Receiving Stolen Property


Ohio R.C. 2913.51(A) states that:

“No person shall receive, retain, or dispose of property of another knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the property has been obtained through commission of a theft offense.”

At a trial, the jury would be presented with this instruction on the law in Ohio:

"Reasonable cause to believe is defined in determining whether the defendant had reasonable cause to believe the (property) was obtained through a theft offense, you must put yourself in the position of the defendant with his or her knowledge or lack of knowledge and under the circumstances and conditions that surround him at that time. You must consider the conduct of the persons involved and determine whether their acts and words and all the surrounding circumstances would have caused a person of ordinary prudence and care to believe that the property had been obtained through the commission of a theft offense."

Common weaknesses in receiving stolen property cases is evidence that the defendant does not who owned the property before or buried their head in the sand as to the real circumstances of how it came to be owned by the person who gave it to the defendant. Also, if the property is a car, the defendant needs to have a title, a bona fide bill of sale, and a strong hope that person who gave it to you doesn’t have a lengthy criminal record.

As one trial judge in Licking County recently said in finding a defendant guilty of receiving stolen property (a car) in the case of State of Ohio vs. Ealy, Fifth Dist. 16-CA-31, 2016:

“Didn’t take steps to clear the title. Don’t have [a title]. Didn’t get [a title]. Couldn’t get [a title]. On that basis, I’ll enter a guilty finding here today.”