Theft of up to 1,000 Dollars Is Not Unpunishable in the USA

Фото: Принтскрин видео

Photo: Screenshot from CCTV

Proposition 47 adopted in 2014 in California, which is not applicable in all states of the US, reclassifies felony theft like shoplifting under 1,000 dollars, from an offense into a misdemeanor. That does not mean that one is not held responsible for such a theft. For this kind of offense, thieves can be given a fine of up to 1,000 dollars or both a fine and jail time. Proposition 47 introduced a new offense called “shoplifting”, punishable up to six months in jail, according to the courts in California. The aim of this proposal is not to allow thieves to freely operate but to reduce the number of inmates in the prisons in California. And, unlike the claim in the post, the thief in the video will not go unpunished but will be held responsible for the misdeeds


We are fact-checking a post on Facebook (screenshot here) claiming that a theft of up to 1,000 dollars in the USA is not considered a theft and due to that, complete anarchy has taken over the country. The post is sharing a video showing a man robbing a shop, after which he was attacked and beaten up by two employees.

Complete anarchy has taken over the USA. Following the announcement that thefts under 1,000 dollars are not considered as thefts – and in some states they even prohibited the right of shop security personnel to intervene in petty thefts.
Nevertheless, not all shopkeepers are prepared to just watch their shops being robbed, vandalized and destroyed while they are paying rent and salaries and working round the clock.
The video shows what the absence of a state can lead to, along with crime-tolerating authorities to the detriment of the law-abiding citizens whose taxes support that same state.
The shopowner is a Hindu Sikh, and these guys have really had it, so they are taking things into their own hands.
People cannot last forever, specifies the post.

The post lacks an explanation about a few things. First, the interpretation that thefts up to 1,000 dollars in the USA are not considered thefts is incorrect. Further, it does not explain when and where the act in the video is taking place and what were the ramifications thereof. But, let’s take one thing at a time.

What does Proposition 47 do in California?
In 2014, the USA state of California adopted Proposition 47 that reclassifies felony theft from offense to misdemeanor. But this proposal, as analyzed by Associated Press, does not allow shoplifting and petty theft to go unprosecuted.

The same topic is analyzed on the website of the fact-checker Verify this.

No, you can’t steal up to 950 dollars worth of merchandise in California without consequence under Proposition 47. The proposition reduced the punishment for certain theft crimes, but it still classifies shoplifting as a misdemeanor, specifies the website in its analysis.

The 2014 proposition modified, but did not eliminate, sentencing for many nonviolent property and drug crimes, explains Associated Press.

What Proposition 47 did was take very low-level crimes like petty theft, some petty drug offenses, petty larceny, and classify them as misdemeanors rather than felonies. It does not mean that you’re not prosecuted or that you aren’t committing a crime, says Charis Kubrin, professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvin, who wrote a study examining the impact of Proposition 47 on crime rates.

Proposition 47 was enacted to comply with a 2011 California Supreme Court order, which upheld that California’s overcrowded prisons violated incarcerated individuals’ Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

In 2011, our prisons were bursting at the seams and California was ranked either first or second behind Texas in having the highest per capita incarceration rate of any state in the country. It was so bad that the Supreme Court stepped in and told us we needed to reduce our prison population by 33,000 individuals, says Kubrin.

He clarifies that the goal of Proposition 47 was to limit the prison population, to reduce the number of people sent to state prisons.

Proposition 47 has achieved that goal while not causing crime rates to go up, says Kubrin decidedly.

As explained by Verify this, the Proposition created a new misdemeanor called “shoplifting”, which is punishable by up to six months in county jail, according to the California Courts. Attorneys (here, here and here) say shoplifters could also face a fine of up to 1,000 Dollars, or both a fine and jail time, specifies the website in its analysis.

Shoplifting is defined under California’s Penal Code as “entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property that is taken, or intended to be taken, does not exceed 950 US dollars”.

Hence, Proposition 47 modified, not eliminated the punishment of many non-violent criminal acts with property and drugs. It is applicable in California only, not throughout the entire territory of the USA, as falsely claimed by the post we are fact-checking.

Will the thief from the video be held responsible?
Concerning the video shared in the post, the theft took place in Stockton, California. The two employees who beat up the thief and called the Police, as reported by New York Post, said that after the Department collected more evidence, it will turn over the findings and assault investigations to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office.

Following numerous public speculations that the shop employees will be responsible for beating up the thief, the District Attorney’s Office denied the information.

The Stockton Seven-Eleven store clerks are not, and have never been, suspects of the San Joaquin County District Attorney. Any investigation going forward is to hold accountable the individual who threatened and attempted to rob them, said District Attorney Ron Freitas, reported Recordnet.

Hence, the thief will be held responsible. He will not go unpunished as the post claims that the ”video shows the results of lack of state and crime tolerance by the authorities”.

From all this, we can conclude that shoplifting that does not exceed 1,000 dollars, according to Proposition 47 enacted in 2014 in California and that is not applicable throughout the entire USA, re-classifies such an offense as misdemeanor. That does not mean, however, that such an offense is not punishable. For such acts, thieves may be fined with up to 1,000 dollars, or both, a fine and jail time. Proposition 47 introduced a new offence called “shoplifting” which is punishable with incarceration in county jail for up to six months, according to the courts in California. The goal of this Proposition is not to allow robbers to steal freely, but to reduce the number of inmates in the prisons in California. And, unlike the claim in the post, the thief in the video will not go unpunished, but will be held responsible for all of his actions.

Hence, the conclusion is that the post lacks context.


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