Receiving Stolen Property

Des Moines Iowa Receiving Stolen Property Lawyer

Receiving stolen property is theft under Iowa law. You could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony if you exercise control over stolen property and knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the property had been stolen. The only valid purpose for exercising control over stolen property is to promptly restore it to the owner or to take it to the police. Iowa Code 714.1.

Theft convictions could lead to large fines, jail time, restitution payments, and employment problems. Des Moines theft lawyers can explain more possible consequences.

Employers don’t trust people convicted of stealing things — especially not when people have felony theft convictions. You may find that employers, friends, and family won’t trust you around money or things of value anymore. Banks might not trust you with loans, especially if you still owe fines or restitution.

You can’t afford to be seen as a thief — not if there’s any way to clear your name. Maybe the property was yours to begin with. Maybe you have proof that you were out of state with friends during that time. Maybe your twin brother fesses up.

Whatever the facts of your case, an Iowa theft attorney can review the charges against you and help you determine what defenses may be available. You need help with receiving stolen property defense in Iowa.

Receiving Stolen Property in Iowa

The degrees of theft are defined in Iowa Code 714.2.  Des Moines theft lawyers can explain to you why you’re charged with one degree instead of with another.

Theft in the First Degree

If you're in possession of stolen property valued at more than $10,000, you will be charged with first-degree theft.

First degree theft is a Class C felony. You could spend up to 10 years in prison and will be directed to pay a fine of $1,370 to $13,660.

Theft in the Second Degree

If you're in possession of stolen property valued at between $1500.01 and $10,000, you will be charged with second-degree theft.

Second degree theft is a Class D felony. You could spend up to 5 years in prison and will be directed to pay a fine of $1025 to $10,245.

Theft in the Third Degree

If you're in possession of stolen property valued at between $750.01 and $1500, you will be charged with third-degree theft.

Third degree theft is an aggravated misdemeanor. You could spend up to two years in prison and will be directed to pay a fine of $855 to $8,540.

Theft in the Fourth Degree

If you're in possession of stolen property valued at between $300.01 and $750, you will be charged with fourth-degree theft.

Fourth degree theft is a serious misdemeanor. You could spend up to a year in jail and will be directed to pay a fine of $430-$2,560.

Theft in the Fifth Degree

If you're in possession of stolen property of a value up to and including $300, you will be charged with fifth-degree theft.

Fifth degree theft is a simple misdemeanor. You could spend up to a month in the county jail and will be directed to pay a fine of $105-$855.

How the Value of Stolen Property is Calculated in Des Moines

Stolen property is valued as of the time of the theft.

The value of property is the highest value by any reasonable standard at the time of the theft.  Reasonable standards that the Court could use in determining how much you stole are things like market value in the community, actual value, purchase price, and replacement value.

  • The judge or jury will focus on whatever reasonable standard produces the highest of the possible values.  
  • Your Des Moines receiving stolen property attorney can help you come up with arguments about the value of the property taken.

Jury Inference of Guilt

The judge or jury can infer that you knew property was stolen if:

  • You're in possession of stolen property that was taken from different people at separate times .
  • You're a dealer or someone else familiar with how much the property is worth and you paid far less than its reasonable value for it.

Often, this issue comes up in the context of theft of a motor vehicle.  Stolen cars and parts of a stolen motor vehicle are often sold at way under value.  If you’re paying dramatically less for a car than what others think its worth, the judge and jury might think you probably knew there was a reason the motor vehicle was so cheap.

Iowa Code 714.1(4).

Pawnshop in Possession of Stolen Property

Pawn shop owners may also come under scrutiny.  Historically, pawnshops have been common places for thieves to unload their stolen property for quick cash.

Pawn shops have a reason to be skeptical of property sold or pledged to them. Iowa Code 714.28 concerns claims against purchased or pledged goods held by pawnbrokers.

In Iowa, if a claimant says that a pawnbroker is in possession of their property, they can notify the pawnbroker by certified mail with return receipt requested or in person with a signed receipt.

The notice has to completely and accurately describe the property. In addition to the notice, the claimant has to give the pawnbroker a copy of the police report for theft.

Pawnbrokers only get ten days to sort this out after they get the notice. After that ten days, the claimant can file in small claims court to get the property back. If this happens, the pawnbroker has to hold onto the property that's at issue in the small claims action until the parties or the courts straighten things out.

If the court finds the property was stolen, embezzled, converted, or otherwise wrongfully appropriated against the will of the rightful owner, it will order that the property is returned to the claimant. Additionally, the pawnbroker will have to pay the claimant the costs of the action. (On the other end of it, if the claimant doesn't follow the rules or if the court finds in favor of the defendant, the claimant has to pay the defendant's costs.)

If the person who sold or pledged the stolen property to the pawnshop was convicted of stealing the property, the thief has to repay the pawnshop what the pawnbroker paid them, plus service charges.

Punishment for Receiving Stolen Property in Iowa

If you get a deferred judgment instead of a conviction, you will pay a civil penalty instead of a fine. Civil penalties in the same amounts as criminal fines — for instance, if you get a deferred judgment on a theft 5th, you could get a civil penalty of $65 instead of getting a criminal fine for $65. There’s no additional 35% surcharge for civil penalties, though.

You should expect to pay restitution after any theft conviction.

If the DOT or the county treasurer thinks that you are trying to register a stolen vehicle or an embezzled vehicle, , they won’t let you register the vehicle. They won’t issue you a certificate of title and they won’t let you transfer title or registration. Iowa Code 321.30.

The county attorney might ask for the judge to order you to perform community service hours. You may be required to pay a placement fee to be placed into a local community service program.

Charged with a crime in iowa? We can help!

Call (515) 200-2787 today for a free initial consultation.

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