[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 184

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  NICHOLAS P. SCUTARI

District 22 (Middlesex, Somerset and Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Upgrades offenses of engaging in unauthorized practice of law; creates civil action; provides that persons convicted of the offenses are barred from appointment as a notary public.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 10, 2011, with amendments.

  


An Act concerning the unauthorized practice of law and 1[amending P.L.1994, c.47] amending various parts of the statutory law and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes1.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 1 of P.L.1994, c.47 (C.2C:21-22)  is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a.  A person is guilty of a [disorderly persons offense] crime of the fourth degree if the person knowingly engages in the unauthorized practice of law. 

     b.    A person is guilty of a crime of the [fourth] third degree if the person knowingly engages in the unauthorized practice of law and: 

     (1)   Creates or reinforces a false impression that the person is licensed to engage in the practice of law; or 

     (2)   Derives a benefit; or     

     (3)   In fact causes injury to another.

     c.     For the  purposes of this section, the phrase "in fact" indicates strict liability. 

(cf: P.L.1994,c.47,s.1)

 

     12.   (New section)  a. Any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of any action or inaction by a person who knowingly engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of section 1 of P.L.1994, c.47 (C.2C:21-22) may bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction.

     b.    In any civil action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award damages in an amount that constitutes the greater of:

     (1)   $1,000, or

     (2)   Three times the value of all costs incurred by the victim as a result of the defendant’s criminal activity, including any fees paid to the defendant for services, costs incurred for attorneys’ fees, court costs and any out-of-pocket losses.

     c.     The standard of proof in civil actions brought under this section is a preponderance of the evidence, and the fact that a prosecution for a violation of section 1 of P.L.1994, c.47 (C.2C:21-22) is not instituted or, where instituted, terminates without a conviction shall not preclude a civil action pursuant to this section. A final judgment rendered in favor of the State in any criminal proceeding shall estop the defendant from denying the same conduct in any civil action brought pursuant to this section.

     d.    A civil action under this section shall not preclude the application of any other civil, administrative, or criminal remedy under any other provision of law.1

 

     13.   Section 1 of P.L.1997, c.1 (C.2C:21-31) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a.  As used in this section:

     (1)   "Immigration consultant" means any person  rendering services for a fee, including the completion of forms and applications, to another person in furtherance of that person's desire to determine or modify his status in an immigration or naturalization matter under federal law.

     (2)   "Immigration or naturalization matter" means any matter which involves any law, action, filing or proceeding related to a person's immigration or citizenship status in the United States.

     (3)   "Immigration-related document" means any birth certificate or marriage certificate; any document issued by the government of the United States, any foreign country, any state, or any other public entity relating to a person's immigration or naturalization status.

     b.    (1) Any immigration consultant not licensed as an attorney or counselor at law who [:

     (1)   Engages] engages in this State in the practice of law [; or] is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     (2)   [Holds] Any immigration consultant not licensed as an attorney or counselor at law who holds himself out to the public, either alone or together with, by or through another person, whether such other person is licensed as an attorney or counselor at law or not, as engaging in or entitled to engage in the practice of law, or as rendering legal service or advice, or as furnishing attorneys or counsel, in any immigration or naturalization matter [; or] is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

     (3)   [Assumes,] Any immigration consultant not licensed as an attorney or counselor at law who assumes, uses or advertises the title of lawyer or attorney at law, or equivalent terms, in the English language or any other language, is guilty of a crime of the [fourth] third degree.

     c.     Any person who knowingly retains possession of another person's immigration-related document for more than a reasonable time after the person who owns the document has submitted a written request for the document's return is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.


     d.    Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a person accredited as a representative by federal law pursuant to 8 CFR 292.2 from providing immigration services.1

(cf: P.L.1997, c.1, s.1)

 

     14.   (New section)  a. Any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of any action or inaction by a person who knowingly engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of section 1 of P.L.1997, c.1 (C.2C:21-31) may bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction.

     b.    In any civil action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award damages in an amount that constitutes the greater of:

     (1)   $1,000, or

     (2)   Three times the value of all costs incurred by the victim as a result of the defendant’s criminal activity, including any fees paid to the defendant for services, costs incurred for attorneys’ fees, court costs and any out-of-pocket losses.

     c.     The standard of proof in civil actions brought under this section is a preponderance of the evidence, and the fact that a prosecution for a violation of section 1 of P.L.1997, c.1 (C.2C:21-31) is not instituted or, where instituted, terminates without a conviction shall not preclude a civil action pursuant to this section. A final judgment rendered in favor of the State in any criminal proceeding shall estop the defendant from denying the same conduct in any civil action brought pursuant to this section.

     d.    A civil action under this section shall not preclude the application of any other civil, administrative, or criminal remedy under any other provision of law. 1

 

     15.   Section 1 of P.L.1981, c.487 (C.52:7-20) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    No person shall be appointed or reappointed a notary public if he has been convicted under the laws of this State of an offense involving dishonesty, including but not limited to a violation of section 1 of P.L.1997, c.1 (C.2C:21-31) or section 1 of P.L.1994, c.47 (C.2C:21-22), or of a crime of the second degree or above, but nothing in this section shall be deemed to supersede P.L.1968, c. 282 (C. 2A:168A-1 et seq.).1

(cf: P.L.1981, c.487, s.1)

 

     1[2.] 6.1  This act shall take effect immediately.