By now, you should know that you’re in for a difficult time if you get caught possessing drugs, even if they aren’t yours. Now, what does this mean to the topic at hand? Largely the same thing — if you get caught possessing stolen property, you’re likely to be in for a massive trouble. Such items are bad news, as any criminal lawyer would tell you.
Unless, of course, specific circumstances can constitute a legal and admissible defence.
Western Australia law strictly prohibits anyone from possessing stolen property. For said item/s to be considered unlawfully possessed, it must be obtained by means of any act that constitutes a criminal offence, though locale plays a major part here. For instance: acts done at a place outside Western Australian jurisdiction may not (take note of the term may) be considered criminal; unless laws enforced in such locale where the deed was done indicate otherwise.
When is a Person Guilty?
For one to be found guilty of the offence, the prosecution must prove two main points. First, the person who receives stolen property must know that the item/s was stolen at the time of receipt. Second, the person must be in possession of the property in question.
That said, criminal liability hinges on a person receiving and gaining possession of tainted goods, while knowing that the items are stolen. It’s also worth noting that one can’t always be charged if he did not choose to keep the items after knowingly receiving them. In a trial, this could be pointed out and made use of as a credible defence. Furthermore, anyone who receives tainted property without knowledge that the goods were stolen, but later becomes aware of the fact, aren’t always going to be held criminally liable.
A Quick Breakdown of Penalties
Once a defendant is proven guilty beyond doubt, they’ll face stiff penalties. In general, perpetrators can serve a 7-year prison sentence, should no other punishment be provided under specified circumstances (in accordance to WA Criminal Code). There’s also a summary conviction penalty of 2 years in prison and a $24,000 fine.
A final piece of advice to anyone out there: Don’t even think about playing with fire here. When someone offers you a shiny iPhone 6 that was somehow magically ‘picked up from the street’, look away. Such items are bad news, and many people have learned their lessons the hard way.