RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY
Receiving, concealing, possessing, buying, or transferring stolen property are typically the behaviors associated with the crimes of fencing or trafficking in stolen goods. Receiving is generally defined as a single act, while concealing, possessing, buying, and transferring are conceived of as continuing acts. Fencing or trafficking are the continuing acts of being a middleman or distributor. The crime of receiving stolen property is a specific intent crime requiring proof that the person gained control over an item, knew that the item was obtained in a criminal manner, and (at any level of intent) intended to permanently deprive the rightful owner of his or her interest in the property. Control of the property can be actual or constructive, and it’s the material fact of the item being stolen that matters, not the belief that it’s stolen. If someone hides something they think is stolen, but it is not in fact stolen, then they have not received anything stolen. The level of mens rea is lessened in this crime to include negligence because a person should know, for example, that when they get “too good” a deal on something, it’s probably stolen. This lowered culpability requirement is aimed at junk dealers and pawnbrokers.
“Knowledge that goods are stolen is an essential element of the crime of receiving stolen goods (Sanford v. State, 4 Ga. App. 449, 61 SE 741; O’Connell v. State, 55 Ga. 191), and this knowledge on the part of the accused must be proved, to warrant a conviction under the Penal Code 168 [now 26-2620] (Stripland v. State, 114 Ga. 843, 40 SE 993); but it may be inferred from circumstances ( Birdsong v. State, 120 Ga. 850, 48 SE 329; Rivers v. State, 118 Ga. 42-45, 44 SE 859), where the circumstances shown would excite suspicion in the minds of ordinarily prudent men (Cobb v. State, 76 Ga. 664; Cobb v. State, 78 Ga. 801, 2 SE 628); and ‘the rule is too well settled to be disturbed, that the possession of stolen property immediately after it is stolen puts upon the possessor the burden of proving that his was not a guilty possession.’ Daniel v. State, 65 Ga. 200; Wiley v. State, 3 Ga. App. 120 (2), 123 (59 SE 438).” Williams v. State, 16 Ga. App. 697 (6) (85 SE 973).
Buying at a price grossly less than value is a circumstance sufficient to excite suspicion and when that it shown a conviction is authorized. Pharr v. State, 26 Ga. App. 433 (106 SE 306). If it had sufficiently appeared in the evidence here that the defendant purchased oysters valued at $184 for $35, as is suggested may have been the case by the statement of his own witness, we should have no hesitancy in affirming. But it does not. For aught that appears in this record the defendant may have paid full value for the oysters. True enough, the suggestion of that is strongly refuted by his denial that he purchased any oysters from the thieves, though admitting that they came to the place where they claim to have sold them to him, that he was there and that he saw them. This circumstance, if buttressed by evidence as to the sale at a price disproportionate to value would certainly have been ample to support a conviction. If the defendant had been found in possession of the oysters shortly after they were stolen the evidence would have been enough–but that was not the case.