Attention all you would be shoplifters! California just released its greatest hits with the passing of Prop. 47, just in time for the holidays.
Much to the chagrin of retailers throughout California, this new law allows someone to shoplift items with values up to $950 and still avoid being charged with a felony. If someone can get an LG-7.3 Ultralarge-Capacity Steam Electric Dryer, an $849 value, passed Best Buy’s security, it’s theirs. If they happened to get caught, no worries, it’s only a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony which went the way of last year’s Ferby. In most cases the offender will not be taken to jail, only handed a citation and a notice to appear.
To further illustrate the new law, a person can walk in to an Apple Store and and out with a stolen iPhone 6 while carrying a baggy of Rohypnol in one pocket and a pad of forged checks in the other with no threat of a felony violation. Imagine the reduction in stress in one of the most stressful times of the year.
Prop. 47 has had an immediate impact. According to several news reports, jail beds are being freed up due to fewer felony arrests. Felony courts are seeing a major reduction in cases while misdemeanor courts have been instantaneously overloaded. Fewer appearance bonds are being written due to fewer arrests and those with pending felony cases are petitioning the courts to reduce their charges to misdemeanors. It’s too soon to know the impact this reduction in deterrence will have on crime.
San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer was recently quoted in the SFExaminer.com on the issue of being in possession of Rohypnol now being a misdemeanor offense, saying, “To make date rape drugs a misdemeanor boggles the mind.” She was further quoted saying, “What compassionate person would say possession of date rape drugs should be a misdemeanor?”
The penalty for bad behavior has gone from a clank of a cell door to a slap on the wrist. Bad behavior is now being rewarded which only begets more bad behavior. While reducing the level of some felony offenses to misdemeanors may have merit there are many that do not. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to address the various criminal violations in smaller numbers rather than one big sweeping change.
One thig is for certain, Black Friday 2014 in California will be an all-together new experience this year. Happy holidays!