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CHARLES H. THOMPSON v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

OCTOBER 10, 1984

CHARLES H. THOMPSON
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, DAN LEE AND ROBERTSON

DAN LEE, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This is an appeal from the Circuit Court of Jones County wherein the appellant, Charles H. Thompson, was found guilty of knowingly possessing stolen property: a set of silver flatware allegedly belonging to Mitsy Harding. Thompson was sentenced to serve a term of four years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. From his

conviction and sentence he brings this appeal. We reverse.

 Thompson was indicted for violation of 97-17-69 Miss. Code Ann. (1972). That section reads:

 If a person buy or receive in any manner or on any consideration personal property of any value, feloniously taken away from another, knowing the same to have been so taken, he shall be guilty of receiving stolen goods, and, on conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary not more than five years, or by imprisonment in the county jail not more than six months, and by fine, no more than two hundred and fifty dollars.

 Perhaps the clearest pronouncement of this Court as to the requirements of proof needed to secure a conviction for violation of 97-17-69 appears in Johnson v. State, 247 So.2d 697 (Miss. 1971). We therefore quote extensively from that opinion:

 In Sanford v. State, 155 Miss. 295, 124 So. 353 (1929), we stated:

 The unexplained possession of stolen property shortly after the commission of a larceny is a circumstance from which guilt of the larceny may be inferred, but no inference can be drawn therefrom alone that the one in possession of the property received it from another knowing that it had been stolen. Sartorious v. State, 24 Miss. 602; Manning v. State, 129 Miss. 179, 91 So. 902. (155 Miss. at 297, 124 So. at 353).

 Again, in Crowell v. State, 195 Miss. 427, 15 So.2d 508 (1943), we stated:

 * * * One guilty of larceny or burglary necessarily knows the facts and circumstances connected with the crime, but in a prosecution for receiving stolen property, guilty knowledge is the very gist of the offense. Such knowledge must be

 both alleged and proved. * * * (195 Miss. at 436, 15 So.2d at 511)

 And, further, in Crowell, while discussing the propriety of an instruction, we said:

 From the foregoing authorities, we conclude that it is never proper in a case for receiving stolen goods knowing them to have been stolen, for the jury to be instructed, in effect, that the unexplained possession alone of such recently stolen property is either a circumstance from which guilt may be inferred or that such possession is a circumstance strongly indicative of guilt which will justify, support, or warrant a verdict for the state, where such possession is unaided by other proof tending to show that the accused received such property knowing it to have been stolen. (Emphasis added) (195 Miss. at 436, 437, 15 So.2d at 511)

 More recently, in the case of Madere v. State, 227 So.2d 278 (Miss. 1969), it was necessary to reverse a conviction of receiving stolen property where an instruction was granted for the state which permitted the jury to infer from the fact of possession of recently stolen property knowing the same to have been lately stolen. From these authorities, and others not necessary to cite, it is well established in the criminal jurisprudence of this state that guilty ...


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