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What Should You Do if Charged with an RSP Crime (Receiving Stolen Property) in Pennsylvania?


11/18/2019

Receiving stolen property is a unique crime that is often charged against innocent people. For example, let’s say that your friend is visiting from out of town, and he gives you permission to borrow his car to run some errands. You are later pulled over by the police, and it turns out that the car is stolen. In this situation, you will likely be charged with receiving stolen property even though you did not know the car was stolen.

If you’ve been charged with receiving stolen property, the best thing you can do is contact a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia as soon as possible. Attorney Lauren Wimmer helps people charged with crimes across the state of Pennsylvania get a fair result. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the prosecution – call us today at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation about your case.

Understand the Charges Against You

Receiving stolen property is considered a crime of theft and is typically charged against people who are benefiting in some way from a theft committed by someone else. It is the only theft crime where the prosecution does not prove that the defendant committed theft. For example, a pawnshop that routinely purchases stolen property and resells it may at some point face RSP charges. That said, there are specific things that the prosecution must prove to convict someone of an RSP crime.

Under Title 18, Section 3925 of Pennsylvania law, there are two elements to the crime of receiving stolen property:

  1. Intent: you intentionally received, retained, or disposed of property that belongs to another.
  2. Knowledge: you knew that the property had been stolen or that it has probably been stolen.

Therefore, in order to be found guilty of receiving stolen property, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally received the property and knew the property was stolen or that it was probably stolen. For example, if someone leaves stolen property in your car without your knowledge, you cannot be convicted of receiving stolen property. Similarly, you cannot be convicted if someone gives you property that they claim they purchased, and you have no reason not to believe them.

Understand the Potential Penalties You are Facing

Under Pennsylvania law, receiving stolen property can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Generally speaking, the severity of the charge will be determined by the value of the property at issue.

  • Misdemeanor of the Second Degree RSP: If the stolen property is worth less than $200 but more than $50, the charge is graded as a second-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, you face one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
  • Misdemeanor of the First Degree RSP: The charge is graded as a first-degree misdemeanor if the property was worth more than $200 but less than $2,000. Misdemeanor first-degree RSP is also charged if the property was stolen by force or threat or in breach of a fiduciary duty. If convicted, you face two years in jail and $5,000 in fines.
  • Felony of the Third Degree RSP: If the property involved is worth more than $2,000 but less than $500,00, the charge will be a third-degree felony. Receiving a stolen automobile is also charged as a third-degree felony. The possible penalties you face if convicted are a prison sentence of up to seven years and $15,000 in fines.
  • Felony of the Second Degree RSP: RSP is charged as a second-degree felony if the stolen property was a firearm, and you are not in the business of purchasing and selling firearms. If convicted, you could face 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
  • Felony of the First Degree RSP: If the property is worth more than $500,000, you will be charged with a first-degree felony. You can also be charged with a first-degree felony if the stolen property was a firearm, and you are a licensed firearm dealer. The possible penalties of a first-degree felony RSP conviction are up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

Keep in mind that $2,000 isn’t that much money – you can quickly find yourself facing a felony RSP charge as a result of a theft of an insignificant piece of property. This means that, if convicted, you could potentially be facing up to seven years in state prison.

Evaluate the Prosecution’s Case and the Evidence Against You

The next step is to understand and evaluate the prosecution’s case against you. You will be entitled to review the evidence they have against you prior to trial, but it will require you to know how to navigate the legal procedures required to obtain this information. Also, the prosecution isn’t required to identify the weaknesses in their case – that is up to you to discover. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to review and evaluate the case against you in order to formulate a defense strategy.

Consider the Potential Defenses

The first potential defense that you may have comes from the statute itself. Section 3925 expressly allows you to receive stolen property with the intent to return it to its proper owner. If you can prove that you intended to return the property to its original owner, you may be able to avoid conviction.

You can also defend yourself by arguing that you lacked the requisite intent or knowledge. Mere possession of stolen property does not mean that you can be convicted of an RSP crime.

  • Lack of intent. Intent is often proven by way of circumstantial evidence, which means that you have a good chance of showing that you did not intend to receive stolen property. For example, maybe the property was left in your home without your knowledge.
  • Lack of Knowledge. You can also successfully defend yourself by proving that you did not know or have reason to know that the property was stolen. This can be a relatively simply defense to raise, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Of course, successfully raising these defenses will require you to know which facts will be persuasive and how the law will apply to your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you formulate the arguments you will need to build a successful defense strategy.

Charged with an RSP Crime? Contact a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Receiving stolen property is a serious crime that can result in years in jail and a conviction on your permanent criminal record. If you’ve been charged with RSP, the best thing you can do is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Criminal defense lawyer Lauren Wimmer will fight for your rights and make sure you get a fair result. Don’t delay – call 215-712-1212 or send us an email to schedule your free consultation today.