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Introduced Version House Bill 2075 History

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hb2075 intr
H. B. 2075


(By Delegate Blair)
[Introduced February 9, 2005; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]




A BILL to amend the code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §30-29-11, relating to prohibiting law-enforcement officers from asking crime victims if they have insurance coverage to cover losses occasioned by the criminal activity being investigated; and, excluding the provisions of the section in the event reasonable suspicion exists that a crime has been staged or falsely reported.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §30-29-11, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 29. LAW-ENFORCEMENT TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION.
§30-29-11. Prohibition against asking crime victims about insurance coverage.

(a) The Legislature finds as follows:
(1) In most cases, whether a crime victim has insurance coverage to cover losses suffered by criminal activity has no bearing on law-enforcement's ability to investigate and apprehend perpetrators of crime;
(2) When police approach victims of crime during a criminal investigation, the question of insurance coverage simply exacerbates a victim's feelings of violation;
(3) When a law-enforcement officer asks whether insurance coverage exists, the victim's frustration is compounded and, in many cases, this question merely reinforces the perception that law enforcement and the judicial system are unable to dispense justice, while detracting from the investigation's primary focus of apprehension of the responsible criminals; and
(4) Without knowledge of whether a crime victim may be compensated for his or her loss, law enforcement will have greater motivation to actively pursue offending criminals. Accordingly, law enforcement should have a higher degree of success at solving crimes, which in turn should lower insurance costs. Therefore, law-enforcement's inquiry concerning whether crime victims have insurance during the investigatory process is, in most cases, contrary to public policy and should be discouraged.
(b) For purposes of this section:
(1) The term "law-enforcement officer" means any duly authorized member of a law-enforcement agency who is authorized to maintain public peace and order, prevent and detect crime, make arrests and enforce the laws of the state or any county or municipality thereof.
(2) The term "municipality" means any incorporated town or city whose boundaries lie within the geographic boundaries of the state.
(3) The term "state and local law-enforcement agencies" means any duly authorized state, county or municipal organization employing one or more persons whose responsibility is the enforcement of laws of the state or any county or municipality thereof.
(c) No law-enforcement officer may ask any crime victim during any phase of a criminal investigation if they have insurance coverage to cover any loss occasioned by the criminal activity being investigated with the exception of those circumstances set forth in subsection (e) of this section.
(d) All state and local law-enforcement agencies shall establish and maintain policies and procedures designed to prevent law-enforcement officers from inquiring of crime victims if they have insurance coverage for losses occasioned by criminal activity during any phase of a criminal investigation except if circumstances exist as enumerated under subsection (e) of this section. Policies and procedures shall include any other policies and procedures considered necessary by state and local law-enforcement agencies to prevent their officers from asking crime victims if they have insurance coverage to cover losses occasioned by criminal activity during the investigation of the criminal activity.
(e) The provisions of this section do not apply in the event reasonable suspicion exists to suspect a crime may have been staged, or otherwise falsely reported.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to prohibit law-enforcement officers from asking crime victims if they have insurance coverage to cover losses occasioned by criminal activity. The rationale for the proposal is that law enforcement have less incentive to solve crimes and recover lost property when they believe insurance coverage exists to compensate a victim. The bill excludes criminal investigations in which law-enforcement officers have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime has been staged or falsely reported.

This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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