ASSEMBLY, No. 2916

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MARCH 20, 2014

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  JON M. BRAMNICK

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  JOSEPH A. LAGANA

District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblywoman  NANCY F. MUNOZ

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  RAJ MUKHERJI

District 33 (Hudson)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Ciattarelli, C.A.Brown, Assemblywoman Simon, Assemblyman Garcia, Assemblywoman Spencer, Assemblymen Fiocchi, Caputo and Assemblywoman Angelini

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Eliminates presumption of non-imprisonment for theft of a firearm.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning theft of a firearm and amending N.J.S.2C:20-2 and N.J.S.2C:44-1.

 

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

 

     1.    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] $75,000 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] $75,000 or more;

     (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; or

     (f)   It is in breach of an obligation by a person in his capacity as a fiduciary and the amount involved is [$50,000.00] $50,000 or more.

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

     (a)   The amount involved exceeds [$500.00] $500 but is less than [$75,000.00] $75,000;

     (b)   The property stolen is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, horse, domestic companion animal or airplane, except the presumption of non-imprisonment set forth in subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:44-1 for a first offense of a crime of the third degree shall not apply to theft of a firearm;

     (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] $75,000 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 and the amount involved is less than [$50,000.00] $50,000;

     (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] $75,000;

     (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] section 20 of P.L.2003, c.280 (C.45:14-59);

     (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] $200 but does not exceed [$500.00] $500.

     (4)   Theft constitutes a disorderly persons offense if:

     (a)   The amount involved was less than [$200.00] $200; or

     (b)   The property stolen is an electronic vehicle identification system transponder.

     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.

     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.2013, c.58, s.2)

 

     2.    N.J.S.2C:44-1 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:44-1. a. In determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed on a person who has been convicted of an offense, the court shall consider the following aggravating circumstances:

     (1)   The nature and circumstances of the offense, and the role of the actor therein, including whether or not it was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner;

     (2)   The gravity and seriousness of harm inflicted on the victim, including whether or not the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim of the offense was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance due to advanced age, ill-health, or extreme youth, or was for any other reason substantially incapable of exercising normal physical or mental power of resistance;

     (3)   The risk that the defendant will commit another offense;

     (4)   A lesser sentence will depreciate the seriousness of the defendant's offense because it involved a breach of the public trust under chapters 27 and 30, or the defendant took advantage of a position of trust or confidence to commit the offense;

     (5)   There is a substantial likelihood that the defendant is involved in organized criminal activity;

     (6)   The extent of the defendant's prior criminal record and the seriousness of the offenses of which he has been convicted;

     (7)   The defendant committed the offense pursuant to an agreement that he either pay or be paid for the commission of the offense and the pecuniary incentive was beyond that inherent in the offense itself;

     (8)   The defendant committed the offense against a police or other law enforcement officer, correctional employee or fireman, acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority; the defendant committed the offense because of the status of the victim as a public servant; or the defendant committed the offense against a sports official, athletic coach or manager, acting in or immediately following the performance of his duties or because of the person's status as a sports official, coach or manager;

     (9)   The need for deterring the defendant and others from violating the law; 

     (10) The offense involved fraudulent or deceptive practices committed against any department or division of State government;

     (11) The imposition of a fine, penalty or order of restitution without also imposing a term of imprisonment would be perceived by the defendant or others merely as part of the cost of doing business, or as an acceptable contingent business or operating expense associated with the initial decision to resort to unlawful practices;

     (12) The defendant committed the offense against a person who he knew or should have known was 60 years of age or older, or disabled; and

     (13) The defendant, while in the course of committing or attempting to commit the crime, including the immediate flight therefrom, used or was in possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

     b.    In determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed on a person who has been convicted of an offense, the court may properly consider the following mitigating circumstances:

     (1)   The defendant's conduct neither caused nor threatened serious harm;

     (2)   The defendant did not contemplate that his conduct would cause or threaten serious harm;

     (3)   The defendant acted under a strong provocation;

     (4)   There were substantial grounds tending to excuse or justify the defendant's conduct, though failing to establish a defense;

     (5)   The victim of the defendant's conduct induced or facilitated its commission;

     (6)   The defendant has compensated or will compensate the victim of his conduct for the damage or injury that he sustained, or will participate in a program of community service;

     (7)   The defendant has no history of prior delinquency or criminal activity or has led a law-abiding life for a substantial period of time before the commission of the present offense;

     (8)   The defendant's conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur;

     (9)   The character and attitude of the defendant indicate that he is unlikely to commit another offense;

     (10) The defendant is particularly likely to respond affirmatively to probationary treatment;

     (11) The imprisonment of the defendant would entail excessive hardship to himself or his dependents;

     (12) The willingness of the defendant to cooperate with law enforcement authorities;

     (13) The conduct of a youthful defendant was substantially influenced by another person more mature than the defendant.

     c. (1) A plea of guilty by a defendant or failure to so plead shall not be considered in withholding or imposing a sentence of imprisonment.

     (2)   When imposing a sentence of imprisonment the court shall consider the defendant's eligibility for release under the law governing parole, including time credits awarded pursuant to Title 30 of the Revised Statutes, in determining the appropriate term of imprisonment.

     d.    Presumption of imprisonment.  The court shall deal with a person who has been convicted of a crime of the first or second degree, or a crime of the third degree where the court finds that the aggravating factor in paragraph (5) of subsection a. applies, by imposing a sentence of imprisonment unless, having regard to the character and condition of the defendant, it is of the opinion that his imprisonment would be a serious injustice which overrides the need to deter such conduct by others.  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection e. of this section, the court shall deal with a person who has been convicted of theft of a motor vehicle or of the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and who has previously been convicted of either offense by imposing a sentence of imprisonment unless, having regard to the character and condition of the defendant, it is of the opinion that his imprisonment would be a serious injustice which overrides the need to deter such conduct by others.

     e.    The court shall deal with a person convicted of an offense other than a crime of the first or second degree, who has not previously been convicted of an offense, without imposing a sentence of imprisonment unless, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history, character and condition of the defendant, it is of the opinion that his imprisonment is necessary for the protection of the public under the criteria set forth in subsection a., except that this subsection shall not apply if the court finds that the aggravating factor in paragraph (5) of subsection a. applies  or  if the person is convicted of any of the following crimes of the third degree: theft of a motor vehicle; unlawful taking of a motor vehicle; theft of a firearm; eluding; if the person is convicted of a crime of the third degree constituting use of a false government document in violation of subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1983, c.565 (C.2C:21-2.1); if the person is convicted of a crime of the third degree constituting distribution, manufacture or possession of an item containing personal identifying information in violation of subsection b. of section 6 of P.L.2003, c.184 (C.2C:21-17.3); if the person is convicted of a crime of the third or fourth degree constituting bias intimidation in violation of N.J.S.2C:16-1;  if the person is convicted of a crime of the third degree under section 2 of P.L.1997, c.111 (C.2C:12-1.1);  or if the person is convicted of a crime of the third or fourth degree under the provisions of section 1 or 2 of P.L.2007, c.341 (C.2C:33-29 or C.2C:33-30).

     f.     Presumptive Sentences.  (1) Except for the crime of murder, unless the preponderance of aggravating or mitigating factors, as set forth in subsections a. and b., weighs in favor of a higher or lower term within the limits provided in N.J.S.2C:43-6, when a court determines that a sentence of imprisonment is warranted, it shall impose sentence as follows:

     (a)   To a term of 20 years for aggravated manslaughter or kidnapping pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:13-1 when the offense constitutes a crime of the first degree;

     (b)   Except as provided in paragraph (a) of this subsection to a term of 15 years for a crime of the first degree;

     (c)   To a term of seven years for a crime of the second degree;

     (d)   To a term of four years for a crime of the third degree; and

     (e)   To a term of nine months for a crime of the fourth degree.

     In imposing a minimum term pursuant to 2C:43-6b., the sentencing court shall specifically place on the record the aggravating factors set forth in this section which justify the imposition of a minimum term.

     Unless the preponderance of mitigating factors set forth in subsection b. weighs in favor of a lower term within the limits authorized, sentences imposed pursuant to 2C:43-7a.(1) shall have a presumptive term of life imprisonment.  Unless the preponderance of aggravating and mitigating factors set forth in subsections a. and b. weighs in favor of a higher or lower term within the limits authorized, sentences imposed pursuant to 2C:43-7a.(2) shall have a presumptive term of 50 years' imprisonment; sentences imposed pursuant to 2C:43-7a.(3) shall have a presumptive term of 15 years' imprisonment; and sentences imposed pursuant to 2C:43-7a.(4) shall have a presumptive term of seven years' imprisonment.

     In imposing a minimum term pursuant to 2C:43-7b., the sentencing court shall specifically place on the record the aggravating factors set forth in this section which justify the imposition of a minimum term.

     (2)   In cases of convictions for crimes of the first or second degree where the court is clearly convinced that the mitigating factors substantially outweigh the aggravating factors and where the interest of justice demands, the court may sentence the defendant to a term appropriate to a crime of one degree lower than that of the crime for which he was convicted.  If the court does impose sentence pursuant to this paragraph, or if the court imposes a noncustodial or probationary sentence upon conviction for a crime of the first or second degree, such sentence shall not become final for 10 days in order to permit the appeal of such sentence by the prosecution.

     g.    Imposition of Noncustodial Sentences in Certain Cases.  If the court, in considering the aggravating factors set forth in subsection a., finds the aggravating factor in paragraph a.(2), a.(5), a.(10), or a.(12) and does not impose a custodial sentence, the court shall specifically place on the record the mitigating factors which justify the imposition of a noncustodial sentence.

     h.    Except as provided in section 2 of P.L.1993, c.123 (C.2C:43-11), the presumption of imprisonment as provided in subsection d. of this section shall not preclude the admission of a person to the Intensive Supervision Program, established pursuant to the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey.

(cf: P.L.2010, c.30, s.1)

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides that the presumption of non-imprisonment for certain third and fourth degree crimes does not apply to a person convicted of theft of a firearm.

     Theft of a firearm is a third degree crime which is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, a term of imprisonment of three to five years, or both.  Currently, N.J.S.2C:44-1 provides a presumption of non-imprisonment for most first-time offenders of third and fourth degree crimes.  Accordingly, a first-time offender is typically sentenced to a term of probation, rather than a term of imprisonment upon conviction.  This bill expands the list of crimes to which the presumption does not apply to include theft of a firearm.