SPRINGFIELD – Senior citizens and persons with disabilities who are being exploited will now have new tools to recover stolen assets, thanks to a new law sponsored by State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and State Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Watseka).
“It is unconscionable that anyone would take advantage of senior citizens or individuals with disabilities,” said Sen. Barickman. “This new law will help them to recover stolen assets through the civil court system, regardless of whether the perpetrators are convicted in a criminal court.”
Signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Bill1588 – sometimes referred to as Perry’s Law – changes the civil liability provision of laws on the exploitation of senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. Previously, victims could only file civil cases if a criminal case resulted in a conviction, regardless of evidence of guilt, and criminal courts have higher burdens of proof than civil courts. This legislation waives the requirement of conviction in bringing civil cases to court.
“These are significant changes that will help those victimized get the justice they deserve, and their finances restored. They also put the thieves on notice – if you try to take advantage of the elderly or disabled, you will pay,” Rep. Bennett said.
The new law was inspired Perry Bitzel, who lost significant assets due to exploitation by a relative, but has had difficulties seeking restitution due to current laws.
| Perry Bitzel (seated on left) and friends and family join Senator Barickman, Representative Tom Bennett and Governor Bruce Rauner for the signing of “Perry’s Law.”