April 22, 2024

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Assemblymember James Ramos Announces OC Legislator as Joint Author in Bill to Count Prior Convictions in Determining Retail Theft Penalties

2 min read

Ramos' proposed bill would result in changes to the 2014 Proposition 47 initiative.

Assemblymember James Ramos (D-San Bernardino) today announced his colleague, Assemblymember Avelino Valencia (D-Anaheim) is a joint author of AB 1772 which would impose sterner penalties against retail theft suspects with a history of prior convictions.

If approved, suspects would be penalized with a jail time instead of a no-jail time misdemeanor offense if they have two or more prior theft offenses. Those offenses would include grand theft, theft from an elder or dependent adult, theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle, burglary, carjacking, robbery, receiving stolen property, shoplifting or mail theft.

If the bill becomes law, theft crimes by suspects with priors would be penalized with specified periods of jail time at the discretion of prosecutors and judges. Punishment could range from imprisonment in the county jail ranging from six months to as long as three years.

Valencia stated, “An increase in theft has left our businesses defenseless and Californians feeling vulnerable and uneasy. Insufficient consequences allow individuals to become brazen, recommitting theft over and over again. Today we are taking steps to protect our businesses and communities from further alienation and insecurity.”

Ramos said, “I am proud to add Assemblymember Valencia as a joint author. He is an effective and thoughtful colleague who won’t quit in the much-needed effort to reverse recent spikes in theft crimes that have resulted in closed shops and small businesses and in some instances endangered shoppers, and employees.” Ramos added, “Since the pandemic, these crimes have increased. That is not the direction California needs to go.“ He added, “The Public Policy Institute reported that the 2022 rates for commercial burglary rates had increased by almost 16 percent compared to 2019. The PPIC also reported that shoplifting in 2022 had increased by nearly 29% from the pandemic years.”

In 2014, voters approved Prop 47 by a 60% to 40% vote and categorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors rather than felonies. One provision increased the threshold amount for theft misdemeanors from $450 to $950 and did not allow prior such convictions to count toward the new $950 threshold. If Ramos’s measure becomes law, it would become effective only upon voters’ consent at the next statewide election. AB 1772 does not state a new threshold for triggering the increased penalties for retail theft, only the existence of prior convictions on the suspect’s criminal record.

In February 2023, the legislator requested the state auditor to review the effectiveness of Proposition 47 to determine whether it had escalated crime rates in San Bernardino and Riverside counties and if so, what categories had been affected. The auditor’s report is expected later this year.

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