2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Mayo
AN ACT TO CLARIFY THE CRIMINALITY OF THEFT OF RENTAL PROPERTY AND CREATE A NEW CRIME OF THEFT OF RENTAL PROPERTY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) (a) It is unlawful to obtain custody of personal property or equipment by trick, deceit, fraud or willful false representation with intent to defraud the owner or any person in lawful possession of the personal property or equipment.
(b) It is unlawful to hire or lease personal property or equipment from any person who is in lawful possession of the personal property or equipment with intent to defraud that person of the rental due under the rental agreement.
(c) It is unlawful to abandon or willfully refuse to redeliver personal property as required under a rental agreement without the consent of the lessor or the lessor's agent with intent to defraud the lessor or the lessor's agent.
(d) A person who violates this subsection (1) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable as provided in Section 97-17-43, unless the value of the personal property or equipment is of a value of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or more; in that event the violation constitutes a felony, punishable as provided in Section 97-17-41.
(2) (a) In prosecutions under this section, the following acts are prima facie evidence of fraudulent intent: obtaining the property or equipment under false pretenses; absconding without payment; or removing or attempting to remove the property or equipment from the county without the express written consent of the lessor or the lessor's agent.
(b) Demand for return of overdue property or equipment and for payment of amounts due may be made personally, by hand delivery, or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the lessee's address shown in the rental contract.
(c) In a prosecution under subsection (1)(c):
(i) Failure to redeliver the property or equipment within five (5) days after hand delivery to or return receipt from the lessee is prima facie evidence of fraudulent intent. Notice that is returned undelivered after mailing to the address given by the lessee at the time of rental shall be deemed equivalent to return receipt from the lessee.
(ii) Failure to pay any amount due which is incurred as the result of the failure to redeliver property after the rental period expires is prima facie evidence of fraudulent intent. Amounts due include unpaid rental for the time period during which the property or equipment was not returned, and include the lesser of the cost of repairing or replacing the property or equipment, as necessary, if it has been damaged or not returned.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.