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Home Theft & Burglary: Handling Stolen Goods

The possession and handling of stolen goods is a statutory offence punishable by law in England and Wales as well as Northern Ireland. The primary element of the offence of handling stolen goods is the offender’s knowledge that the goods he or she is handling are stolen. Under section 221) of the Theft Act 1968, even where the offender was not actually involved in the theft of the goods, acquiring them with the knowledge that they are stolen, assisting in their retention, disposal, removal or realisation for the benefit of another person, means that the offence of handling stolen goods would have been committed. The law is not crystal clear on the state of mind or belief of the offender as to the origin of the goods.

The pertinent question here is can the offender be reasonably expected to have been aware of the fact that the goods he or she was handling were stolen? If, and as it very often the case, the offender had no way of establishing whether or not the goods in question were indeed stolen, what position does the law take? Where does the law draw the line between knowledge that the goods were stole, the belief that they could have been stolen and the suspicion that they were probably stolen? The common test applied in relevant cases relate to the offender’s wilful blindness or what can be referred to as recklessness in a fact that would otherwise have been obvious to a reasonable person given the circumstances. The offence of handling stolen goods is triable either in the Magistrate’s Court or the Crown Court.

Sentencing for Handling Stolen Goods

This immediately suggests that expert legal opinion must be sought with regards to which of the Courts would serve your best interest. The sentencing for handling stolen goods on conviction on indictment is a maximum of 14 years imprisonment. This is a very long custodial sentence; the prospect of which is bound to adversely affect anyone’s life. A conviction on summary before the Magistrate’s Court is punishable by a maximum imprisonment term of 6 months or a fine or both.

Our specialist team of criminal defence lawyers will go through the available facts of your case with you to determine the best professional advice and course of action based on your specific circumstances. We do not operate a one cap fits all practice. Instead, we take pains to carve out a custom-made service to every individual client, drawing on our specialists many years of criminal defence experience. Give us a call today and let us get to work on preparing a water tight defence on your behalf.


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