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What is Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (CPSP) in NYC?

In New York, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charges result from allegations of the knowing possession of stolen property with the intent to benefit himself, herself or any person other than the owner. There is an important presumption in New York.

There are 5 degrees of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charges in New York. The 5 degrees of the crime are mostly related to the value of the allegedly possessed by a person who is charged. The one exception is Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Fourth degree charge includes 6 specific types of property that are not related to value.

Degrees of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in New York

CPSP DegreeValue of PropertyCrime ClassMax Prison (1st Offense)
CPSP in the Fifth Degree
Penal Law Section 165.40
Any valueClass A Misdemeanor 1 year
(jail is unlikely)
CPSP in the Fourth Degree
Penal Law Section 165.45
More than $1,000 to $3,000Class E Felony 1 1/3 to 4 years
(jail is not mandatory)
CPSP in the Third Degree
Penal Law Section 165.50
More than $3,000 to $50,000Class D Felony2 1/3 to 7 years
(jail is not mandatory)
CPSP in the Second Degree
Penal Law Section 165.52
More than $50,000 to $1,000,000Class C Felony5 to 15 years
(jail is not mandatory)
CPSP in the First Degree
Penal Law Section 165.54
More than $1,000,000Class B Felony8 1/3 to 25 years
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Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Elements in New York

The definition of a Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge in New York is when a person “knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof.” There are three important terms in the charge: knowingly, possesses and stolen property.

CPSP Lawyer NYCFirst, the term knowingly is defined in New York under Penal Law Section 15.05(2) as “A person acts knowingly with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware that his conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists.” That means that for a Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge to be valid, the person accused must be aware that he or she is in possession of property and is aware that such property is stolen.

Thus, it is a defense to a Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge that a person did not know the property in question was allegedly stolen. The proof of knowledge about the status of property depends on the allegations of each case. Police and prosecutors often argue that such knowledge must be inferred from the allegations. An experienced and aggressive defense attorney may be able to refute the claim that a person knowingly possessed stolen property.

Second, the term possess is defined in New York in Penal Laws Section 10.00(8) as “to have physical possession or otherwise to exercise dominion or control over tangible property.” Physical possession, like it sounds, when property is allegedly on a person. That could mean that property a person is either holding the property in his or her hand or is carrying it in or on his or her body or person. The key to the allegation of physical possession is that a person is touching the property either directly or holding something that contains the property.

An allegation of dominion and control of property is looser than physical possession. A person who exercises dominion or control over property that is not in his or her physical possession is alleged to have that property in his or her constructive possession. A person’s constructive possession of physical property when that person exercises a level of control over the area in which the property is found, or over the person from whom the property is seized, sufficient to give him or her the ability to use or dispose of the property. For example, property found in a car that a person is driving may exercise dominion or control of the property.

Of course, there are many defenses when a number of people have access to the area where a person is alleged to have dominion or control of the property. To stretch the terms of dominion and control, police and prosecutors often claim that multiple people have dominion or control of tangible property.

Under the law in New York, two or more people may have property in their joint constructive possession when they each exercise dominion or control over the property by a sufficient level of control over the area in which the property is found or over the person from whom the property is seized to give each of them the ability to use or dispose of the property. Once again, an experienced defense attorney may be able to poke a hole through a Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge that rests on an allegation of dominion and control of tangible property by multipole people.

Third, stolen property is the most important term in a Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge. If a person has a right of ownership of the property then the property is not stolen. (In most cases, the right of possession must be superior to the person claiming to be an owner.) In addition, if the person accused has permission to possesses property from an owner then the Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge is likely invalid. The word property means money, personal property or thing of value.

New York Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Presumptions

In New York, there are 4 presumptions written into Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charges. These presumptions address the alleged knowledge that a person knew that property was stolen and they act as a disadvantage to a person facing an allegation of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. However, a knowledgeable defense attorney may be overcome the presumption in your case.  The 4 presumptions are:

  • A person who knowingly possesses stolen property is presumed to possess it with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof
  • A person who possesses 2 or more stolen credit cards, debit cards or public benefit cards is presumed to know that such credit cards, debit cards or public benefit cards were stolen
  • A collateral loan broker or a person in the business of buying, selling or otherwise dealing in property who possesses stolen property is presumed to know that such property was stolen if he obtained it without having ascertained by reasonable inquiry that the person from whom he obtained it had a legal right to possess it
  • A person who possesses 3 or more tickets or equivalent instrument for air transportation service, which tickets or instruments were stolen by reason of having been obtained from the issuer or agent thereof by the use of one or more stolen or forged credit cards, is presumed to know that such tickets or instruments were stolen

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Credit Card and Debit Card Presumptions in New York

The most common presumption in New York Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charges involves credit cards, debit cards and public benefit cards. The presumption states,

“A person who possesses 2 or more stolen credit cards, debit cards or public benefit cards is presumed to know that such credit cards, debit cards or public benefit cards were stolen.”

That means if a person is found with at least 2 of the 3 types of list cards and the police and prosecutors can show that the cards were stolen that a Judge or jury may conclude that the person charged knew that the cards were stolen.  If, for example, a credit card or debit card is stolen, then the owner typically calls the issuer or bank to report the card stolen. This is usually how police and prosecutors show that a card in question was allegedly stolen. This presumption can be problematic for a person charged, but it is not impossible to overcome.

Larceny Charges vs. Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Charges

Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property are often but not always charged together in New York. The 2 charges are similar, but there is a difference. In New York Larceny charges are brought when a person with the intent to deprive another of property he or she wrongfully takes or obtains property. That means that there must be some evidence of the taking. The witness in Larceny charges tend to be a person like a security guard or other eyewitness, but it could also be video surveillance. On the other hand, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charges focuses on the alleged knowing possession of the stolen property.

For example, if police have evidence relating to the alleged wrongful taking of property that does not belong to a person, then a person may be charged with Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. That’s because there may be evidence of the alleged taking of the property. And a person possesses property when they take it. However, if police have evidence of the alleged possession of the stolen property, but not of the alleged taking, then there will only be a Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge.

If a person is charged with both Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property for the same property that is allegedly stolen, it does not mean that the punishment will be double. First, an aggressive defense lawyer may be able to obtain dismissal of all of the charges or a favorable plea bargain. In the event of a conviction to both Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property for the same allegedly stolen property, then the act is considered the same transaction so the sentence only applies once.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Charges and Drug Diversion in New York

New York City Criminal Possession of Stolen Property LawyerIn some felony Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Charges where the evidence may be strong, there may be the option of participating in Drug Diversion or Judicial Diversion. Successful completion of Judicial Diversion ultimately leads to the dismissal of charges. However, the process usually takes more than a year and strict compliance with treatment is required.

Judicial diversion allows a person a chance to treat substance abuse or alcohol dependency with the chance to dismiss any charges. Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree are both eligible for Judicial Diversion.

Judicial diversion begins with an assessment to determine what if any treatment a person may need and if there is a relationship between the charges and abuse of drugs or alcohol.

After an assessment a Judge must make the following findings to enter Judicial diversion: (1) a person has a history of dependence; (2) the abuse or dependence is a factor in the  Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge; (3) the abuse or dependence could be addressed in Judicial Diversion; and (4) jail is not necessary to protect the public.

The challenge of Judicial Diversion is that before treatment begins a person must plead guilty to the felony Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charge and sign a contract that explains the consequences if a person does not successfully complete their treatment program. The contract lists the jail term that will be imposed if a person does not complete Judicial Diversion or if the person is re-arrested during treatment. If a person does not successfully complete Judicial Diversion, then he or she will have a permanent felony record and will serve time in prison.

Each person’s program is different and is designed for the person charged. The first part of the program is usually a detox and then continues with on average with 1 year of treatment. The rules of Judicial Diversion are strict and they require complete compliance. If a person does not follow their treatment plan or tests positive for a substance then, he or she will lose a certain period and the duration of the program will be extended. It is possible that a person can be terminated from Judicial Diversion for repeat violations resulting in a permanent criminal record and time in prison. However, the successful completion of Judicial Diversion results in the dismissal of the felony charges.

Hiring a New York City Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Lawyer

The criminal justice system is complex and can be intimidating and confusing, especially in New York. Hiring the right New York Stolen Property Possession attorney is crucial in obtaining the ideal outcome when one is charged with a CPSP crime in NYC.

The best New York City Criminal Possession of Stolen Property lawyer is experienced, aggressive and knowledgeable. As a former prosecutor in Manhattan, I have the experience and knowledge from both prosecuting CPSP charges, and aggressively defending people against CPSP charges in NYC.

Speak With a NYC Stolen Property Possession Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in New York City, we’re here to help. Contacting a CPSP lawyer early in your case is important. A knowledgeable and aggressive CPSP lawyer may be able to have the charges completely dismissed based on the facts that are different in every case. In the alternative, a CPSP lawyer may be able to negotiate a favorable bargain to a non-criminal outcome or a lesser charge.

Contact The Law Firm of Andrew M. Stengel

Contact us via the live chat below, through our contact form here, or call us at  (212) 634-9222. Initial consultations are free and confidential, and you will speak with Andrew M. Stengel directly.

Our offices are located at 11 Broadway, Suite 615, New York, NY 10004, and we handle cases throughout New York City, Nassau, Westchester and the surrounding counties.

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