We previously reported to you on a new crime being proposed by the Louisiana Legislature relative to “staging of a motor vehicle accident.” This is under current House Bill No. 15 in the Louisiana House of Representatives (creating La. R.S. 14:68.4.1 and 68.4.2, and our full prior article is below for reference). We take this opportunity to provide some welcome updates as this matter came out of the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice.
House Bill No. 15
First, the language as to what constitutes staging has been cleaned up and simplified somewhat, if still a bit vague. Under Paragraph (A) of the primary statute, staging will explicitly now require the intent to defraud in the initial sentence, eliminating the need for multiple repetition of that requirement. Furthermore, apart from keeping the “causing” of an accident to obtain something of value, the amendments re-worked the additional actions constituting fraud to encompass the following:
- providing information in connection with a motor vehicle collision, knowing that the collision was intentionally caused, or
- providing false information in connection with a motor vehicle collision that did not occur.
These amendments cleaned up the multiple subparts of the original bill and are a good addition.
The Most Significant Amendment: Racketeering
However, the most significant amendment is that the bill now includes a change to La. R.S. 15:1352, Louisiana’s definitions of racketeering activity. If this bill passes, it would insert these two new crimes of staging and aggravated staging of accident as two explicit grounds of racketeering activity. This will allow not only easier and more all-encompassing prosecution of individuals involved in accident staging rings, but will also aid the victims of these stagings in seeking the civil relief to which they are entitled (including instances of treble damages) under Louisiana’s racketeering laws.
These are good changes, and our legislature is moving in the right direction to ensure that we not only root out those who would stage accidents, but also disincentivize such activity in the future. We will stay on top of this statute to provide future updates, which is currently awaiting hearing in the Louisiana Senate’s Judiciary C Committee.