About 8 months ago I was arrested at my house under very odd circumstances. At the time I was renting a small piece of land from a friend where I had my camper parked. My friends house was just about ten yards to the right of my camper so I was literally in their yard. They also had an out building about ten yards behind their house which they rented to a couple other people.
On the day I was arrested the circumstances were beyond odd. I was sound asleep in my bed when I was suddenly woken up by a Paulding county sheriff who had literally entered my camper and then entered my bedroom and with his gun in hand he literally shook my leg and woke me up. I was beyond shocked to see a sheriff with a gun standing there and asking me to come out of my camper because they needed to talk to me.
First I couldn't even believe he would have the right to enter without any type of warrant, then come into my room and wake me up to question me about an issue that had absolutely nothing to do with me.
I got up and went outside where the officers were standing and they walked over behind my camper to show me a motorcycle that had been parked behind my camper. I told them I didn't know who it belonged to but it certainly wasn't mine. They asked if I had ever seen it before and I told them I had seen it the night before for the first time and that one of the other roommates was riding it, but I had no clue why or how it ended up behind the camper.
Then the asked me about a small trailer that was parked behind my camper to which I immediately informed them it was mine and that I had recently purchased it about two weeks prior to that day.
Then they basically asked me to come sit on the driveway
while they sorted out everything. They knew the motor cycle had nothing to do with me as they already had one of the thieves in handcuffs and asked me if he was one of the people I saw riding the motorcycle, to which I told them yes.
Before long it became clear that they were looking at everything on the property as being potentially stolen, and there was about 10 officers roaming around the property running serial numbers on nearly every tangible item. Most of the items did in fact belong to me including a Gator ATV, a zero turn lawn mower, a 18' car trailer, etc. Then they wanted me to open my gun safe because the heard I had a gun collection and they wanted to see if any of them were stolen. At first I objected because it seemed very unfounded that they wanted such access to my private belongings for reasons that had no tangible foundation, but they insisted that if I didn't open it they had enough probable cause to get a warrant and that would make things even more complicated.
I finally agreed to let one of the detectives look in my safe and check out my guns. I had never been in any trouble in my life and I knew I had nothing to hide as all my guns were legally purchased by me.
The detective took out all the guns which totaled seven and he called them in to be checked for being stolen. Each gun came back clean and they allowed me to put all of them back in my safe.
After that they asked me to write a statement about who I saw riding the stolen motorcycle which I did. After all that they went ahead and arrested the thief and escorted him to one of the police cars. Then as they were all leaving one of the officers asked me to walk up to his car with him. Once we got to his car he informs me I'm being arrested for Theft by Receiving. I was beyond shocked. As it would seem the small utility trailer I had purchased two weeks prior was in fact stolen. But I had no clue that was the case, and I couldn't believe they were charging me with a crime when I was in fact the victim since they were taking my trailer that I purchased for real money. I had the bill of sale from the guy I bought it from, but I got charged anyway.
I reviewed the law and it's clear that to be charged with theft by receiving, you must be in possession
of something that's you "Knew, or Should Have Known" was stolen. That's the burden of proof
required to make the charge and it was more than obvious I did not know for one second it was stolen, had I known it was stolen I could have simply said I had no idea who it belonged to, but claiming it as mine in itself shows I didn't know it was stolen. Plus I did my reasonable questioning before buying it. I looked for the vin plate which was in tact, I looked for any sign of damage to the locks or door and everything seemed normal. I didn't know the seller very well but was a friend of another mutual friend and he seemed respectable to me. He was asking for $500 which was a good deal but certainly not giving it away as it was very small and was probably around $1000 when it was new. Everything seemed reasonable to me including the hand written bill of sale so I decided to but it.
I'm 38 years old and I've never been in any trouble with the law, I want advice on how to handle this.