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Buying a “hot” car from the neighborhood hookup.

Selling items you don’t own on Craigslist.

What do they have in common? They’re considered crimes—receiving stolen property or goods.

Buying, receiving and possessing stolen property all fall under the category of “receiving stolen property or goods” in South Carolina. And the charges and penalties associated with receiving stolen property or goods in SC are serious.

Let’s start by breaking down the basics and explaining exactly what “stolen goods” are in SC and how you can be charged with receiving stolen property/goods in our state.

The Basics

What is “receiving stolen property/goods?”

Stolen goods are not only things that can be touched and moved, but also actions that people can take. Some examples of receiving stolen goods in the South Carolina are:

  • Possessing stolen gasoline
  • Holding on to stolen art for a friend
  • Buying library materials from someone who failed to return them
  • Possessing items purchased with a bad check or counterfeit bills
  • Concealing the location of stolen property/goods as a favor for a family member

Surprised by some of the things or actions that are considered receiving stolen property? The penalties may surprise you even more. But first, let’s go into some detail about what receiving stolen property or goods actually looks like.

What does it mean to “receive stolen property/goods?”

South Carolina law states, “It is unlawful for a person to buy, receive, or possess stolen goods, chattels or other property if the person knows or has reason to believe the goods, chattels or property is stolen.” “Chattel” is movable personal possessions that aren’t real estate.

There is a difference between buying, receiving and possessing.

  • To buy stolen property/goods means you purchase something that you know or suspect is stolen.

One example is a pawn shop owner accepting and buying a gun which has the original serial number removed or obliterated—an easy way to identify a gun as stolen.

  • To receive stolen property/goods means you obtain something from someone else knowing or suspecting it is stolen.

For example, if your friend steals snacks from a store and shares them with you, you’ve received stolen goods.

  • To possessstolen property/goods means that you have in your possession something that you know or have reason to believe is stolen.

For example, say you forgot about a package of diapers on the bottom of your grocery cart at checkout and the clerk failed to scan it. When you realize you didn’t pay for the package and don’t return it to the store, you’re in possession of stolen goods.

Important note: Services you can’t actually touch, like electricity and wi-fi, can also be stolen goods. Whether the goods you’ve stolen are physical objects or not, the charges associated with this crime can lead to serious consequences.

The Charge: Receiving Stolen Property or Goods

You can be charged with receiving stolen property/goods if law enforcement believes that:

  1. You bought, received or possess stolen goods, chattels or property.
  2. You knew or had reason to believe that the property/goods you obtained were stolen.

Keep in mind that you can be found guilty of receiving stolen property or goods even if no one has been convicted of stealing the property/goods in your possession.

What if I received the stolen property/goods from a law enforcement officer?

The law specifically states that if you buy or receive anything from a law enforcement officer (or someone posing as one) that you know or suspect is stolen, you can be charged with receiving stolen property/goods. It doesn’t matter whether you knew the provider was a law enforcement officer. It also doesn’t matter if the property wasn’t actually stolen… it’s still illegal.

What if I received several stolen goods in one transaction?

More than one item in one transaction count as only one offense for charging purposes. So you will not be charged separately for each stolen item.

What if I’ve been charged with receiving stolen property/goods more than once?

If you’re charged with two or more offenses within a 90-day period, all offenses within that time frame will be counted as one offense. However, the value of the stolen property/goods will be added together to determine if the crime is a misdemeanor or felony.

Speaking of sentences, take a look at the penalties associated with charges of receiving stolen property/goods.

The Penalties for Receiving Stolen Property or Goods

If you’re found guilty of receiving stolen property/goods, the penalties you face may include jail time or fines. The crime, jail time and fines vary depending on the value of the stolen property/goods.

Value of stolen property/goodsCrimeFines OR jail time
Under $2,000*MisdemeanorUp to $1,000 or up to 30 days
$2,000 – 10,000Misdemeanor$1,000+ or up to 3 years
$10,000 or moreFelony$2,000+ or up to 10 years

*Can be tried in magistrate’s or municipal court

Also, if another person is injured or suffers damages because of your offense, you can be sued in civil court for three times the amount of damages, plus lawsuit costs and attorney fees.

Receiving stolen property/goods is a serious offense that can result in hefty fines or jail time if convicted. But if you are facing this charge, don’t despair, you can defend yourself with the help of an attorney.

How can I fight a receiving stolen property/goods charge?

If you’ve been charged with receiving stolen property/goods, an experienced attorney can help. Your attorney will evaluate your case to determine if any of the following defenses apply:

  • Innocence (you didn’t commit the crime)
  • The property wasn’t actually stolen
  • You didn’t know or had no reason to believe the property was stolen

If you’re facing a receiving stolen property/goods charge, you need a defense attorney in your corner. Remember that even misdemeanor charges can follow you forever.

Kent Collins is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Lexington, SC who can help you fight your case. Contact our legal team to schedule a free consultation by calling 803-808-0905 or using our online contact form.

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