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Possession of Stolen Goods. What If I Did Not Know the Goods Were Stolen?

Being in possession of goods that one knows are in fact stolen, or that one believes probably have been stolen is a form of theft. Criminal defense lawyers in Baltimore MD know often argue that even if possession is shown, the requisite intent to deprive the true owner is not present.

If the State cannot prove that the defendant knew the goods were stolen, the defense may obtain an acquittal. 

Some particular provisions regarding the appropriate level of knowledge apply to merchants and those in the business of buying and selling goods. The law permits an inference that the merchant knows the goods have been stolen where that merchant has been in possession of goods stolen from more than one person in the last year. Where a merchant in goods of the kind stolen buys those goods at far less than market value, the requisite knowledge that those goods were stolen can be established also. These standards do not necessarily apply to one that is not a merchant. However, if an enterprising prosecutor is able to introduce evidence that an individual has previously possessed stolen goods, this could be persuasive evidence, and likely highly prejudicial evidence, or knowledge on the occasion in question.

     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 1/20/20.  

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