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State v. Holder

Decided: November 21, 1975.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PHILIP HOLDER, SR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Halpern, Crane and Michels. The opinion of the court was delivered by Halpern, P.J.A.D.

Halpern

Defendant was convicted by a jury, on a two-count indictment, of receiving a stolen tractor and a stolen trailer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:139-3. His application for a new trial was denied, and he appeals from the judgment of conviction.

Without detailing all the facts, we are satisfied from our examination of the record that the jury could find from the State's proofs that the tractor in question had been stolen in Connecticut on July 24, 1973 from its owner, Ryder Truck Rentals, and that the trailer in question had been stolen in New Jersey, on or about August 3, 1973, from its owner, T.P. Storage and Leasing Company, while it was in the custody of Thermo King, a company engaged in the business of repairing trailers. On August 9, 1973 the tractor and trailer were found in defendant's possession in Metuchen, New Jersey. When questioned by the police defendant told them he had rented and obtained possession of the tractor in New York and that he had also rented the trailer

which he took possession of in New Jersey while it was parked on the side of a roadway. The jury could infer from all the proofs presented that defendant knew the tractor and trailer had been stolen when he received them.

A distillation of defendant's testimony substantiates his story to the police as to how and where he obtained the tractor and trailer. He testified to the details as to what ownership papers were given to him by a stranger and how he had utilized the tractor and trailer until apprehended in Metuchen. He denied knowing the tractor and trailer had been stolen.

Defendant was tried under N.J.S.A. 2A:139-3 which provides:

Any person who receives or purchases a motor vehicle knowing it to have been stolen, is guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.

We turn first to the conviction concerning the tractor. Defendant contends the proofs are uncontradicted that he received the tractor in New York and, therefore, New Jersey was without jurisdiction to prosecute him under N.J.S.A. 2A:139-3. The State argues that the offense under the statute is a continuing one, and defendant's possession in New Jersey was sufficient to convict under the statute. We disagree with the State's contention. The statute proscribes the receiving or purchasing of a motor vehicle knowing it to have been stolen, and makes the offense a high misdemeanor. It is our view, although there is a paucity of authority on the subject, that the offense is not a continuing one. We interpret the statute as making it mandatory for the State to prove three elements in order to convict, namely, (a) the property in question was stolen, regardless of where it was stolen, (b) defendant either received or bought the stolen property in New Jersey and (c) he knew at the time of its receipt or purchase that it had been stolen. See

76 C.J.S. Receiving Stolen Property § 5 a(4) at 7; 2 Wharton, Criminal Law and Procedure , § 574 at 294.

Our holding is fortified by the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:119-9 which provides:

Any person who, having at any place without this state stolen the property of another, or received such property knowing it to have been stolen, brings the same ...


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