If someone gave me stolen property without telling me it was hot, should I be worried?

UPDATED: Jan 26, 2012

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If someone gave me stolen property without telling me it was hot, should I be worried?

Someone gave me something and said to hold it for a little bit. I honestly thought it was his. Then detectives came and questioned me telling me I was not in trouble, as they already had an idea who stole it and just wanted the item back. I simply gave it to them since I had no idea the item was hot and wanted it out of my home. Should I be worried or no?

Asked on January 26, 2012 under Criminal Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, you should be fine:

1) Criminal liability depends on having a criminal state of mind, or intent (called "mens rea"). If you had no idea that something was stolen--and reasonably should not have known (since "willful blindness," or deliberately "not knowing" when you should have a suspicion, is not a defense), then you should not have committed a crime.

2) There also should be no civil liabilty to the property's owner, since you turned it over to the authorities--i.e. having done that, the owner should have grounds to sue you for its return or value.

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