What Happens if I Unknowingly Buy a Stolen Item?

Obtaining Stolen Property in Florida

Technology has revolutionized the way that people shop. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay are only some of the sites that consumers worldwide utilize to find secondhand goods at discounted costs. Unfortunately, some of these prices are too good to be true, as they are a result of a criminal’s attempt to resell stolen property for a quick profit.

Under Florida law, it is illegal to traffic or attempt to traffic stolen goods. While this can happen unbeknownst to the shopper, prosecutors can still attempt to convict an individual using circumstantial evidence to assert that the buyer should have known that the sale wasn’t legitimate.

Dealing in Stolen Property

Prosecutors will be tasked with proving certain facts in order to convict a shopper of dealing in stolen property. To be found guilty, the defendant must have:

  • Trafficked or attempted to traffic property while knowing, or while they should have known, it was stolen
  • Initiated, planned, or financed theft and the trafficking of the stolen property

If you are found guilty of dealing in stolen property, you face a second-degree felony charge and a prison sentence of up to 15 years. However, if it is decided that you are responsible for organizing the larger operation of thievery, you face a first-degree felony charge punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Defending Against Dealing in Stolen Property Accusations

The prosecution will work to prove your intent. We will work to defend it.

Florida courts outline some rebuttable inferences of a defendant’s knowledge, including:

  • Proving that the item was recently stolen, and the defendant knew or should have known
  • Proving that the item was bought at a price significantly lower than fair market value, therefore requiring that the defendant provide an explanation for this
  • Proving that the sale of the stolen property by a dealer was unusual, therefore requiring that the defendant provide an explanation for why they thought it was reasonable
  • Proving that the dealer was in possession of stolen property where the identifying information of the true owner is displayed somewhere on the property
  • Proving that, when the property is a motor vehicle, that the ignition has been bypassed or broken

Our lawyers can help defend your purchase. Our defense will be tailored to your case as we work to show that:

  • The property was not stolen
  • You believed the seller had rights to the property
  • You were ignorant to the fact that the item was stolen
  • There is a lack of evidence proving guilt

The online marketplace offers a wide variety of products at affordable prices. If your pursuit of a deal earned you a criminal accusation, contact Hubbs Law Firm. Our attorneys will fight to defend you and your future.


Please note that by reading this blog you are not entering into an attorney-client relationship with Hubbs Law, P.A. This blog only provides general legal information. Every case is unique and you should request a consultation to ensure that you are getting the correct legal advice for your specific case.