As everyone in the valley is well aware, we have been hit by an unprecedented wave of foreclosures. The banks holding these notes have been completely unwilling to modify the principal of these loans. They have agreed to short sales and to loan modifications, but these processes are frustrating and time consuming at best. Unfortunately, frustration with the process has led some homeowners to enact a measure of revenge by damaging the home that is about to go into foreclosure.
The Nevada Legislature has passed, and the Governor has signed, a law that criminalizes such actions. The law makes it a misdemeanor for a person to conceal remove or destroy property if: 1) the person knows of a foreclosure proceeding, 2) an entity or person holds a security interest in the property, 3) the person acted with the intent to defraud the secured party and 4) the person’s actions causes the secured party to suffer monetary loss at foreclosure. The final Bill is much less severe than the original Bill. The original Bill made it a Class E Felony. A Class E Felony is punishable by 1-4 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. A misdemeanor is defined as a crime punished by no more than 6 months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. Moreover, the original Bill only required that the prosecutor prove that there was intent to diminish the value of the property. In the current Bill, the person must have acted with the intent to defraud the secured party. Under the original Bill, an innocent homeowner simply trying to remove an improvement could have been convicted of a felony and sent away to the state prison for well over a year. The law takes effect on October 1, 2011.