The Florida State Statute 539 covers Pawn broking. Like most statutes it has room for interpretation. FLEPRU, the Pawn Broker Association, or even Attorneys can do nothing but give opinions on the interpretations. Only a Judicial decision can verify the true intent of the law on this or any other statute.
FLEPRU felt a need for some type of standardization for law enforcement officers when it came to the enforcement of 539 so we have developed the following guidelines. Let us stress that even though we have sought the input of the Florida Department of Agriculture, members of the Florida Pawn Brokers Association, and our members, this is only an interpretation and a guideline. What follows is not the only interpretation available and should be used as guidelines only. The final say as far as the determination of violations of 539 in your jurisdiction is ultimately the decisions of your agency and your Prosecutor until a judicial body makes an interpretation. It is suggested that these guidelines be discussed fully before any enforcement is implemented.
The pawn transaction form used by the pawnshop must be approved by the Department of Agriculture.
539.001(8)a- states specifically what has to be on the front of the pawn transaction form. The following are some of the major points of that section.
The last sentence of paragraph (a) of that section states; “In completing the pawnbroker transaction form, the Pawnbroker shall record the following information, which must be typed or written indelibly and legibly in English.”
The paragraph states, “shall record.” Which means that the information that 539 states must be included on the front of the form cannot be left blank. If, for example, the seller or the pledger is unemployed it should be stated so. Unemployed, none, or any other answer to indicate unemployment should be accepted.
To further back this interpretation 539.001(12) titled PROHIBITED ACTS states:
“A Pawnbroker, or an employee or agent of a pawnbroker, may not:
(a) Falsify or intentionally fail to make an entry of any material matter in a pawnbroker form.”
The following must be on the front of the form:
Most pawn transaction forms have specific spots for the above items but as long as it is included in the description portion it is not a violation. The information must be somewhere on the FRONT of the ticket. Statute 539 is not specific as to where additional information is to be included. Additional information may be on the front or back of the form.
If a number of similar items are pawned or sold at the same time and they do not have serial or model numbers and are not precious metals or gemstones, the description of the items is adequate if it contains the quantity of the items and the description of the type of items. An example of this is musical or video recordings, books, and hand tools. It can say for example, “12 music CDs”
The pawn transaction form must include the following personal information on the person pawning or selling the item:
The Pawn Transaction form has to be signed by the pledgor or seller
The Transaction form must have some indication of what employee completed this transaction. There have been times that Pawnbrokers were training others and used their initials on the ticket. Just remember the one that is indicated is the one responsible.
Typos are NOT a criminal violation. Typos should be reported to the Department of Agriculture if it appears to be a continuous problem.
A Pawnbroker has 24 hours to produce a ticket once requested if the shop electronically downloads or transfers.
It is recommended that on the first offense a warning be issued for the violation. After that time it should be the Officer’s discretion. It is also the Officers discretion to send each and every violation to the Department of Agriculture for their records and investigation. A copy of the pawn transaction form that the violation occurred on should be attached and sent with the warning or citation. A copy should be kept for your records also.
Florida State Statute (FSS) Chapter 539 regulates the regulation of Pawnbrokers within the State of Florida. FSS 539 gives a law enforcement officer the authority to inspect a pawnbroker/pawnshop within their jurisdiction during the hours of operation of the pawnshop.
The Florida Law Enforcement Property Recovery Unit suggests that when an inspection takes place the following procedures should be followed: