Fencing deals with two separate offenses under the statute N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7.1: Possession of altered property and dealing of stolen property. In both of these cases the value of the items in question can be summed together to determine the degree of crime, which can be extremely serious (click here for grading of theft offenses). In either case it is important to make sure you are well prepared and represented in your case. The LS&P Lawyers are available 24/7 for free consultation and have offices conveniently located in New Jersey.
Possession of altered property deals with the tampering of serial numbers or labels of items in a person's possession. It is illegal to have knowledge that the identifying features (labels, serial numbers) of property have been removed or altered without the consent of the manufacturer. However, it is also a reasonable defense to confirm that one has proof of possession of the property as well as possession. This sounds a little strange because it suggests that you can and can't remove identifying labels from things you possess. However, this statute involves some involvement of stolen property, so if one removes an identifying label on property which is later said to have been stolen, this constitutes possession of altered property, punishable by the degree of theft indicated by the value of the altered property.
Dealing in stolen property involves the traffic in, or initiation, organization, finance, direction, or management of trafficking in stolen property. Trafficking is defined as acquiring, possessing, or transferring, so this statute deals in the sale of stolen items. Again, the key element of this crime is the accused has knowledge that the items being trafficked are stolen, which can be assumed by the following presumptions:
- Proof that the item was sold substantially lower than market price.
- Proof that the item was sold with no relation to the place of business of the accused, or no proof of ownership besides possession, or cannot be traced by normal records of purchase.
- Proof that the person selling the property in question received the property without ascertaining that the person from which he bought it from had legal ownership of said property.
However, there are some defenses one can use against the prosecution. If one can prove he had no knowledge that it was stolen, there is no basis for conviction. Also, if one believed to have legal rights to the property in question or the legal right to receive or dispose of it like he did, there is no basis for conviction.
If you have any questions please contact LS&P Lawyers. We can provide free consultation 24/7 and experienced legal representation for any of your criminal defense needs.