Possession of Stolen Goods Lawyer

Being arrested for Possession of Stolen Goods in North Carolina is more common than you think. The reality is with eBay, Facebook marketplace, and all of the other local buy, sell and trade websites, it’s common for people to purchase stolen goods and not even know it. Let’s work our way through Possession of Stolen Goods cases together and then we’ll create a plan to help you with your case.

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What is Misdemeanor Possession of Stolen Goods in NC?

Possession of Stolen Goods is when a person is in possession of stolen property, and they know or have reasonable grounds to believe that it was stolen with a dishonest purpose. We know, that’s a lot more on the element front than you thought it would be, but let’s look at the elements together because it’s an interesting misdemeanor criminal charge.

What are the elements of Misdemeanor Possession of Stolen Goods in NC?

For a misdemeanor possession of stolen goods case, the state of North Carolina would need to prove the following elements:

A Person Guilty of this Offense:

  • Possesses
  • Stolen Property
  • Knowing or having Reasonable Grounds to Believe, that it was Stolen
  • With a Dishonest Purpose

This is found in North Carolina General Statute 14-72. Now our Greensboro stolen goods lawyers will go into detail on each of the elements above and break down how these elements work in court.

What is Possession for a Stolen Goods case?

When it comes to Possession in North Carolina, when you Possess something it’s either Actual or Constructive. Actual Possession is when it’s on you, you’re of the items presence, and either you’re alone or with others having the intent to control the item. Think of a stolen item in your pocket, a stolen item in your car on the passenger floorboard and you’re the only person in the car.

A majority of Possession issues come down to Constructive Possession. Constructive Possession is when you don’ have actual possession but you have the ability to maintain what they call dominion and control over the item. Our Stolen Goods Attorneys get it, this is a bunch of fluff, but what does it mean? Let’s look at some possession of stolen goods cases to get a better understanding of when the courts found people possessed stolen goods.

  1. Stolen Goods found in a Truck – the person charged was driving the truck when stopped by the police. Stolen goods were in the bed of the truck. He admitted to officers that he gave permission for the stolen goods to be placed in the truck, passenger is the one who put the tools in the truck and he did not refuse the tools. The courts founds that the driver possessed stolen goods. State v. Southards.
  2. Stolen Goods in Truck & Stolen Goods on Person – vehicle running outside of a house that was broken into. Electronic equipment from the house found in the truck. Person was seen by independent witness holding those electronic items. Large quantity of loose change alleged to have been taken and large quantity of loose change found on the guy charged. Courts found him in constructive possession of the items in the truck and actual possession of the loose change in his pocket. State v. Szucs

What is Stolen Property for a Stolen Goods case?

Just as it sounds, stolen goods is property that was stolen. It’s important to note, that the state doesn’t need to prove you stole the property or who did in order to convict you of stolen property.

What does Knowing or Having Reasonable Grounds to Believe the Property was Stolen for a Stolen Goods Charge mean?

This is typically where the biggest triable issues are with a stolen goods case. It comes down to the issue of whether you had knowledge or reasonable grounds to believe an item was stolen. How do they prove this? Will let’s look at a couple of cases together and it will all make a lot more sense.

  1. Knowledge or Reasonable Grounds to believe the property is stolen when a person was willing to sell property at a fraction of the price or when you buy something from someone else for a fraction of the value. If you buy a PS5 for $50, when it’s valued at $500, unless it’s broken the courts have deemed this as a situation where you can infer that the property was stolen and you had reasonable grounds to believe the PS5 was stolen goods. State v. Tanner
  2. If a stolen item is thrown away after a person possessed it the courts have held that this is an appropriate inference that the person knew or had reasonable grounds to believe the item was stolen.
  3. However, the courts found that if two people left a stolen item in their mother’s bedroom this is not enough to infer that had knowledge or reason to believe the item was stolen. State v. Wilson
  4. Vehicle Stop – tools visible in bed of truck, the tools and the truck were reported as stolen hours before they were stopped and the person fled when police tried to stop the vehicle. This was enough to infer they had knowledge or reasonable grounds to believe the items were stolen. State v. Marsh
  5. More Stolen Tools – person suspected the stools may have been stolen, but he admitted he did not trust the person who gave him the tools and not surprised when they came back as stolen. This was enough. State v. Southards
  6. Not Enough to Show Stolen Goods – Four Wheeler – the person openly drove the four wheeler and did not flee when the police stopped him. No evidence as to how he acquired the four wheeler. Not enough to prove stolen goods. State v. Lofton

What is a Dishonest Purpose for a Stolen Goods case?

A Dishonest Purpose for a stolen goods case in North Carolina can be inferred from the circumstances. An illegal purpose may be shown when you attempted to aid the person who stole the property, aid the person who was receiving the property or it can be inferred from aiding the person who possesses the stolen goods.

The courts have found that the person needs to gain no benefit from the stolen goods in order for this element to be met.

Evidence that the person intended to return the item to it’s rightful owner without a reward can be enough to disprove the dishonest purpose element.

Dishonest purpose was found when a person help someone carry an item from a crime scene and was later found to be in possession of that item.

How many times can they charge me with possession of stolen goods in North Carolina?

This is an interesting little caveat when it comes to a possession of stolen goods case. The number of times they can charge with being in possession of stolen goods is based o the number of times you obtained possession of stolen items. If you were found to possess 10 different stolen items. But you were found to have received those items 6 different times, the state can charge you with 6 counts of possession of stolen goods with some of those counts containing multiple items.

Can I be convicted of Larceny, Possession of Stolen Goods & Receiving Stolen Goods for the same incident?

The short answer is, No. Although all three of these charges are separate offenses with separate elements, the North Carolina Legislature intended for a person to only be able to be convicted of one of these charges if they all arose out of the same incident.

What level crime is misdemeanor possession of stolen goods in North Carolina?

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Possession of Stolen Goods is a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. If convicted you face a possible maximum sentence of 120 days in custody.



This is why you should contact our  – Guilford County & Randolph County – Greensboro, High Point & Asheboro Lawyers to help with your Possession of Stolen Goods charges in Greensboro, NC.

Call us at (336) 379-0539  to schedule a free, in-depth consultation with our top rated criminal defense attorneys.

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Client Review

“Definitely recommend this law firm to anyone looking in the Greensboro area. My lawyer was Mr. Jason Aycoth and he jumped on my case immediately the next day after my consultation. Super professional and friendly. He definitely had took care of business as my case was dismissed within about 4 months and everyone is happy at the end of the day. I can be speak and say he is #1 when it comes to any lawyers here.”                              September 21, 2023

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