Most people are familiar with the crime of theft —which is an offense that is committed when someone takes property that belongs to another. Most are even familiar with the principle that a theft is still committed when a person obtains control over another’s property by trickery or by deceit. Furthermore, most people are aware that it is a crime to knowingly receive property that was stolen by another. However, Illinois law states that, if a person has received stolen property, he or she may be charged with theft, almost as if he or she stole the property in the first place.
There are several ways to commit a theft in Illinois. The most basic understanding of theft includes obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over another’s property, including by deception or some type of threat. Theft is also committed if a person obtains or exerts control over property known or stated by law enforcement to have already been stolen.
In short, a person commits theft anytime he or she, without the permission of the owner, takes another’s property or knowingly receives stolen property.
This definition of theft means that a person can be arrested and charged if he or she possesses stolen property and either knows or should have known that the property was stolen. But, if someone receives stolen property but does not know that the property was stolen, and does not have reason to believe that it was stolen, no theft is committed.
Under Illinois law, “property” means anything of value. It can include money, goods, such as jewelry, or instruments embodying services, such as an airline ticket. It includes intellectual property, such as blueprints or computer programs, and real estate or anything affixed to or growing on land.
Stolen Motor Vehicles
Possession of a stolen motor vehicle, however, is a separate offense in the state of Illinois. It is a violation of Illinois law to receive, possess, conceal, dispose of, or transfer a stolen vehicle or an essential part—such as a chassis, seat, or engine—of a stolen vehicle. The crime of possession requires knowledge that the vehicle was stolen. However, since the transfer and sale of vehicles is so strictly regulated and so well-documented, the court can infer that a person in unexplained possession of a stolen vehicle knew that it was stolen. Possession of a stolen motor vehicle is a Class 2 felony and can result in a prison sentence of three to seven years.
If you have received or possessed property that you knew or should have known was stolen, you can be charged with the serious crime of theft. When facing charges such as these, the advice of an experienced attorney is essential. Contact a skilled Joliet criminal defense attorney at the Law Office Jack L. Zaremba today for a free consultation.