BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 2372
                                                                  Page  1

          AB 2372 (Ammiano)
          As Amended  March 11, 2010
          Majority vote 

           PUBLIC SAFETY       5-2         APPROPRIATIONS      11-4        
          |Ayes:|Ammiano, Beall, Hill,     |Ayes:|Fuentes, Ammiano,         |
          |     |Portantino, Skinner       |     |Bradford,                 |
          |     |                          |     |Charles Calderon, Coto,   |
          |     |                          |     |Davis,                    |
          |     |                          |     |De Leon, Hall, Norby,     |
          |     |                          |     |Skinner, Torlakson        |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |Nays:|Hagman, Gilmore           |Nays:|Conway, Harkey, Miller,   |
          |     |                          |     |Nielsen                   |
           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.  

          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.  

          3)Provides that notwithstanding the value of the property taken,  
            grand theft is committed in any of the following cases:

             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;


                                                                  AB 2372
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             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  
               imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, 2 or 3 years.  

          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.  

          5)Provides that theft in other cases is petty theft.  

          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.  

          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  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee analysis, significant annual General Fund savings in  
          the range of $40 million as a result of fewer first-time felony  
          state prison commitments.  Based on the 4,800 persons committed  
          to state prison in 2007 and 2008 for grand theft, if this bill  
          reduced this number by 33%, based on an average time served of  
          12 months, annual savings would be in the range of $37 million. 

          There would be a corresponding nonreimbursable increase in local  
          jail costs to the extent that offenses that would have been  
          charged as a felony - and punishable by state prison - are now  
          charged as misdemeanors - punishable by up to six months in  
          county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.  These local costs  
          would be about one-half the potential state savings, offset to a  
          degree by increased fine revenue.  The effect of this bill on  
          repeat offenders would be minimal as a person convicted of petty  
          theft, who has a prior petty theft conviction and served time  
          for that conviction, may be charged with a felony, punishable by  
          up to one year in county jail, or by 16 months, 2, or 3 years in  
          state prison. 


                                                                  AB 2372
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          Last year, the budget conference committee proposed a similar  
          adjustment to the basic grand theft threshold.  Ultimately,  
          however, this proposal was shelved, even though a series of  
          related property crime thresholds were adjusted for inflation.   
          As a result, $34 million in budget savings was scored, though  
          because the basic grand theft statute was not increased, and  
          because the related property crimes can also be charged under  
          the grand theft statute, the savings did not materialize.

           COMMENTS  :   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  
          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."

          Please see the policy committee for a full discussion of this  
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Milena Nelson / PUB. S. / (916)  

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