2000 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Ford
House Bill 251
(As Passed the House)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 97-17-64, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCLUDE SERVICES IN THE CRIME OF THEFT ARISING UNDER LEASE OR RENTAL AGREEMENTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-17-64, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-17-64. (1) (a) A person who obtains personal property or services of another under a lease or rental agreement is guilty of theft if he exercises unlawful or unauthorized control over the property or obtains the use of the services with purpose to deprive the owner thereof.
(b) As used in this section, the word "deprive" means to withhold property of another permanently or for so extended a period that a significant portion of its economic value, or the use or benefit thereof, is lost to the owner; or to withhold the property with intent to restore it to the owner only upon payment of a reward or other compensation; or to conceal, abandon or dispose of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it; or to sell, give, pledge, or otherwise transfer any interest in the property.
(c) As used in this section, "services" includes but is not limited to:
(ii) Professional services;
(iii) Transportation by common carriers; and
(iv) Personal property rental.
(2) It shall be prima facie evidence of purpose to deprive when a person:
(a) In obtaining such property or services presents identification or information which is materially false, fictitious, misleading or not current, with respect to such person's name, address, place of employment, or any other material matter; or
(b) Fails to return such property to the owner or his representative within ten (10) days after proper notice following the expiration of the term for which such person's use, possession or control of the property is authorized; or
(c) Fails to contact the owner or his representative to make arrangements to return such property within ten (10) days after proper notice following the expiration of the term for which such person's use, possession or control of such property is authorized; or
(d) Returns the property to the owner or lessor at the end of the lease on rental term, plus agreed upon extensions, but does not pay the lease or rental charges agreed upon in the written instrument after proper notice with intent to wrongfully deprive the owner or lessor of the agreed upon charges.
(3) For the purpose of this section, "proper notice" means either actual notification as may be otherwise proven beyond a reasonable doubt or a written demand for return of the property or written demand for payment for the services mailed to the defendant, which satisfies the following procedure:
(a) The written demand must be mailed to the defendant by certified or registered mail with return receipt attached, which return receipt by its terms must be signed by the defendant personally and not by his representative;
(b) The written demand must be mailed to the defendant at either the address given at the time he obtained the property or services or the defendant's last known address if later furnished in writing by the defendant to the owner or his representative; and
(c) The return receipt bearing the defendant's signature must be returned to the owner or his representative.
(4) It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
(a) The defendant was unaware that the property or services was that of another; or
(b) The defendant acted under an honest claim of right to the property or services involved or that he had a right to acquire or dispose of it as he did; or
(c) The defendant was physically incapacitated and unable to request or obtain permission of the owner to retain the property; or
(d) The property was in such a condition, through no fault of the defendant, that it could not be returned within the requisite time after receipt of proper notice.
(5) Any person convicted of the offense of theft under this section shall be:
(a) Guilty of a misdemeanor when the value of the personal property is less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) and punished by a fine of not more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment; or
(b) Guilty of a felony when the value of the personal property is Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) or more and punished by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term of not more than three (3) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2000.