Federal Defense Attorneys Explain Stolen Property Crimes

federal theft defense attorneyRobbery, theft, and taking of items that do not belong to you can result in federal or state criminal charges. However, many people are not aware that you can get into serious legal trouble even if you are not the person who stole money or property – you can be charged and convicted simply for knowingly having stolen property in your possession or otherwise knowingly becoming involved with stolen property.

There are many federal statutes within the federal penal code that define criminal misconduct related to stolen property and that impose serious penalties upon defendants who become involved with property that they know has been taken from its rightful owner.

If you are convicted of a federal offense connected with stolen property, you could be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence, face other serious penalties, and be left with a criminal record that affects your future.

Because the consequences of conviction are harsh, it is important you are represented by a federal criminal defense lawyer who knows how to help you fight for your future. LV Criminal Defense is here and ready to represent and advocate for you. Our firm knows the ins-and-outs of federal laws related to stolen property and we can defend you in court or negotiate the most favorable possible plea deal on your behalf with federal prosecutors.

LV Criminal Defense has successfully represented many clients in California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, or surrounding areas who have been accused of federal offenses and we can put our considerable legal knowledge to work on your case to help you maximize the chance of ending your involvement in the federal criminal justice system in the most favorable way possible.

When you want an advocate with the knowledge and commitment to fight hard to help protect your future, you should give us a call as soon as possible.

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Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.


Federal Criminal Laws on Stolen Property

Federal criminal laws on stolen property are found in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 113. There are a total of 15 statutes within this Chapter of the federal penal code that define different kinds of criminal conduct connected with stolen property; that establish relevant definitions; and that impose penalties. These statutes include the following:

  • 18 U.S. Code section 2311 – Definitions
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2312 – Transportation of stolen vehicles
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2313 – Sale or receipt of stolen vehicles
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2314 – Transportation of stolen goods, securities, moneys, fraudulent State tax stamps, or articles used in counterfeiting
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2315 – Sale or receipt of stolen goods, securities, moneys, or fraudulent State tax stamps
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2316 – Transportation of livestock
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2317 – Sale or receipt of livestock
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2318 – Trafficking in counterfeit labels, illicit labels, or counterfeit documentation or packaging
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2319 – Criminal infringement of a copyright
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2319A – Unauthorized fixation of and trafficking in sound recordings and music videos of live musical performances
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2319B – Unauthorized recording of Motion pictures in a Motion picture exhibition facility
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2320 – Trafficking in counterfeit goods or services
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2321 – Trafficking in certain motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2322 – Chop shops
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2323 – Forfeiture, destruction, and restitution

Each of these statutes has its own specific definition and there are specific elements prosecutors would need to prove in order for you to be convicted of violating the law you have been accused of breaking.

For example, 18 U.S. Code section 2322 defines a chop shop to include any building, lot, or other structure or premises where at least one person engages in receiving, concealing, destroying, dismantling, disassembling, reassembling, or storing any passenger motor vehicle or the parts of any passenger motor vehicle that has been unlawfully obtained in order to mask the identity of the vehicle or its parts. This could include removal of the VIN number of any derivative or altering any vehicle parts.

To be convicted under this statute, the person or persons who are engaged in the unlawful activities must be taking these actions in order to sell or dispose of the vehicle or its parts in interstate or foreign commerce.

Knowingly owning, operating, maintaining or controlling a chop shop or conducting operations within a chop chop can result in a maximum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment as well as a fine if convicted.  If a defendant has prior offenses and is subsequently convicted again of involvement with a chop fine, fines and penalties are doubled.

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This is just one of many statutes in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 113 that you could be charged under when you are accused of involvement with stolen property.

An experienced federal defense lawyer will explain to you the specifics of what a prosecutor would need to prove for you to be convicted of the offense you have been accused of committing.

Auto Theft Offenses

Auto theft often results in charges on the state level. However, there are circumstances where involvement with stolen vehicles can result in federal criminal charges. For example, 18 U.S. Code section 2312 makes it a federal offense to transport stolen vehicles or any vehicle that a defendant knows to have been stolen. Transporting a stolen vehicle can result in up to 10 years of imprisonment as well as a fine under 18 U.S. Code section 2312.

The Department of Justice also makes clear that the federal government has been aggressive in responding to professional motor vehicle theft rings. As a result, defendants are punished for running chop shops, for altering motor vehicle VIN numbers, and for importing or exporting motor vehicles that have had their identification numbers falsified or removed.

Because the Department of Justice has focusing on fighting auto theft crimes, defendants can expect that federal authorities will devote extensive resources to prosecution. You need to have a skilled federal defense lawyer prepared and ready to help you fight charges.

Cyber Theft Crimes

The government is also aggressively going after defendants who have been accused of cyber theft crimes. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act defines many different types of misconduct, including accessing computers without authorization, transmitting viruses intended to cause damage to computers, unauthorized use of computers to obtain personal, financial or credit card information, fraudulent tracking in passwords, and using computers to commit fraud.

When defendants are accused of engaging in activities such as phishing or hacking to steal data or commit other cyber theft crimes, this can result in serious charges including prison time and required restitution.

Cyber theft cases are often highly technical, and not every federal defense lawyer is prepared to help clients fight charges associated with theft crimes connected to computer use.

LV Criminal Defense has extensive experience representing defendants accused of cyber crimes, and we can help you to fight for acquittal or reduced charges.

Identity Theft

In 1998, the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 was passed to make identity theft a federal offense. 18 U.S. Code section 1028 is one of the statutes aimed at fighting identity theft on a federal level and prohibits knowingly transferring means of identification with intent to commit unlawful activity, aid unlawful activity, or abet unlawful activity.

Depending upon how many identifying documents a defendant possesses and whether the identity theft is aimed at facilitating other crimes, defendants could face lengthy prison terms under 18 U.S. Code section 1028, including up to 30 years imprisonment.

There is also a federal statute related to aggravated identity theft in 18 U.S. Code Section 1028A. This statute specifies that when a defendant has been accused of a felony and the offense involved the improper transfer of someone’s personal information, the defendant can be sentenced to an additional two years of imprisonment above and beyond any penalties applicable for he underlying felony offense.

If the underlying offense related to terrorism, the aggravated identity theft statute specifies a defendant could be charged with an additional five years imprisonment in addition to terrorism penalties.

Gun Theft

There are several federal statutes that prohibit the theft of guns and impose penalties on defendants accused of firearm theft, including 18 U.S. Code sections 842 and 922. Defendants are prohibited by federal law from receiving, possessing, concealing, or storing stolen firearms, ammunition or explosives.

Defendants are also prohibited from accepting stolen firearms as security for a loan, as well as from bartering or shipping stolen firearms across state lines.  Finally, defendants are prohibited from unlawfully stealing, taking, or carrying away a firearm from a licensed person or the premises of a firearm’s licensee.

Penalties for theft of firearms could include a lengthy jail sentence, so it is important to defend yourself as soon as accusations of firearm theft have been made.

Mail Theft

Another theft offense that results in federal charges is mail theft. The federal government prohibits theft or receipt of stolen mail matter in 18 U.S. Code section 1708. According to the relevant law, anyone who steals, takes, or abstracts mail by fraud or deception can be convicted of a federal offense.

Defendants can be convicted for stealing mail from post offices, stations, letter boxes, mail receptacles, mail routes, or other depositories for mail matter. Defendants can also be convicted for stealing mail from mail carriers, or from removing letters, packages, mail or other articles from mail bags. Destroying or embezzling mail can also result in charges as can stealing mail or packages that have been left for collection or buying or unlawfully possessing stolen mail.

Penalties for stealing mail under 18 U.S. Code section 1708 could include up to five years of imprisonment and a fine.


Sentencing for theft offenses will vary depending upon the specific types of theft that you committed, as well as other factors including how the theft occurred. When you engaged in acts of violence to commit the theft or if you stolen items that receive special protections, such as weapons, you will face much more serious charges.

A federal defense lawyer can help you to understand any aggravating factors that could result in harsher penalties after you have been accused of involvement with stolen property and are facing federal charges. We can also help you to raise doubts about whether you committed the offense or to raise doubts about the value of the stolen goods, as this can impact penalties including the amount of restitution that you are required to make to victims.

Because conviction for stolen property offenses often results not only in imprisonment but financial penalties as well, it’s important you have an attorney representing your interests during the sentencing phase so you can try to reduce penalties as much as possible.

LV Criminal Defense can also help you to determine if it is advisable to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the goal of reducing penalties that could be imposed upon you if you are convicted of a federal crime related to stolen property.

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Getting Help from A Federal Defense Lawyer

LV Criminal Defense knows federal laws in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 113 and we can put our knowledge of the laws on stolen property to work to help you defend your future and freedom. Being accused of involvement with stolen property can derail your life, and conviction can mean the loss of your freedom. You need to take charges seriously and ensure you have the right advocate working on your behalf to reduce or avoid penalties.

If you live in California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, or surrounding areas, federal defense attorneys at LV Criminal Defense are ready to fight for you. Just give us a call today to find out about the ways in which we can work to secure your future and help you emerge unscathed from your involvement with the federal criminal justice system.