SENATE, No. 2166

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JULY 1, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  CHRISTOPHER J. CONNORS

District 9 (Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean)

Senator  JEFF VAN DREW

District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Creates new offense of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act creating the offense of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person, amending N.J.S.2C:20-1 and N.J.S.2C:20-2 and supplementing chapter 20 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    (New section)  a.  An actor commits the offense of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person when, being in a position of trust to a person whom the actor knew was a senior citizen or a person with a disability, the actor commits a violation of an offense defined in Chapter 20 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes against the senior citizen or person with a disability.

     b.    As used in this act, a “senior citizen” and a “person with a disability” shall have the same meaning as in subsections w. and x. of N.J.S.2C:20-1.  “Position of trust” shall have the meaning defined in subsection y. of N.J.S.2C:20-1.

     c.     Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8 or any other provision of law to the contrary, a conviction of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person shall not merge with a conviction of any of the underlying offenses referred to in subsection a. of this section, nor shall any conviction for the underlying offense merge with a conviction of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person.  The court shall impose separate sentences upon a conviction for theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person and a conviction of the underlying offense.

 

     2.    N.J.S.2C:20-1 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:20-1.  Definitions.  In chapters 20 and 21, unless a different meaning plainly is required:

     a.     "Deprive" means: (1) to withhold or cause to be withheld property of another permanently or for so extended a period as to appropriate a substantial portion of its economic value, or with purpose to restore only upon payment of reward or other compensation; or (2) to dispose or cause disposal of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it.

     b.    "Fiduciary" means an executor, general administrator of an intestate, administrator with the will annexed, substituted administrator, guardian, substituted guardian, trustee under any trust, express, implied, resulting or constructive, substituted trustee, executor, conservator, curator, receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, assignee for the benefit of creditors, partner, agent or officer of a
corporation, public or private, temporary administrator, administrator, administrator pendente lite, administrator ad prosequendum, administrator ad litem or other person acting in a similar capacity.

     c.     "Financial institution" means a bank, insurance company, credit union, savings and loan association, investment trust or other organization held out to the public as a place of deposit of funds or medium of savings or collective investment.

     d.    "Government" means the United States, any state, county, municipality, or other political unit, or any department, agency or subdivision of any of the foregoing, or any corporation or other association carrying out the functions of government.

     e.     "Movable property" means property the location of which can be changed, including things growing on, affixed to, or found in land, and documents, although the rights represented thereby have no physical location. "Immovable property" is all other property.

     f.     "Obtain" means: (1) in relation to property, to bring about a transfer or purported transfer of a legal interest in the property, whether to the obtainer or another; or (2) in relation to labor or service, to secure performance thereof.

     g.     "Property" means anything of value, including real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, trade secrets, contract rights, choses in action and other interests in or claims to wealth, admission or transportation tickets, captured or domestic animals, food and drink, electric, gas, steam or other power, financial instruments, information, data, and computer software, in either human readable or computer readable form, copies or originals.

     h.     "Property of another" includes property in which any person other than the actor has an interest which the actor is not privileged to infringe, regardless of the fact that the actor also has an interest in the property and regardless of the fact that the other person might be precluded from civil recovery because the property was used in an unlawful transaction or was subject to forfeiture as contraband.  Property in possession of the actor shall not be deemed property of another who has only a security interest therein, even if legal title is in the creditor pursuant to a conditional sales contract or other security agreement.

     i.      "Trade secret" means the whole or any portion or phase of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula or improvement which is secret and of value.  A trade secret shall be presumed to be secret when the owner thereof takes measures to prevent it from becoming available to persons other than those selected by the owner to have access thereto for limited purposes.

     j.     "Dealer in property" means a person who buys and sells property as a business.

     k.    "Traffic" means:

     (1)   To sell, transfer, distribute, dispense or otherwise dispose of property to another person; or

     (2)   To buy, receive, possess, or obtain control of or use property, with intent to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense or otherwise dispose of such property to another person.

     l.      "Broken succession of title" means lack of regular documents of purchase and transfer by any seller except the manufacturer of the subject property, or possession of documents of purchase and transfer by any buyer without corresponding documents of sale and transfer in possession of seller, or possession of documents of sale and transfer by seller without corresponding documents of purchase and transfer in possession of any buyer.

     m.    "Person" includes any individual or entity or enterprise, as defined herein, holding or capable of holding a legal or beneficial interest in property.

     n.     "Anything of value" means any direct or indirect gain or advantage to any person.

     o.    "Interest in property which has been stolen" means title or right of possession to such property.

     p.    "Stolen property" means property that has been the subject of any unlawful taking.

     q.    "Enterprise" includes any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, business trust, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact, although not a legal entity, and it includes illicit as well as licit enterprises and governmental as well as other entities.

     r.     "Attorney General" includes the Attorney General of New Jersey, his assistants and deputies.  The term shall also include a county prosecutor or his designated assistant prosecutor, if a county prosecutor is expressly authorized in writing by the Attorney General to carry out the powers conferred on the Attorney General by this chapter.

     s.     "Access device" means property consisting of any telephone calling card number, credit card number, account number, mobile identification number, electronic serial number, personal identification number, or any other data intended to control or limit access to telecommunications or other computer networks in either human readable or computer readable  form, either copy or original, that can be used to obtain telephone service.  Access device also means property consisting of a card, code or other means of access to an account held by a financial institution, or any combination thereof, that may be used by the account holder for the purpose of initiating electronic fund transfers.

     t.     "Defaced access device" means any access device, in either human readable or computer readable form, either copy or original, which has been removed, erased, defaced, altered, destroyed, covered or otherwise changed in any manner from its original configuration.

     u.     "Domestic companion animal" means any animal commonly referred to as a pet or one that has been bought, bred, raised or otherwise acquired, in accordance with local ordinances and State and federal law for the primary purpose of providing companionship to the owner, rather than for business or agricultural purposes.

     v.     "Personal identifying information" means any name, number or other information that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual and includes, but is not limited to, the name, address, telephone number, date of birth, social security number, official State issued identification number, employer or taxpayer number, place of employment, employee identification number, demand deposit account number, savings account number, credit card number, mother's maiden name, unique biometric data, such as fingerprint, voice print, retina or iris image or other unique physical representation, or unique electronic identification number, address or routing code of the individual.

     w.    “Senior citizen” means a person 62 years of age or older.

     x.     “Person with a disability” means a person who by reason of a pre-existing medically determinable physical or mental impairment is substantially incapable of exercising normal physical or mental power of resistance, and includes, but is not limited to, a person determined to be disabled pursuant to Title II or XVI of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.ss.401-433 or 42 U.S.C.ss.1381-1383), or any other governmental retirement or benefits program that uses substantially the same criteria for determining eligibility.

     y.     "Person in a position of trust" means a person who:

     (a) is the parent, spouse, adult child, or other relative by blood or affinity of a senior citizen or person with a disability; or

     (b) is a joint tenant or tenant in common with a senior citizen or

person with a disability; or

     (c) has a fiduciary obligation to a senior citizen or person with a

disability; or

     (d) receives monetary or other valuable consideration for providing care for a senior citizen or person with a disability; or

     (e) lives with or provides some component of home care services on a continuing basis to a senior citizen or person with a disability including, but not limited to, a neighbor or friend who does not provide such services on a compensated basis but has access to a senior citizen or person with a disability based on such relationship.

(cf: P.L.2004, c.11)

 

     3.    N.J.S.2C:20-2 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:20-2.  a.  Consolidation of Theft and Computer Criminal Activity Offenses.  Conduct denominated theft or computer criminal activity in this chapter constitutes a single offense, but each episode or transaction may be the subject of a separate prosecution and conviction.  A charge of theft or computer criminal activity may be supported by evidence that it was committed in any manner that would be theft or computer criminal activity under this chapter, notwithstanding the specification of a different manner in the indictment or accusation, subject only to the power of the court to ensure fair trial by granting a bill of particulars, discovery, a continuance, or other appropriate relief where the conduct of the defense would be prejudiced by lack of fair notice or by surprise.

     b.    Grading of theft offenses.

     (1)   Theft constitutes a crime of the second degree if:

     (a)   The amount involved is $75,000.00 or more;

     (b)   The property is taken by extortion;

     (c)   The property stolen is a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-2 and the quantity is in excess of one kilogram;

     (d)   The property stolen is a person's benefits under federal or State law, or from any other source, which the Department of Human Services or an agency acting on its behalf has budgeted for the person's health care and the amount involved is $75,000.00 or more; or

     (e)   The property stolen is human remains or any part thereof; except that, if the human remains are stolen by deception or falsification of a document by which a gift of all or part of a human body may be made pursuant to P.L.2008, c.50 (C.26:6-77 et al.), the theft constitutes a crime of the first degree.

     (2)   Theft constitutes a crime of the third degree if:

     (a)   The amount involved exceeds $500.00 but is less than $75,000.00;

     (b)   The property stolen is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, horse, domestic companion animal or airplane;

     (c)   The property stolen is a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-2 and the amount involved is less than $75,000.00 or is undetermined and the quantity is one kilogram or less;

     (d)   It is from the person of the victim;

     (e)   It is in breach of an obligation by a person in his capacity as a fiduciary;

     (f)    It is by threat not amounting to extortion;

     (g)   It is of a public record, writing or instrument kept, filed or deposited according to law with or in the keeping of any public office or public servant;

     (h)   The property stolen is a person's benefits under federal or State law, or from any other source, which the Department of Human Services or an agency acting on its behalf has budgeted for the person's health care and the amount involved is less than $75,000.00;

     (i)    The property stolen is any real or personal property related to, necessary for, or derived from research, regardless of value, including, but not limited to, any sample, specimens and components thereof, research subject, including any warm-blooded or cold-blooded animals being used for research or intended for use in research, supplies, records, data or test results, prototypes or equipment, as well as any proprietary information or other type of information related to research;

     (j)    The property stolen is a New Jersey Prescription Blank as referred to in R.S.45:14-14;

     (k)   The property stolen consists of an access device or a defaced access device; or

     (l)    The property stolen consists of anhydrous ammonia and the actor intends it to be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

     (3)   Theft constitutes a crime of the fourth degree if the amount involved is at least $200.00 but does not exceed $500.00.  If the amount involved was less than $200.00 the offense constitutes a disorderly persons offense.

     (4)   The amount involved in a theft or computer criminal activity shall be determined by the trier of fact.  The amount shall include, but shall not be limited to, the amount of any State tax avoided, evaded or otherwise unpaid, improperly retained or disposed of. Amounts involved in thefts or computer criminal activities committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same person or several persons, may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense;

     (5)   Theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person shall be graded as a crime of the fourth degree if the underlying offense referred to in subsection a. of section 1 of P.L.     , c.    (C.  ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) is a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, it is a crime one degree higher than the most serious underlying offense referred to in subsection a. of section 1 of P.L.   , c.  (C.   )(pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     c.     Claim of right.  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for theft that the actor:

     (1)   Was unaware that the property or service was that of another;

     (2)   Acted under an honest claim of right to the property or service involved or that he had a right to acquire or dispose of it as he did; or

     (3)   Took property exposed for sale, intending to purchase and pay for it promptly, or reasonably believing that the owner, if present, would have consented.

     d.    Theft from spouse.  It is no defense that theft or computer criminal activity was from or committed against the actor's spouse, except that misappropriation of household and personal effects, or other property normally accessible to both spouses, is theft or
computer criminal activity only if it occurs after the parties have ceased living together.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.50, s.21)

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill creates the new offense of theft by financial exploitation of vulnerable person.  Under the bill,  an actor commits this offense when, being in a position of trust in relation to a senior citizen or a person with a disability, he commits a theft offense against that person.  The bill amends N.J.S.A.2C:20-1 to define a senior citizen as a person 62 years of age or older.  A “person with a disability” means a person who by reason of a pre-existing medically determinable physical or mental impairment is substantially incapable of exercising normal physical or mental power of resistance, and includes, but is not limited to, a person determined to be disabled pursuant to Title II or XVI of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.ss.401-433 or 42 U.S.C.ss.1381-1383), or any other governmental retirement or benefits program that uses substantially the same criteria for determining eligibility.

     Further, a "person in a position of trust" means a person who:

     (a)   is the parent, spouse, adult child, or other relative by blood or affinity of a senior citizen or person with a disability; or

     (b)   is a joint tenant or tenant in common with a senior citizen or

person with a disability; or

     (c) has a fiduciary obligation to a senior citizen or person with a

disability; or

     (d)   receives monetary or other valuable consideration for providing care for a senior citizen or person with a disability; or

     (e)   lives with or provides some component of home care services on a continuing basis to a senior citizen or person with a disability including, but not limited to, a neighbor or friend who does not provide such services on a compensated basis but has access to a senior citizen or person with a disability based on such relationship.

     The bill provides that theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person shall be graded as a crime of the fourth degree if the underlying offense is a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, it is a crime one degree higher than the most serious underlying theft offense.