Separate Conviction on Receiving Stolen Property from Different Victims

In People v. Smith (1945) 26 Cal. 2d 854 161 P.2d 941, the court addressed whether a defendant who received in a single transaction property stolen from three different victims could be convicted of three separate counts of receiving stolen property. The court held that he could only be convicted of one count of receiving. In so holding, the court stated "the gist of the offense is the purchase or receipt of the stolen goods with guilty knowledge but the particular ownership of the goods is not an element of the crime. Neither the legal nor moral character of the act is affected in any way by the fact that the stolen property may have belonged to several persons rather than to a single person." The court found "further support . . . by analogy in the authorities dealing with the crime of larceny, which authorities hold that the theft of several articles at one and the same time constitutes but one offense although such articles belong to several different owners. (See Wharton's Criminal Law (vol. 2) 1171, p. 1489; State v. Sampson, 157 Iowa 257 138 N.W. 473, 42 L.R.A.N.S. 967, and exhaustive note.)" (Id. at p. 859; see also People v. Lyons (1958) 50 Cal. 2d 245, 275 324 P.2d 556 holding that a defendant who received on a single occasion a watch and a fur coat owned by different people committed only one offense of receiving stolen property.)