(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste Riley to make it a specific crime to financially exploit the elderly is advancing toward law.
The bill (A-330) targets those who compel or induce an elderly person to deliver property to them or another person through fraud, false promise, extortion or intimidation.
“The unfortunate reality is that some people out there are looking to prey on the elderly and steal their life’s work and savings,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This is a common sense step that sends a strong message that those who would exploit the elderly will be held accountable.”
The bill would protect people who are more than 60 years old and suffering from a mental disease, defect or condition that renders the person incapable of deciding whether to give or withhold consent to taking, obtaining or withholding of his or her property.
The crime would be punishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both, when the amount involved is at least $200 but does not exceed $500. Under current law, thefts of this amount are graded as crimes of the fourth degree.
Additionally, when the amount involved is less than $200, the bill upgrades theft to a crime of the fourth degree. Under current law, theft of amounts less than $200 constitutes a disorderly persons offense. Theft from an elderly person, when the amount involved exceeds $500 but is less than $75,000, remains as a crime of the third degree.
“This additional protection could prove crucial to protecting elderly people who otherwise could fall victims to scams,” Riley said. “Those who exploit our elderly need to pay a steep price and this bill would do that.”
The bill was recently released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. It now goes to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a vote.
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