By Tedia Gamino

Buying second-hand items online has become commonplace. But what if the goods you purchased were stolen? Is it possible that you could be arrested and go to jail? It depends.

Did You Know the Items You Bought Were Stolen?

You can be penalized if you knew the goods you purchased were stolen; otherwise, there was no crime on your part. Different states have varying penalties for knowingly buying stolen goods. In California, for example, you’ll receive a misdemeanor penalty for knowingly buying or receiving stolen goods. The same applies to New York State—you can only be penalized if you buy or receive property that you know was stolen.

What Are the Penalties in Wisconsin for Knowingly Buying Stolen Goods?

In Wisconsin, if you knowingly buy or receive stolen goods the penalties are determined by the value of the property. Here’s the breakdown:

If you knowingly buy or receive stolen goods that are valued at $2,500 or less you’ could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which could mean up to 9 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you knowingly buy or receive stolen goods that are valued at more than $2,500, the offense becomes a Class I felony. That means you could get a 3-year, 6-month prison sentence, or a fine of up to $10,000—or both.

Laws for Pawn Shops, Flea Markets, and Swap Meets

Pawn shops, flea markets, and swap meets can be notorious for handling stolen property. While the law protects you from going to jail for unknowingly buying stolen property, it requires that pawn shops, flea markets, and thrift stores thoroughly research second-hand goods to ensure that they aren’t buying stolen property.

So What Do You Do With the Stolen Goods You Purchased?

The law requires that you return the stolen property to its rightful owner. The person who sold you the stolen property will be liable to pay you restitution.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Criminal Charges for Handling Stolen Property?

If you’ve been charged with handling stolen property, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys who can provide the guidance you need.

By Attorney Tedia Gamino