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Possessing stolen property in the third degree in Washington State

In Washington State a misdemeanor Possessing stolen property 3rd degree offense can have a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.  If you are convicted of a misdemeanor you could be facing jail time and trouble securing employment in the future. If you have been charged with Possessing stolen property in the 1st or 2nd degree you are facing felony charges.

Often times Possessing stolen property 3rd degree charges are prosecuted in city courts with differing procedures and penalties. Although a Possessing stolen property charge may sounds relatively harmless, but it can have a long-lasting impact on your ability to obtain housing, find employment and attend institutions of higher education. Additionally, property crimes theft related convictions create significant barriers to employment for many people. If convicted many employers will simply pass over your application for years to come. Additionally, government employment and military service may be impossible.

Employment Consequences

Although a misdemeanor charge may sound relatively harmless, it can have a long-lasting impact on your ability to obtain housing, find employment and attend institutions of higher education.  Property crimes like theft and possession of stolen property create significant barriers to employment for many people. This is because the official entry on your criminal record will be theft related.

Most corporations and even small companies today perform pre-employment background checks and screening. Once a potential employer is notified of a theft related conviction, your chances at obtaining that job are slim to none. Additionally, the potential employer is unlikely to advise you of the reason why your application was rejected. A stolen property conviction can make you virtually unemployable.


The Key element of the crime of "Possession of Stolen Property" is the term Knowingly. You MUST know that the property was stolen in order to be convicted for this crime.  In many cases the person charged with the crime was not aware that the property was stolen. If this is the case then you have an legal defense to possession of stolen property charges.  Additionally, the burden of proof rests with the prosecutor to prove that you were aware the item was stolen. You need not prove that you did not know this fact.

Washington State Law Possession of Stolen Property:

RCW 9A.56.140

(1) "Possessing stolen property" means knowingly to receive, retain, possess, conceal, or dispose of stolen property knowing that it has been stolen and to withhold or appropriate the same to the use of any person other than the true owner or person entitled thereto.

     (2) The fact that the person who stole the property has not been convicted, apprehended, or identified is not a defense to a charge of possessing stolen property.

     (3) When a person has in his or her possession, or under his or her control, stolen access devices issued in the names of two or more persons, or ten or more stolen merchandise pallets, or ten or more stolen beverage crates, or a combination of ten or more stolen merchandise pallets and beverage crates, as defined under RCW 9A.56.010, he or she is presumed to know that they are stolen.

     (4) The presumption in subsection (3) of this section is rebuttable by evidence raising a reasonable inference that the possession of such stolen access devices, merchandise pallets, or beverage crates was without knowledge that they were stolen.

     (5) In any prosecution for possessing stolen property, it is a sufficient defense that the property was merchandise pallets that were received by a pallet recycler or repairer in the ordinary course of its business.


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