LEGISLATIVE REPORT: An act to amend Section 666 of the Penal Code, relating to petty theft. Introduced by Assemblymember Block (D-San Diego) on February 22, 2013.
Elder Law & Advocacy strongly supports the passage of Senate Bill 543.
PURPOSE OF LEGISLATION
SB 543 would add theft from an elder or dependent adult as a qualifying prior crime for purposes of sentencing enhancements. Currently, if a defendant is convicted three or more times of petty theft, grand theft, auto theft, burglary, carjacking, or robbery, and then later commits petty theft, the subsequent petty theft crime may be punished as a felony. Existing law fails to list crimes of theft from an elder or dependent adult as a prior qualifying offense.
BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION OF POSITION
Financial elder abuse is the unlawful use and/or taking of personal items such as cash, investments, real property, and jewelry. Elder theft will continue to grow as California’s elderly population doubles to 6.4 million by 2025, as projected by the United States Census Bureau. According to the House Select Committee on Aging, one out of every 20 elderly people will be a victim of abuse.
Certainly, elder theft is just as devastating as any other form of theft and should be included in the list of qualifying priors in Penal Code Section 666 as it specifically targets the most vulnerable.
The bill is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File. All bills with a fiscal impact in any fiscal year of $150,000 or more will move to the Suspense File. The Senate passed the bill on May 23, 2013.