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PRINTER'S NO. 811
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
838
Session of
2023
INTRODUCED BY HOWARD, SANCHEZ, PROBST, MADDEN, HILL-EVANS,
CERRATO, SHUSTERMAN AND PARKER, APRIL 4, 2023
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, APRIL 4, 2023
AN ACT
Amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes, in theft and related offenses, further
providing for the offense of financial exploitation of an
older adult or care-dependent person and providing for the
offense of financial exploitation of a family or household
member and for civil causes of action in cases of financial
exploitation; and imposing penalties.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 3922.1(b) and the definition of
"financial exploitation" in subsection (f) of Title 18 of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are amended and subsection
(f) is amended by adding a definition to read:
§ 3922.1. Financial exploitation of an older adult or care-
dependent person.
* * *
(b) Grading.--Financial exploitation of an older adult or
care-dependent person constitutes a:
(1) Felony of the first degree if:
(i) the amount involved is at least $500,000
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adjusted annually; or
(ii) the person participated in a course of conduct
resulting in the loss of property of two or more older
adults or care-dependent persons.
(2) Felony of the second degree if the amount involved
is at least $100,000 but less than $500,000 adjusted
annually.
(3) Felony of the third degree if the amount involved
exceeds $2,000 but is less than $100,000 adjusted annually.
(4) Except for offenses under paragraphs (1), (2) and
(3), misdemeanor of the first degree.
* * *
(f) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following
words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Adjusted annually." The dollar amount adjusted each year to
reflect changes to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban
Consumers for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and
Maryland area.
* * *
"Financial exploitation." Either:
(1) The wrongful or unauthorized taking or attempt to
take by withholding, appropriating, concealing or using the
money, assets or property of an older adult or care-dependent
person, including any act or omission taken by a person,
including through the use of a power of attorney, guardian,
custodian, trustee, personal representative or conservator of
an older adult or care-dependent person or by an individual
who stands in a position of trust and confidence with an
older adult or care-dependent person, including business
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transactions to:
[(1)] (i) obtain or attempt to obtain control,
through deception, intimidation or undue influence, over
the older adult's or care-dependent person's money,
assets or property to deprive the older adult or care-
dependent person of the ownership, use, benefit or
possession of the older adult's or care-dependent
person's money, assets or property; or
[(2)] (ii) convert or attempt to convert money,
assets or property of the older adult or care-dependent
person to deprive the older adult or care-dependent
person of the ownership, use, benefit or possession of
the older adult's or care-dependent person's money,
assets or property.
(2) Causing or attempting to cause the financial
dependence of an older adult or care-dependent person by:
(i) Forbidding, obstructing or otherwise interfering
with employment or school attendance.
(ii) Unauthorized use of credit or property of the
older adult.
(iii) Withholding access to money or credit.
(iv) Stealing from or defrauding of money or assets.
(v) Exploiting the family or household member for
personal gain of the defendant.
(vi) Withholding physical resources, such as food,
clothing, necessary medications or shelter.
* * *
Section 2. Title 18 is amended by adding sections to read:
§ 3922.2. Financial exploitation of a family or household
member.
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(a) Offense defined.--An individual who commits the offense
of financial exploitation of a family or household member shall
be subject to the criminal penalties specified under subsection
(b).
(b) Grading.--Financial exploitation of a family or
household member constitutes a:
(1) Felony of the first degree if the amount involved is
at least $500,000 adjusted annually in aggregate amongst
victims.
(2) Felony of the second degree if the amount involved
is at least $100,000 but less than $500,000 adjusted annually
in aggregate amongst victims.
(3) Felony of the third degree if the amount involved
exceeds $2,000 but is less than $100,000 adjusted annually in
aggregate amongst victims.
(4) Misdemeanor of the first degree, except for offenses
under paragraphs (1), (2) and (3).
(c) Concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute.--In addition to
the authority conferred upon the Attorney General by the act of
October 15, 1980 (P.L.950, No.164), known as the Commonwealth
Attorneys Act, the Attorney General may investigate and
institute criminal proceedings for any violation of this section
or related offenses if the amount involved exceeds $20,000. No
individual charged with a violation of this section by the
Attorney General may challenge the authority of the Attorney
General to investigate or prosecute the case, and, if a
challenge is made, the challenge shall be dismissed, and no
relief shall be made available in the courts of this
Commonwealth to the individual making the challenge.
(d) Enforcement.--The district attorney of a county shall
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have the authority to investigate and institute criminal
proceedings for any violation of this section or related
offenses.
(e) Defense of coercive control.--It is an affirmative
defense in a proceeding in which an allegation of coercive
control is made that the conduct was reasonable in the
particular circumstances. Reasonableness is a question of fact
and not of law.
(f) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following
words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Abuse." As defined in 23 Pa.C.S. § 6102 (relating to
definitions).
"Adjusted annually." The dollar amount adjusted each year to
reflect changes to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban
Consumers for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and
Maryland area.
"Coercive control." A course of conduct in which an
individual gains power over another individual through:
(1) Conduct that has, or is reasonably likely to have,
one or more of the following effects:
(i) Making the other individual dependent on, or
subordinate to, the individual.
(ii) Isolating the other individual from friends,
relatives or other sources of support.
(iii) Controlling, regulating or monitoring the
other individual's day-to-day activities.
(iv) Depriving the other individual of, or
restricting the other individual's, freedom of action.
(v) Depriving the other individual of, or
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restricting the other individual's, access to support
services, including the services of health practitioners
and legal practitioners.
(vi) Frightening, humiliating, degrading or
punishing the other individual.
(2) Conduct that has, may have or is reasonably likely
to have, an effect referred under paragraph (1) on an
individual even if the conduct is directed at a third
individual, including a child, relative or friend, or a
companion animal owned by or in the possession of the
individual.
"Companion animal." The term:
(1) Includes:
(i) A domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat,
nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised
for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile
or exotic or native bird.
(ii) A feral animal or any animal under the care,
custody or ownership of an individual.
(iii) An animal that is bought, sold, traded or
bartered.
(2) Does not include agricultural animals, game species
or any animals regulated under Federal law such as research
animals.
"Course of conduct." A pattern of actions composed of more
than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a
continuity of conduct.
"Family or household member." A spouse or individual who has
been a spouse, individuals living as spouses or who have lived
as spouses, parents, children, other individuals related by
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consanguinity or affinity, current or former sexual or intimate
partners, individuals residing at the same address or
individuals who share biological parenthood.
"Financial exploitation." A course of conduct of coercive
control or abuse in conjunction with at least one instance of
the following:
(1) Wrongful or unauthorized taking or attempt to take
by withholding, appropriating, concealing or using the money,
assets or property of a family or household member, including
any act or omission taken by an individual to:
(i) obtain or attempt to obtain control, through
deception, intimidation or undue influence, over the
family or household member's money, assets or property to
deprive the family or household member of the ownership,
use, benefit or possession of the family or household
member's money, assets or property; or
(ii) convert or attempt to convert money, assets or
property of the family or household member to deprive the
family or household member of the ownership, use, benefit
or possession of the family or household member's money,
assets or property.
(2) Causing or attempting to cause the financial
dependence of a family or household member by:
(i) Forbidding, obstructing or otherwise interfering
with employment or school attendance.
(ii) Unauthorized use of credit or property.
(iii) Withholding access to money or credit.
(iv) Stealing from or defrauding of money or assets.
(v) Exploiting the family or household member for
personal gain of the defendant.
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"Property." Anything of value, including real estate,
tangible personal property, contract rights, money, bank
accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement
accounts or any other deposit of money or medium of savings or
collective investment or other interests in or claims to wealth.
§ 3922.3. Civil causes of action in cases of financial
exploitation.
(a) General rule.--An individual who is a victim of
financial exploitation under section 3922.1 (relating to
financial exploitation of an older adult or care-dependent
person) or 3922.2 (relating to financial exploitation of a
family or household member) may bring a civil action against any
person who participated in the financial exploitation of the
individual in the court of common pleas of the county where the
individual resides or where any of the alleged violations
occurred.
(b) Exception.--This section shall not be construed to
create liability for any person who provides goods or services
to the general public and to a person who would be liable under
section 3922.1 or 3922.2, absent a showing that the person:
(1) knowingly markets or provides goods or services to a
person liable under section 3922.1 or 3922.2;
(2) knowingly receives a higher level of compensation
from a person liable under section 3922.1 or 3922.2; or
(3) supervises or exercises control over a person liable
under section 3922.1 or 3922.2.
(c) Damages.--The court may award any of the following forms
of relief:
(1) Actual damages, including, but not limited to,
repayment of debts falsely or unjustly owed in the victim's
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name.
(2) Compensatory damages.
(3) Punitive damages.
(4) Injunctive relief, including:
(i) Voiding contracts signed by the victim.
(ii) Directing institutions of higher learning to
make reasonable accommodations for victims of financial
exploitation.
(iii) Ordering consumer credit reporting agencies to
remove from reports all debts accrued falsely or unjustly
in the victim's name.
(5) Any other appropriate relief.
(d) Attorney fees and costs.--A prevailing plaintiff in a
civil action brought under subsection (a) shall be awarded
reasonable attorney fees and costs.
(e) Treble damages.--Treble damages shall be awarded to the
plaintiff on proof of actual damages where the defendant's acts
were willful and malicious.
(f) Joinder of actions.--In the discretion of the court:
(1) Two or more individuals may join in one action under
this section as plaintiffs if the plaintiff's respective
actions involve at least one defendant in common.
(2) Two or more persons may be joined in one action
under this section as defendants if the defendants may be
liable to at least one plaintiff in common.
Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
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