18 U.S.C § 2314 - Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property
It's a federal crime under 18 U.S.C. 2314 to transport stolen goods over state lines when you know the property was stolen. Suppose you receive, possess, sell, or conceal stolen goods. In that case, you could be charged and punished under 18 U.S.C. 2315, sale or receipt of stolen goods, securities, or money.
Notably, criminal charges for transporting stolen goods require transferring any allegedly stolen items with a value exceeding $5,000 through interstate commerce. Also, it must be shown that you knew the goods were stolen, converted, or taken by fraud when you received them.
Several federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), investigate these offenses. Federal crimes are prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). However, the Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO) could take a supervisory role.
18 U.S.C. 2314 says, “Whoever transports, transmits, or transfers in interstate or foreign commerce any goods, wares, merchandise, securities or money, of the value of $5,000 or more, knowing the same to have been stolen, converted or taken by fraud; or
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property using false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transports or causes to be transported, or induces any person or persons to travel in, or to be transported in interstate or foreign commerce in the execution or concealment of a scheme or artifice to defraud that person of money or property….”
This federal statute also covers tax stamps, traveler's checks, tool implements, and veterans' memorial objects. A conviction under this law carries harsh penalties. Let's review this federal law further below.
What Does the Law Say?
Most theft-related offenses are prosecuted under local state laws. 18 U.S.C 2314 primarily addresses the transportation of stolen goods, securities, money, fraudulent state tax stamps, or articles used for counterfeiting.
If the value of the stolen property exceeds $5,000 and you take it across state or international borders, you could face federal charges. However, if what you've stolen is worth at least $5000, and you decide to take it across state or international borders, your theft becomes a federal offense.
Notably, under law, there is no minimum amount to be charged with a crime in cases of fraud. Simply put, you don't have to defraud somebody of at least $5,000 to be charged and convicted.
Also, online internet activity will generally be considered interstate transport of stolen property as it will usually cross state lines.
What are the Related Federal Crimes?
18 U.S. Code Chapter 113 Stolen Property has numerous federal laws related to 18 U.S.C. 2314 transportation of stolen goods, securities, money, fraudulent state tax stamps, or articles used in counterfeiting, such as the following:
- 18 U.S.C. 2311 – Definitions;
- 18 U.S.C. 2312 – Transportation of stolen vehicles;
- 18 U.S.C. 2313 – Sale or receipt of stolen vehicles;
- 18 U.S.C. 2315 – Sale or receipt of stolen goods, securities, money;
- 18 U.S.C. 2316 – Transportation of livestock;
- 18 U.S.C. 2317 – Sale or receipt of livestock;
- 18 U.S.C. 2318 – Trafficking in counterfeit labels or packaging;
- 18 U.S.C. 2319 – Criminal infringement of copyright;
- 18 U.S.C. 2319A – Unauthorized fixation of and trafficking in sound recordings and music videos of live musical performances;
- 18 U.S.C. 2319B – Unauthorized recording of motion pictures;
- 18 U.S.C. 2319C – Illicit digital transmission services;
- 18 U.S.C. 2320 – Trafficking in counterfeit goods or services;
- 18 U.S.C. 2321 – Trafficking in certain motor vehicles or parts;
- 18 U.S.C. 2312 – Chop shops;
- 18 U.S.C. 2323 – Forfeiture, destruction, and restitution;
- 18 U.S.C. 1341 – Mail fraud;
- 18 U.S.C. 659 – Theft from an interstate shipment.
Further, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act (NMVT) makes it a federal crime to transport a motor vehicle, aircraft, or other types of vessels across state lines knowing they were stolen.
What are the Penalties?
Suppose you are found guilty of interstate transportation of stolen property. In that case, you could be fined and sentenced to up to ten years in federal prison.
However, there are some exceptions. For example, suppose you are accused of stealing pre-retail medical equipment and transporting it across state lines. In that case, you could be charged under 18 U.S.C. 670, theft of medical products, resulting in a sentence of up to 15 years.
What are the Defenses for 18 U.S.C. 2314?
A prosecutor must meet specific criteria to prove you are guilty of interstate transport of stolen property.
They must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you transported or caused to be transported a stolen item with a value that exceeds $5000 and that you had full knowledge the items were stolen.
Perhaps we can argue that the items don't exceed the value of $5k, making the case a state matter. Simply put, we could dispute the value of the alleged stolen items.
Perhaps we can argue that you didn't know what you were transporting was stolen. Maybe you were moving the items for another person. Perhaps we can say that you purchased the items not knowing they had been stolen.
Perhaps we can argue that the stolen property did not cross state lines or that there was no intent to intent to keep the items permanently.
Perhaps we could negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the federal prosecutor if guilt is not doubted. We offer a free case evaluation by phone or using the contact form. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.