BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 2372
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          Date of Hearing:   April 20, 2010
          Counsel:        Milena Nelson

                                 Tom Ammiano, Chair

                   AB 2372 (Ammiano) - As Amended:  March 11, 2010

          SUMMARY  :   Increases the threshold amount that constitutes grand  
          theft from $400 to $950.  

           EXISTING LAW: 
          1)Defines "grand theft" as any theft where the money, labor, or  
            real or personal property taken or when the property is taken  
            from the person of another is of a value exceeding $400.   
            [Penal Code Sections 487(a) and 487(c).]

          2)Provides that grand theft is committed when the money, labor,  
            or real or personal property taken is of a value in excess of  
            $400, except as specified.  [Penal Code Section 487(a).]

          3)Provides that notwithstanding the value of the property taken,  
            grand theft is committed in any of the following cases [Penal  
            Code Section 487(b)]:

             a)   When domestic fowls, avocados, or other farm crops are  
               taken of a value exceeding $250;

             b)   When fish or other aquacultural products are taken from  
               a commercial or research operation that is producing that  
               product of a value exceeding $250;

             c)   Where money, labor or property is taken by a servant or  
               employee from his or her principal and aggregates $950 or  
               more in any consecutive 12-month period;

             d)   When the property is taken from the person of another;  

             e)   When the property taken is, among other things, an  
               automobile, horse or firearm. Provides that if the grand  
               theft involves the theft of a firearm, it is punishable by  


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               imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, 2 or 3 years.   
               (Penal Code Section 489.)

          4)Provides that in all other cases, grand theft is punishable by  
            imprisonment in county jail for not more than one year or in  
            the state prison.  (Penal Code Section 489.)

          5)Provides that theft in other cases is petty theft.  (Penal  
            Code Section 488.)

          6)States that petty theft is punishable by a fine not exceeding  
            $1,000; by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six  
            months; or both.  (Penal Code Section 490.)

          7)Provides that any person who enters specified buildings,  
            including a vehicle, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo  
            container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, with intent to  
            commit grand or petty theft or any felony is guilty of a  
            burglary.  (Penal Code Section 459.)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Author's Statement  :  According to the author, "Existing law  
            sets the minimum threshold for grand theft at $400.  This  
            amount has not been indexed for inflation and has not been  
            adjusted since 1982.  Last year, we adjusted the threshold for  
            39 property crimes but did not adjust grand theft.  Grand  
            theft was established as a crime in 1867 for crimes involving  
            more than $50.  That figure was first adjusted in 1923 and  
            increased to $200.  According to the United States Department  
            of Labor's Consumer Price Index, the $200 threshold  
            established in 1923 if adjusted for inflation would be $2,534  
            in 2010.  The $400 level established in 1982 would be around  
            $900 today.  AB 2372 adjusts the threshold amount for the  
            first time in a generation, taking into consideration these  
            inflationary factors, and sets the amount at $950.  Leaving  
            the grand theft threshold itself unchanged undermines the  
            impact of the other property crimes adjustment because the  
            crimes could alternatively be charged as grand theft.  In  
            2009, the Department of Corrections estimated savings of $68.4  
            million dollars for the 2010/11 Budget if all property crimes  
            were adjusted for inflation.  Leaving the grand theft  
            threshold unchanged undermines these savings.  The Department  


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            estimates there will be 2,152 fewer defendants sent to state  
            prison for these property crimes by December 2011 if AB 2732  
            is enacted into law."

           2)Threshold Value for Grand Theft Has Not Been Raised Since  
            1982  :  The current threshold amount to constitute grand theft  
            (a taking or loss in excess of $400) was established in the  
            1982-83 Legislative Session.  (Chapter 375, Statutes of 1982.)  
             The previous amount of $200 was established in 1923; up to  
            that time, the threshold amount was $50.  As measured by the  
            change in the Consumer Price Index, goods or services with a  
            value of $400 today were worth only $184 in 1983.  Expressed  
            another way, goods with a value of $400 in 1983 are worth $870  
            today.  Thus, many crimes that qualify as grand theft today  
            would not have been grand theft in 1983.  Theft of property  
            worth $870 in 2010 dollars (for example, a leather coat) could  
            not have been grand theft in 1983 when the current theft  
            thresholds took effect. 

           3)Related Legislation  :  SBx3 18 (Ducheny), Chapter 28, Statutes  
            of 2009, increased the threshold amount for thefts of  
            specified agricultural goods and specified aquacultural  
            products from $100 to $250.  SBx3 18 also increased the  
            threshold amount of thefts of money, labor, or real or  
            personal property taken by an agent, servant, or employee from  
            $400 to $950.  

           4)Prior Legislation  :  

             a)   AB 2705 (Goldberg), of the 2003-04 Legislative Session,  
               would have increased the threshold for grand theft from  
               $400 to $1,000 and the threshold amount for specified  
               thefts from $100 to $250.  AB 2705 was vetoed.  

             b)   AB 2668 (DeVore), of the 2007-08 Legislative Session,  
               would have included theft or vandalism of fire equipment  
               within the definition of grant theft.  AB 2668 failed  
               passage in this Committee.  

             c)   AB 2827 (Runner), Chapter 105, Statutes of 2008, added  
               defrauding a public housing authority to the definition of  
               grand theft.  



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          American Civil Liberties Union 
          California Coalition for Women Prisoners
          California Public Defenders Association  

          California Grocers Association

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Milena Nelson / PUB. S. / (916)