H. B. 2041
(By Delegates Douglas, Faircloth, Trump and Manuel)
(Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary)
[February 5, 1999]
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
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
(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" mean a person who delivers the pledge into the
possession of a pawnbroker, unless such person discloses that he is or was acting for another, and in such an event "pledgor" means the
(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, no person shall
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 pawnbrokers;
(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
(3) Guidelines for pawnbrokers to share report information
with law enforcement officers of other states to assist tracking of
(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 shall 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
47-25-3. Requirements of licensed pawnbrokers.
(a) No pawnbroker shall 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 pledgor.
(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 public.
(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
(f) Every pawnbroker shall keep at his 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 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
(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 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 to be missing, or known or believed by him 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 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
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 transactions.
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, an 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 safe-keeping 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 monies 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
act creates a debtor/creditor relationship, no pawnbroker shall
make any agreement requiring the personal liability of a pledgor in
connection with a pawn transaction, and no pledgor shall 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 subsection (g) of section three of this article;
(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 shall be
disfigured or its identity destroyed or affected in any manner
while in pawn nor shall 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 him 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
§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 this code.
§47-25-9. Criminal penalties.
(a) Any person who engages in the business of operating a
pawn shop in violation of this article shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not in excess of one thousand dollars.
(b) Every pawnbroker who sells any property received by him 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, upon conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor,
and shall be punished a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars. (c) Any pawnbroker who having received any property which has
been embezzled or stolen, refuses or omits to exhibit said property
upon demand during the usual business hours to any investigating
law enforcement officer, upon conviction thereof, is guilty of a
felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in jail or the state
penitentiary not to exceed five years or in the county jail not to
exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars,
(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 act, and
upon conviction thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and
shall be punished by confinement in a county or regional jail, not
more than one year, or fined not more than five hundred dollars, or