SB0142T-Truly Bill Summary (House)

CCS HS HCS SB 142 -- PAWNBROKERS

This bill revises the laws regulating pawnshop operating procedures, the licensing of pawnshops, and the procedures for filing claims to retrieve stolen property.

The bill establishes procedures for the recovery of property that is alleged to have been stolen and is discovered in a pawnshop. A person may recover stolen property held by a pawnbroker by first notifying the pawnbroker in writing of the claim and, if unresolved after 10 days, filing a petition in a circuit or small claims court. The pawnbroker may simultaneously bring an action against the individual who pledged or sold the property. If the property is found to be stolen, the court will restore it to the original owner, who may recover legal costs from the pawnbroker. The pawnbroker may, in turn, recover all costs associated with the action from the individual who brought the property to the pawnbroker. If the court finds that the person claiming to be the original owner is not entitled to the property, that person is liable for costs associated with the action incurred by all parties to the action. The bill establishes a similar procedure for reimbursing customers who unknowingly purchase stolen merchandise from a pawnbroker.

In its other main provisions, the bill:

(1) Increases the maximum penalty a person faces for misdemeanor violations of the pawnbroker statutes from $1,000 to $5,000, 6 months imprisonment, or both. The person's pawnshop license will be permanently revoked upon a second conviction;

(2) Increases the penalties for fraudulently pledging or selling property, making it a class A misdemeanor when the value of the property is between $50 and $150, and a class C felony when the value of the property is $150 or more;

(3) Allows law enforcement officers to inspect property held by a pawnbroker, without a warrant, if the officers make a request of the pawnbroker and proceed in a manner that minimizes interference with regular business operations;

(4) Establishes procedures for a law enforcement officer to issue a hold order on property held by a pawnbroker that the officer has probable cause to believe has been stolen. Current law requires a prosecuting attorney to issue such an order. Law enforcement officers may place a hold order not to exceed 2 months, which may be extended 2 additional one month periods;

(5) Requires pawnbrokers to release to law enforcement, upon written request, property subject to a hold order that is needed as part of a criminal investigation. Such property must be returned at the close of the investigation. If the criminal investigation is not completed within 120 days, the police must return the property to the pawnbroker or must provide a warrant for its continued custody;

(6) Allows pawnbrokers to loan money on personal property for which ownership is evidenced by a state-issued certificate of title by retaining the title and not the property itself; and

(7) Prohibits any county or municipality from enacting any ordinances which are inconsistent with or more restrictive than the provisions of the bill.




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