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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I bought and iPad and was later arrested

Customer Question

I bought and iPad and was later arrested for receiving stolen property. I have text messages to prove that I thought this was a legitimate sale and that there weren't any attempt to commit any wring doing. However the police choose to ignore this and refused
to drop the charges. I do not want to pay a lawyer or any court charges what actions may I take to avoid this.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question.
The police are not the ones who file charges. Police can investigate and make arrests based on probable cause, which is a "reasonable belief" that a crime has been committed. But it is the state, through the prosecutor's office, that decides whether to actually file charges after an arrest. A prosecutor must be able to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt", which is a very, very high burden of proof.
Here is the Alabama law on receiving stolen property. It is interesting and kinda scary, because if you were sold something that turned out to be stolen, it could become a question of fact for a jury to decide, whether or not you, knew or should have known, the goods you purchased where stolen or not.
§ 13A-8-16. Receiving stolen property — Definition.
(a) A person commits the crime of receiving stolen property if he intentionally receives, retains or disposes of stolen property knowing that it has been stolen or having reasonable grounds to believe it has been stolen, unless the property is received, retained or disposed of with intent to restore it to the owner.
(b) If a person:
(1) On two separate occasions within a year prior to the commission of the instant offense of receiving stolen property is found in possession or control of stolen property; or
(2) Possesses goods or property which have been recently stolen; or
(3) Regularly buys, sells, uses or handles in the course of business property of the sort received, and acquired the property without making reasonable inquiry whether the person selling or delivering the property to him had a legal right to do so, this shall be prima facie evidence that he has the requisite knowledge or belief.
(c) The fact that the person who stole the property has not been convicted, apprehended or identified is not a defense to a charge of receiving stolen property.
To establish the crime of receiving stolen property the state must prove four things:
Property must be stolen in fact
defendant either bought it, received it, concealed it, or aided in concealing it
defendant must knowingly buy, receive, conceal, or aid in concealing it was stolen
and defendant did not have intent to return the property to its true owner
I understand not wanting to involve a lawyer or get charges, but this is entirely out of your hands at this point. If you have been arrested, there is a likelihood that the state will file charges and this is a felony charge that can carry prison time. You need to retain a lawyer. If that happens, and if you cannot afford one, the state will appoint a public defender to you. A lawyer can speak to the prosecutor and show them any evidence you may have that proves you did not know the property was stolen and had no intent to receive stolen property. Criminal lawyers are going to have connections and relationships with prosecutors a layperson will not. Furthermore, if the prosecutor does want to make a fight out of this or take it to trial, you'll want a lawyer.
I'm not trying to scare you --I'm just telling you that this is a serious criminal matter and it's not going to go away on its on. A prosecutor is going to want to speak to your lawyer, not you.
Should you need any further clarification or information, use the REPLY feature and I'll be happy to assist you. Thank you.