You have probably heard that buying stolen property is illegal. These laws are in place to keep people from intentionally funding crime -- such as buying stolen items frequently and therefore creating a market for those goods.
But what if you never knew the other person stole the item? You went online looking for a new television, for instance, unable to stomach the high prices at the store. You quickly found one that you liked. It was only a few years old, and it was affordable. You contacted the seller, met up in a public parking lot, and bought the TV.
What if it turns out that the person stole the TV during a break-in a week ago? If the police arrest him or her and trace it back to you, are you going to jail just for trying to get a good deal on a television?
Did You Know?
The key question to ask here is simple: Did you know? When you bought it, did you understand that you were getting a good deal because it was stolen? If not, you likely do not have to worry.
Lawmakers thought of this exact scenario when they wrote the laws. Most of them, in most states, are drafted to say that it's illegal to knowingly possess a stolen item, or to knowingly buy it. Doing so in ignorance is not a crime.
That does not necessarily mean you get to keep your television. It was stolen, and it could be used as evidence or returned to the person who owed it. But you probably are not going to jail if it was an honest mistake.
Are you facing charges for buying or possessing stolen goods? If so, make sure you know exactly what the law states, what rights you have and all of the legal options at your disposal.
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