of the stolen merchandise, when the value is more than $50,000, the charges are Class C felony level.

Knowing Possession of Stolen Property

The statute also clearly states guilt derives from “knowingly possesses stolen property.” In the aforementioned example of the truck, a person could conceivably be asked to perform a delivery and not know the contents of the truck are stolen merchandise. Another possible situation could entail a relative asking someone to “look after” personal belongings. The individual keeping and possessing a host of items in a garage might have no idea he/she has received and stored stolen property.

Persons unknowingly drawn into the possession of stolen property could mount a defense to the charges based on their lack of knowledge about the merchandise. As is the case with all criminal proceedings, guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney capable of raising reasonable doubt might very well procure a not guilty verdict. Hopefully, the evidence of the defendant’s lack of knowledge is so strong the charges could be dropped or dismissed.

Other Than An Owner

The statute also points out the person who possesses the stolen merchandise does so with clear intent to benefit him or herself or another individual “other than the owner thereof.” Also, the suspect could also seek to “impede the recovery” of the merchandise to the lawful owner. In short, someone takes possession of the merchandise through theft with the full intention of denying the owner of his/her rights to the property. Stealing merchandise, hiding it, and seeking to sell the goods reflects a definitive example of denying an owner his/her rights to the property.

In a trial, a defense attorney could question issues of “intent to benefit” or “impede the recovery.” As always, guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Class C Felony

The penalties for a Class C felony display how serious the state of New York takes violations of this statute. The sentencing for a non-violent Class C felony depends on the circumstances of the case and prior conviction history of the defendant. Someone with no prior convictions might only be sentenced to probation, although the possibility of up to seven years in jail looms. Those with previous non-violent and/or violent convictions face mandatory minimum prison sentences. If found guilty, reputable counsel could prove enormously beneficial during the sentencing phase.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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