doctrine of recent possession

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The ‘doctrine of recent possession’ is a misnomer as it is not a doctrine and does not refer to recent possession—it refers to possession of property that has been recently stolen. The ‘doctrine’ is simply part of the principles of circumstantial evidence. It applies only to offences of handling stolen goods and is relevant to proving the mens rea of the offence. The ‘doctrine’ was explained in the case of R v Abramovitch [1914–15] All ER 204 and lays down that when a person charged with handling stolen goods is found in possession of, or dealing with, goods that have recently been stolen, a jury may infer that he is guilty if he offers no explanation of his possession or they do not believe the explanation given. The jury is not bound to draw such an inference and must only do so if they are satisfied that he has committed the offence charged.

Subjects: Law.

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