If I unknowingly bought stolen property, can the original owner file a civil lawsuit against me?

I unknowingly bought stolen photography equipment from an artist and sold some of it on craigslist. After some days, a PI came to my house and told me that the equipment was stolen from a rental company. I went to the cops and they confiscated some of the equipment. I was left with just one equipment out of the rest. Now, the PI is asking me to return all of the equipment back to the original owner or face a civil lawsuit. How can I protect myself from losing more money/equipment? I have not received any notice from the court or the cops asking me to return anything. Can they even file a suit?

Asked on July 12, 2012 under Criminal Law, Texas


Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You more than likely will not be charged with receiving and concealing stolen property as there was no knowledge on your part that the items were stolen. Likewise, it will be quite difficult in a civil suit to show that you had any intent to defraud the original owner in your purchase of the items from a third party, thus a civil suit in this matter is unlikely as well. This does not mean that the original owner can not file a civil suit, but it means that his/her suit does not have a strong legal leg to stand on.

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