ASSEMBLY, No. 1133

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  ELEASE EVANS

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman  GORDON M. JOHNSON

District 37 (Bergen)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Conners, Caputo, Egan, Green, Assemblywoman Tucker, Assemblymen Ryan, Wilson and Giblin

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Prohibits false or secret compartments in motor vehicles under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning false compartments and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  a.  Any  person who, acting with an unlawful purpose, knowingly owns, operates or possesses a motor vehicle which contains a false or secret compartment with the intent to store, conceal, camouflage, hide, smuggle transport or prevent discovery of a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or other contraband within the false compartment is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

     b.  Any person who, acting with an unlawful purpose,  knowingly designs, assembles, constructs, builds, alters, fabricates, attaches, fortifies, installs, places, causes to be placed or maintains a false compartment in a motor vehicle with the intent to store, conceal, camouflage, hide, smuggle transport or prevent discovery of a  person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or other contraband within the false compartment is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

     It shall not be a defense that the false or secret compartment was inoperable or was not actually triggered, or that its existence or location was known to a law enforcement officer or another person.

     c.  As used in this section,

     "False or secret compartment " means any box, container, space or enclosure that is intended or designed to be used to store, conceal, camouflage, hide, smuggle, transport or prevent discovery of a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or contraband within or attached to a motor vehicle, including but not limited to, any of the following: (1) false, altered or modified fuel tanks; (2) original factory equipment of a vehicle that is modified, altered or changed; or (3) compartment, space, or box that is added to or fabricated, made or created from existing compartments, spaces or boxes within a vehicle.

     d.  For the purpose of this section, a person's intention to use a false or secret compartment to conceal the contents of the compartment from a law enforcement officer shall be inferred from factors including, but not limited to, the discovery of a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or  other contraband within the false  or secret compartment, or from the discovery of evidence of the previous placement of  a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or other contraband within the false or secret compartment.

     e.  Any motor vehicle containing a false or secret compartment and any items within that compartment shall be subject to forfeiture and may be seized by the State or any law enforcement officer in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.2C:64-1 et seq.

     f.  Nothing herein shall be deemed to preclude, if the evidence so warrants, an indictment and conviction for any other offense defined by the laws of this State. Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8, N.J.S.2C:44-5 or any other provisions of law, a conviction under this section shall not merge with a conviction for any other criminal offense, or for  conspiring or attempting to violate any other criminal offense, nor shall the conviction for any other criminal offense merge with a conviction under this section and the sentence imposed upon a violation of this section shall be ordered to be served consecutively to that imposed upon any other conviction arising under a violation of any other criminal offense.

 

     2.  This act shall take effect on the 30th day after enactment. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would make it a crime for a person to possess, design or assemble a false or secret compartment in a motor vehicle with the intent to store, conceal, smuggle or transport a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or other contraband.

     Under the provisions of the bill, it would be a crime of the third degree for a person, acting with an unlawful purpose, to knowingly own, operate or possess a motor vehicle which contains a false or secret compartment with the intent to store, conceal, smuggle or transport a controlled dangerous substance, firearm or weapon within the false compartment.

     It would be a crime of the second degree for a person, acting with an unlawful purpose, to knowingly design, assemble, construct, build, alter, fabricate, attach, fortify, install, place, cause to be placed or maintain a false compartment in a motor vehicle with the intent to store, conceal, smuggle or transport a controlled dangerous substance, firearm or weapon within the false compartment.

     A crime of the second degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000 or both. A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.

     The bill provides that it would not be a defense that the false or secret compartment was inoperable or was not actually triggered, or that its existence or location was known to a law enforcement officer or another person.

     The bill defines a "false or secret compartment" as any box, container, space or enclosure that is intended or designed to be used to conceal, hide, and prevent discovery of a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or other contraband within or attached to a motor vehicle, including but not limited to, any of the following: (1) false, altered or modified fuel tanks; (2) original factory equipment of a vehicle that is modified, altered or changed; or (3) compartment, space, or box that is added to or fabricated, made or created from existing compartments, spaces or boxes within a vehicle.

     The bill provides that a person's intention to use a false or secret compartment to conceal the contents of the compartment from a law enforcement officer may be inferred from factors including, but not limited to, the discovery of a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or other contraband within the false or secret compartment, or from the discovery of evidence of the previous placement of a person, controlled dangerous substance, firearm, weapon or other contraband within the false or secret compartment.

     In addition, the bill would provide that any vehicle containing a false or secret compartment and any items within that compartment would be subject to forfeiture and could be seized by the State or any law enforcement officer in accordance with the provisions of the forfeiture law in N.J.S.A.2C:64-1 et seq.

     The bill would also provide that the sentence imposed for violating the provisions of the bill would not merge with a conviction of any other criminal offense, or for conspiring or attempting to violate any other criminal offense.  The court would be required to impose separate sentences upon each violation of  this section and any other criminal offense.