When you haven’t physically stolen property, but you receive property that has been stolen, you’ve violated California Penal Code Section 496, which basically says, unbeknownst to the owner, you’ve accepted their property. In other words, they didn’t give you permission to possess their property. Typically, when law enforcement can’t track down who actually stole the property, they’ll turn to who has it.
But what if you unwittingly received stolen property? This is what’s known as a “specific-intent” crime. The law clearly states that you cannot be punished if you did not know the property was stolen, that gaining this stolen property was accidental because you had no knowledge it was stolen at the time you acquired it. Also, the prosecutor must show that you intended to forever deprive the rightful owner of this property by doing things like hiding it, making changes to it, attaching your name to it, etc.