H. B. 4039
(By Delegates Douglas, Trump and Faircloth)
[Introduced January 14, 2000; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter forty-seven of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article twenty-five,
relating to the regulation of pawnbrokers; providing that
the superintendent of the West Virginia state police has
rule-making authority regulating pawnbrokers; establishing
license requirements and fees for pawnbrokers; creating
requirements for pawn transactions; disclosure requirements
for pawn transactions established; limitations on pawn
agreements and practices; providing for restitution to
pawnbrokers and buyers of property unlawfully obtained;
prohibiting unfair trade practices; establishing criminal
penalties for violations of licensing requirements and for
pawning, selling or retaining stolen property, and using
false identification to pawn or sell property.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter forty-seven of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-five, to
read as follows:
ARTICLE 25. PAWNBROKERS.
(a) "Pawnbroker" means any person, partnership, association
or corporation advancing money in exchange for collateral of the
pledgor in a pawn transaction.
(b) "Pawn transaction" is a transaction between a pawnbroker
and a pledgor where the pledgor's property is placed in the
possession of the pawnbroker as security for money or other
valuable consideration provided to the pawnbroker on the
condition that the pledgor may pay a pawn charge and redeem his
or her property within a predetermined time frame: Provided,
That pawn transactions do not include those transactions where
securities or printed evidence of indebtedness are used as
security for the transaction.
(c) "Pledge" means an article or articles of property
deposited with a pawnbroker as collateral for the guarantee of
performance of a pawn agreement.
(d) "Pledgor" means a person who delivers the pledge into
the possession of a pawnbroker, unless such person discloses that he or she is or was acting for another, and in such an event
"pledgor" means the disclosed principle.
(e) "Superintendent" as used in this article refers to the
superintendent of the West Virginia state police.
§47-25-2. Licensing requirements for pawnbrokers; powers and
duties of the superintendent of state police.
(a) After the first day of July, two thousand one, no person
may engage or continue in business as a pawnbroker except as
authorized by this article, and without first obtaining a license
from the West Virginia state police. No person other than a
licensee under this article may:
(1) Display any sign or other device in or about the
premises of a business, or use any advertising or printing matter
which in anyway resembles an emblem or sign commonly used by
(2) Display any sign which is likely to deceive the public
that a business or person conducts pawnbroker transactions, nor
use the word "pawnbroker" in or about the premises of a business
or in any advertising matter or other printed materials; or
(3) Represent to the public that he or she is a pawnbroker,
either through advertising, soliciting, signs or otherwise.
(b) To receive a license, persons must be residents of the
state and at least eighteen years of age. The superintendent
shall deny the permit of any person convicted of a felony.
(c) The superintendent shall propose for promulgation,
legislative rules for the regulation of pawnbrokers pursuant to
this article and in accordance with the provisions of article
three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. These rules shall
include the following:
(1) Periodic reporting procedures for pawnbrokers and any
other requirements for pawnbrokers necessary to effectuate the
provisions of this article.
(2) Provisions for municipal police departments to assume
primacy in collection and receipt of any periodic reporting as
this article may require: Provided, That nothing in the
provisions of this article prevents or limits the authority of
any municipality from requiring an additional fee or permit for
any pawn business located therein.
(3) Guidelines for pawnbrokers to share report information
with law-enforcement officers of other states to assist tracking
of stolen property.
(d) Upon receipt of an application for a pawnbrokers
license, the superintendent, upon verification of all licensing
requirements and receipt of payment of the licensing fee, shall
issue a two-year license to the applicant to do business in this
state as a pawnbroker. Separate applications and licenses are
required for each pawnbroker store location. The superintendent
shall charge for a license such fee as he or she shall proscribe by legislative rule, sufficient to cover the cost of
administering this article, but in no case may the license fee
exceed five hundred dollars. The license shall run from the date
of issuance to the end of the biennial period. When the initial
license is issued in the second year of the biennial licensing
period, the license fee shall be an amount equal to one half of
the fee for the biennial licensing period.
§47-25-3. Requirements of licensed pawnbrokers.
(a) No pawnbroker may sell any pledge until it has been in
his or her possession for three months, unless a shorter period
of not less than thirty days is agreed to in writing by the
(b) Each pawnbroker licensed pursuant to the provisions of
this article shall be required by the superintendent of the state
police to furnish proof that he or she is adequately covered by
bond, insurance, or cash surplus to cover the pledge value of any
pledged property in the event of loss by fire, theft, burglary or
(c) All pawnbrokers shall always display actual business
hours on the front door or other location clearly visible to the
(d) Items bought, except on invoice from a manufacturer or
wholesaler with an established place of business, shall be held
for ten days before being disposed of or sold.
(e) All pawnbrokers shall obtain a written declaration of
ownership from each seller or pledgor on all sale or pawn
transactions, except for refinance pawn transactions or
merchandise bought from a manufacturer or wholesaler with an
established place of business. The declaration of ownership
shall appear on the bill of sale or pawn ticket, to be completed
by the seller or pledgor at the time of the transaction. The
declaration of ownership shall state the length of time the
pledgor or seller has owned the pledged property.
(f) Every pawnbroker shall keep at his or her place of
business an accurate and legible record recorded in ink or other
permanent recordation method, of each transaction made in the
course of his or her business. The record shall be made at the
time of the transaction and shall include:
(1) A description of the make, manufacturer, model, model
number, size, shape, serial number, year of manufacture of the
(2) The time, date and place of the transaction;
(3) A transaction number for each individual piece of
(4) The full name, residence address and home telephone
number of the person or persons pledging, together with a
personal description, including the height, weight, date of
birth, social security number, hair and eye color, and any other identifying marks, of such person or persons;
(5) A record of the verification of the identity of the
pledgor shall be kept. This verification shall be made by the
exhibition of a state-issued identification card, driver's
license or federal passport or other government-issued photo
identification card. The record shall contain the type of
identification exhibited, the issuing agency and the number
thereon. Such card shall be examined by the pawnbroker, and an
appropriate record retained thereof;
(6) In addition to the information required in subdivision
(1) of this subsection, a description of firearms shall include
in their description the color, caliber and size.
(g) Every pawnbroker and every employee of the pawnbroker
shall admit to the pawnbroker's place of business during regular
business hours, the chief law-enforcement officer, or his or her
designee, of the jurisdiction where his business is being
conducted, or any law-enforcement official of the state or
federal government. The pawnbroker or employee shall permit the
officer to: (1) Examine all records required by this section and
any article listed in a record which is believed by the officer
to be missing or stolen; and (2) search for and take into
possession any article known to him or her to be missing, or
known or believed by him or her to have been stolen.
§47-25-4. Required transaction reporting.
Every pawnbroker shall each day prepare a report in a form
prescribed by the superintendent of all transactions conducted by
the pawnbroker that day. The pawnbroker shall file such report
within seventy-two hours of a request by a law-enforcement
officer of this state, county, city, or town where his or her
business is conducted as prescribed by the superintendent:
Provided, That merchandise bought on invoice from a manufacturer
or wholesaler with an established place of business is exempt
from this reporting requirement.
The report shall include:
(1) The name, address and telephone number of the pawnshop;
(2) All information required by subdivisions (1), (2),(3)
and (6) in subsection (f) of section three of this article;
(3) The pawn transaction number and the time and date of the
purchase or pledge of property.
§47-25-5. Pawnbroker disclosure requirements for pawn
Upon receipt of any pawned property, the pawnbroker shall
deliver to the pledgor a pawn ticket on which shall be legibly
written or printed the name of the pledgor, the name of the
pawnbroker and the place where the pledge was made, a description
of the article or articles pledged; date of the transaction, the
amount received, final date of redemption, and the amount
required to redeem the property. Nothing appearing on a pawn ticket shall relieve the pawnbroker of the obligation to exercise
reasonable care as provided in this article in the safekeeping of
property pledged with the pawnbroker. No additional terms or
conditions may be imposed for redemption of property that are not
contained on the pledge ticket. A written receipt shall be
provided to the pledgee for any moneys paid in payment or
redemption of pawned property.
§47-25-6. Limitation on agreements and practices.
(a) Notwithstanding that a pawn transaction subject to this
article creates a debtor/creditor relationship, no pawnbroker may
make any agreement requiring the personal liability of a pledgor
in connection with a pawn transaction, and no pledgor may have an
obligation to redeem pledged goods or make any payment on a pawn
transaction. Only property in the possession of the pawnbroker
may serve as collateral for a pawn transaction. Except as
otherwise provided in this article, the only recourse of a
pawnbroker where the customer has pledged property shall be to
the pledged property itself. Any pledged property not redeemed
within thirty days following the last fixed maturity date may
thereafter, at the option of the pawnbroker, may be forfeited and
become the property of the pawnbroker.
(b) No licensed pawnbroker may:
(1) Accept a pledge or purchase property from a person under
the age of eighteen years;
(2) Fail to exercise reasonable care to protect pledged
property from loss or damage;
(3) Fail to return property to a customer upon payment of
the full amount due the pawnbroker;
(4) Accept collateral or buy merchandise from a person
unable to supply verification as provided in section three of
(5) Purchase or take any article in pawn or pledge from any
person appearing to be intoxicated or under the influence of any
drug, nor from any person known by the pawnbroker to have been
convicted of theft.
(c) When property possessed by a pawnbroker is found to be
stolen, the property shall be returned to the rightful owner
thereof or any law-enforcement officer of this state without the
payment of the money advanced by the pawnbroker thereon or any
costs or charges of any kind which the pawnbroker may have placed
on the same.
(d) No property received pledged to any pawnbroker may be
disfigured or its identity destroyed or affected in any manner
while in pawn nor may any property be concealed for forty-eight
hours after the property is received by the pawnbroker.
(e) Except as otherwise provided by this article, any person
properly identifying himself or herself as the original pledgor
in the pawn transaction or upon written evidence of assignment thereof, and presenting a pawn transaction ticket to the
pawnbroker, shall be presumed to be entitled to redeem the
pledged property described therein.
§47-25-7. Restitution to buyer and pawnbroker for property
unlawfully obtained or sold.
(a) Upon a verdict or plea of guilty or upon a plea of nolo
contendere for an offense in which any property is unlawfully
obtained and the property is sold, traded or pawned to a
pawnbroker, the court shall order the defendant to provide
restitution to the pawnbroker for the consideration paid to the
defendant for the stolen property. Such restitution shall be in
addition to any other penalties provided by law.
(b) The buyer of any property from a pawnbroker which has
been unlawfully obtained by either the pawnbroker or the pledgor
and which is lawfully returned to its rightful owner, shall have
the right to bring a civil action against the persons who
illegally obtained the property.
(c) Every pawnbroker who sells any property received by him
or her in pledge, before the time to redeem the same has expired
shall make full restitution for value to the pledgor.
§47-25-8. Prohibition against unfair competition and other
unfair, deceptive and fraudulent acts.
No provision of this article is to be construed to provide
an exception from other laws of this state governing unfair competition and unfair, deceptive and fraudulent acts or
practices, including the provisions of chapter forty-six-a of
§47-25-9. Criminal penalties.
(a) Any person who engages in the business of operating a
pawn shop in violation of this article is guilty of a misdemeanor
and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to
exceed one thousand dollars.
(b) Every pawnbroker who sells any property received by him
or her in pledge, before the time to redeem the same has expired,
or continues to accept payment for property already sold, and
every pawnbroker who willfully refuses to disclose the name of
the purchaser and the price received for any article received in
pledge and subsequently sold is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon
conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed two
(c) Any pawnbroker who having received any property which
has been embezzled or stolen, refuses or omits to exhibit the
property upon demand during the usual business hours to any
investigating law-enforcement officer is guilty of a felony and,
upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in the state
penitentiary not to exceed five years, or by a fine not to exceed
two thousand dollars, or both imprisoned and fined.
(d) Any person selling or pledging property to a pawnbroker who uses false or altered identification or a false declaration
of ownership as related to the provisions set forth by this
article, upon conviction thereof, is guilty of a misdemeanor and,
upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in a county or
regional jail, not more than one year, or fined not more than
five hundred dollars, or both confined and fined.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide for the
licensing and regulation of pawnbrokers.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.