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Person commits offense of theft by receiving stolen property when he (1) receives,

disposes of, or retains stolen property, and (2) knew or should have known that
property was stolen. O.C.G.A. 1687(a).

In interpreting the statute, the court has interpreted the statutes first prong to mean that mere
proximity to stolen property does not establish possession or control, for purposes of the offense
of theft by receiving stolen property. Therefore, In re D.J., riding in stolen vehicle as a passenger
did not support a conviction for theft by receiving unless defendant had, at some point, acquired
possession of or control vehicle, which he had not done by merely riding in the vehicle. In re
D.J., 253 Ga. App. 265, 558 S.E.2d 806 (2002). Summarizing current case law, the decision in
Higginbotham explained that Unexplained possession of recently stolen goods can be used in
conjunction with other evidence to infer guilty knowledge, but standing alone it will not support
the inference or authorize a conviction. Higginbotham v. State, 124 Ga.App. 489.
In interpreting the statutes second prong, juvenile and adult courts agree that guilty knowledge,
necessary to convict person of bringing into state any property which he knows or should know
has been stolen in another state can be established by direct or circumstantial evidence and thus
can be inferred from circumstances which would, in opinion of fact finder, lead reasonable
person to believe that property was stolen. See Cunningham v. State, 1996, 222 Ga.App. 740. Or,
summarizing the rule, guilty knowledge may be inferred from circumstances which would
excite suspicion in the mind of an ordinary prudent [person]. [Cits.] Watts v. State, 157 Ga.App.
214 (1981).
I believe the best case for arguing insufficiency of evidence is in In re J.Q.W., which focuses in
on the first prong: proving reception has more wiggle room than the prudential man test.
On appeal In re J.Q.W., the Court of Appeals of Georgia ruled that evidence was insufficient to
establish that the juvenile either directly committed crime or was party to crime so as to support
adjudication of delinquency for theft by receiving stolen motor vehicle. There was no evidence
juvenile exercised power or control over vehicle, such as by driving it or controlling where it
would go or whom it would transport. His connection to the car was substantial, however, in that
he assisted with its refueling before a high speed police chase. In re J.Q.W., 288 Ga. App. 444,
654 S.E.2d 424 (2007).
A similar determination was made in C.W. There the court held that evidence was insufficient to
support delinquency finding based on theft by receiving stolen van, though juvenile admitted
being in the van while another passenger shot at an acquaintance in a drive-by shooting, where
evidence suggested that juvenile did not ever control van, that van was driven by acquaintance
who acquired it from crack addict, who traded it for cocaine, that juvenile did not aid or abet the
crime, and that he was simply along for the ride. In Interest of C.W., 226 Ga. App. 30, 485
S.E.2d 561 (1997).
See also In re D.J., where evidence was insufficient to support finding that juvenile defendant
possessed or controlled stolen vehicle although juvenile co-defendant who was driving stolen
vehicle when police officer stopped vehicle testified that juvenile defendant was initially driving
van.In re D.J., 2002, 253 Ga.App. 265.

Combined these there cases are helpful because even if the keys were found in our defendants
pocket, mere proximity is not enough to establish control. And even if someone else testifies that
he had control, without other evidence there is still not enough evidence to establish control.
But see also In re C.S. There circumstantial evidence was sufficient to support adjudication of
delinquency for theft by receiving stolen property; stolen vehicle was found within walking
distance of juvenile's house, juvenile possessed key to stolen vehicle and, in view of his age of
14 years, could have no legitimate reason for having key, juvenile's brother stated that juvenile
had been bragging about driving a silver car, and stolen vehicle was silver. In re C.S., 2007, 284
Ga.App. 759, 644 S.E.2d 894.
So how can we distinguish between the two? I think it is helpful to note how much
circumstantial evidence for control appears In re C.S., the juvenile defendant parked the car near
his homenot a third partys location, the juvenile defendant had the keys like our defendant,
there was no way he could have a legitimate car driving experience at 14 and there was credible
testimony to the contrary.
So the distinguishing features here seem to be that there is a presumption in favor of avoiding
delinquent holdings for individuals who get caught, though had no criminal intent, even if it
means allowing some that actually intended to steal go free.