OCGA Theft by Receiving

Theft by Receiving Stolen Property In Georgia

You may think that buying or accepting property that was stolen absolves you from any wrongdoing. Pursuant to Georgia law, however, you could be prosecuted for receiving stolen property unless you had no idea that it was stolen. OCGA § 16-8-7 states that if you accept the property you know is stolen, you could be charged with a crime.

A person commits the offense of theft by receiving stolen property when he receives, disposes of, or retains stolen property which he knows or should know was stolen unless the property is received, disposed of, or retained with intent to restore it to the owner.

Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. Taking the time to understand the charges, penalties, and defense strategies associated with OCGA Theft by Receiving is a proactive and responsible approach. When it comes to legal matters, knowledge truly is power, and seeking the guidance of a reputable attorney can make all the difference in achieving a favorable outcome.

What constitutes theft by receiving under OCGA?

In the state of Georgia, theft by receiving is a serious offense that is defined under OCGA (Official Code of Georgia Annotated). It occurs when a person knowingly receives, disposes of, or retains stolen property, knowing or having reason to believe that the property was stolen.

To be charged with theft by receiving, certain elements must be present.

  • The prosecutor must prove that the accused had knowledge that the property in question was stolen. This means that the person was aware, or had reasonable grounds to believe, that the property was obtained unlawfully.
  • The accused must have received, disposed of, or retained the stolen property. “Receiving” refers to the act of taking possession or control of the stolen property. “Disposing” involves transferring or selling the stolen property to another person. “Retaining” refers to keeping or holding onto the stolen property, knowing that it is stolen.

It’s important to note that the offense of theft by receiving applies not only to physical items but also to intangible property, such as intellectual property or financial assets. This includes stolen goods, vehicles, electronics, jewelry, and even stolen digital content.

Under OCGA, theft by receiving is considered a misdemeanor or felony offense. The severity of the charge and the associated penalties depend on the value of the stolen property. If the value exceeds $1,500, it is considered a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years and/or fines. For stolen property valued at less than $1,500, it is a misdemeanor offense with potential imprisonment for up to one year and/or fines.

If You Are Charged with Theft by Receiving

As soon as you are charged with or arrested for theft by receiving, contact our Georgia criminal law attorneys. Depending on the circumstances. Pursuant to OCGA §16-8-10, if you were not aware that the property you accepted or purchased was stolen, the State may be unable to prove the charge(s) against you. The State must prove that the defendant knew or had reason to believe that the subject property was stolen.

  1. Seek legal representation: The first and most important step is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who specializes in theft-related cases. An experienced lawyer will have a deep understanding of OCGA theft by receiving laws and can guide you through the legal process.
  2. Understand the charges: Your attorney will explain the specific elements of the charges against you and help you understand the potential penalties you may face if convicted. This understanding will enable you to make informed decisions regarding your defense strategy.
  3. Gather evidence: Work closely with your attorney to gather any evidence that may support your defense. This could include witness statements, surveillance footage, financial records, or any other relevant documents. Your attorney will assess the evidence and determine the best way to present it in court.
  4. Assess the legality of the search and seizure: If the evidence against you was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure, it may be possible to challenge its admissibility in court. Your attorney will thoroughly review the circumstances surrounding your arrest and any search conducted to determine if your constitutional rights were violated.
  5. Develop a strong defense strategy: Depending on the specifics of your case, your attorney will craft a defense strategy tailored to your situation. This may involve challenging the credibility of witnesses, questioning the chain of custody of the alleged stolen property, or presenting an alternative explanation for your involvement.
  6. Negotiate with the prosecution: In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution. This could result in reduced charges or penalties, potentially avoiding a trial altogether. Your attorney will advocate for your best interests during these negotiations.
  7. Prepare for trial: If a plea deal cannot be reached or if you choose to proceed to trial, your attorney will diligently prepare your defense. This involves conducting legal research, interviewing witnesses, and developing persuasive arguments to present in court.

Charges and penalties for theft by receiving

Depending on the value or type of property received, the crime of Theft by Receiving Stolen Property could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

  • Generally, if the property’s value is $1,500.00 or less, you could be charged with a misdemeanor.
  • If the value of the property is higher than that, it is a felony and you could be facing from 1 to 20 years in prison.

When facing theft by receiving charges, always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assess the unique circumstances of the case and develop an effective defense strategy. Possible defense strategies may include challenging the evidence, disputing ownership or knowledge of the stolen property, or demonstrating a lack of intent or knowledge regarding the stolen nature of the property.

Severity of the charges and penalties

Several factors can significantly influence the severity of charges and penalties in cases involving OCGA Theft by Receiving. It is crucial to understand these factors to fully comprehend the potential legal consequences and develop effective defense strategies.

Value of the Stolen Property

One of the primary factors that can impact the severity of charges is the monetary value of the stolen property. Generally, the higher the value, the more severe the charges and penalties. Courts may categorize theft by receiving offenses into different degrees or classes based on the value, with higher-value thefts attracting harsher punishments.

Prior Criminal History

A defendant’s criminal history plays a vital role in determining the severity of charges and penalties. Previous convictions related to theft or any other criminal offenses can lead to enhanced penalties. Repeat offenders may face harsher punishment, including longer prison sentences or increased fines.

Intent and Knowledge

The intent and knowledge of the defendant regarding the stolen property can also influence the severity of the charges. If the defendant knowingly received stolen property and was aware of its illicit origin, the charges may be more severe compared to cases where the defendant unknowingly received stolen goods.

Involvement in Organized Criminal Activity

If the theft by receiving offense is linked to organized criminal activity, such as a larger theft ring or syndicate, the charges can be elevated to more serious offenses. Involvement in organized criminal activity may lead to additional charges and stiffer penalties.

Cooperation with Law Enforcement

Cooperation with law enforcement during the investigation and prosecution can sometimes result in more lenient charges and penalties. Providing valuable information about the theft operation or assisting in recovering stolen property can potentially lead to reduced charges or plea bargains.

Common defense strategies for OCGA theft by receiving cases

When facing charges of OCGA theft by receiving, it is crucial to understand the common defense strategies that can be employed to protect your rights and interests. These strategies, when effectively utilized, can potentially mitigate the charges or even result in a dismissal of the case.

If you can show that you had a right to the property or if you accepted or bought the property with the intent of paying the victim/owner for it with his or her consent, or with the intent of returning the property to the victim/owner, the State will not likely prevail.

Lack of knowledge

One possible defense is to argue that you were unaware that the property in question was stolen. Establishing that you had no knowledge of the stolen nature of the goods can weaken the prosecution’s case against you.

Lack of intent

Another defense strategy is to demonstrate that you did not have the intent to receive stolen property. This could involve proving that you believed the items were obtained legally or that you received them in good faith without any knowledge of their origin.

Insufficient evidence

Challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution is another defense approach. This may involve questioning the chain of custody or the reliability of witnesses, casting doubt on the validity of the case against you.

Mistaken identity

It is possible to argue that you have been wrongly identified as the recipient of stolen goods. This defense strategy involves presenting evidence that you were not involved in the alleged offense and that there has been a case of mistaken identity.

Police misconduct or entrapment

In some instances, it may be possible to argue that law enforcement engaged in misconduct or entrapment, leading you to commit the crime. This defense strategy challenges the integrity of the investigation and the actions of the officers involved.

Plea negotiations

Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be beneficial to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution. This could result in reduced charges or lesser penalties in exchange for a guilty plea.


Seeking legal guidance is an absolute must when facing charges related to OCGA Theft by Receiving or any other criminal offense. A skilled and experienced attorney can provide invaluable advice, guidance, and representation throughout the legal process. They can analyze the details of the case, identify potential defense strategies, and fight vigorously to protect the rights and interests of their clients.

We hope you found our blog post on OCGA theft by receiving charges informative and helpful. Understanding the charges, penalties, and defense strategies associated with this offense is crucial for anyone facing such a situation. By arming yourself with knowledge and working closely with an experienced attorney, you can navigate the legal complexities and develop a strong defense. Remember, every case is unique, so it’s essential to consult with a legal professional who can provide personalized guidance. Stay informed, stay proactive, and protect your rights.

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