PA 17-49—HB 7250

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING DESECRATION OF AN ABANDONED CEMETERY

SUMMARY: This act expands the crime of interference with a cemetery or burial ground to include desecrating an abandoned cemetery (see BACKGROUND). It applies to abandoned cemeteries the same actions that constitute interference with a cemetery or burial ground under existing law:

1. intentionally destroying, mutilating, defacing, injuring, or removing all or part of a tomb, monument, gravestone, or other structure placed or designed for a memorial, or any burial fence, railing, curb, or other enclosure or

2. wantonly or maliciously disturbing the contents of any tomb or grave.

Under existing law for cemeteries and burial grounds, the crime does not apply to actions that are authorized by the (1) owner of the burial lot; (2) deceased's lineal descendants; or (3) municipality, cemetery association, or person or authority responsible for controlling or managing the cemetery or burial ground. However, the act does not grant any exceptions for actions taken with respect to abandoned cemeteries.

Under existing law, interference with a cemetery or burial ground is a class C felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The law specifies that a person who commits this crime must be fined at least $500.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

Abandoned Cemetery

By law, an abandoned cemetery is one that meets one of the following criteria:

1. no burial has occurred during the previous 40 years, and the lots or graves have not been maintained during the last 10 years except for maintenance by the municipality in which it is located;

2. no lots have been sold in the last 40 years, and most lots or graves have not been maintained during the last 10 years except for maintenance by the municipality; or

3. one burial has occurred in the past 40 years when a permit was issued after the burial.