fence | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

In the context of crime, a fence is a person or business that knowingly buys stolen goods for resale at a profit.

Fencing operations can range from small, informal “mom and pop” operations to large, sophisticated criminal enterprises.

Fencing is often associated with organized crime and can include a wide range of stolen items, from household goods and electronics to jewelry, art, and vehicles. Fences typically pay low prices for stolen items, and then resell them for a much higher price, often at legitimate businesses such as pawn shops, retail stores, or online marketplaces.

The fencing operation itself is often considered a criminal act, and it could be punished as a separate crime, but it’s also considered as an accessory to the main crime of theft. It’s different across jurisdiction but this could lead to criminal charges such as receiving stolen property, or possession of stolen property.

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Last Modified: 01/11/2023


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