BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 924
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 30, 2013
          Counsel:        Gabriel Caswell


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                                 Tom Ammiano, Chair

                    AB 924 (Bigelow) - As Amended:  April 25, 2013
           

          SUMMARY  :  Specifies a fine of up to $5,000 for grand theft  
          involving livestock and earmarks those funds to the Bureau of  
          Livestock Identification for the purpose of investigating theft  
          of livestock.  Additionally separates livestock from automobiles  
          in the grand theft section.  

           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 $950.   
            [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  
            $950, except as specified.  [Penal Code Section 487(a).]

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Author's Statement  :  According to the author, "The financial  
            loss from animal theft can impact a family ranching operation  
            tremendously and can mean the difference in ending up in the  
            red or in the black on any given year. There has been a 60%  
            increase in the value of beef cattle over the last few years,  
            and as a result we have also seen an increase in theft. In  
            2012, the Bureau of Livestock Identification reported that  
            1,110 head of cattle were stolen a value of nearly $1 million.  
            AB 924 would give prosecutors the tools they need to  
            effectively administer the law and appropriately convict  
            persons found guilty of livestock theft. "

           2)Background  :  According to the background provided by the  
            author, "Existing law, particularly with the effects of  








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            realignment, is not adequate to properly deter livestock theft  
            and lacks specific provisions for prosecutors to use at their  
            discretion to enhance penalties. With the implementation of  
            Realignment, too many offenders including repeat offenders are  
            being convicted but receive no jail time at all. Instead,  
            almost all receive probation or nothing at all. The increasing  
            value of livestock has resulted in an exponential increase in  
            theft that has caused severe economic damage to the livelihood  
            of many ranchers throughout California. Livestock theft  
            negatively impacts a ranchers' bottom line and their ability  
            to care for their family and business."

          3)Specifies of a $5,000 Fine for Grand Theft of Livestock and  
            Earmarks the Proceeds  :  This bill seeks to specify a criminal  
            fine of no more than $5,000 for grand theft of specified  
            livestock.  This up to $5,000 fine is further earmarked to the  
            Bureau of Livestock Identification for the purpose of  
            investigating theft of livestock.  The specification of this  
            fine takes funds from any default fine which would have been  
            imposed on offenders convicted of grand theft of livestock  
            from the general fund of the State of California.   
           
           4)Argument in Support  :  According to the  California Cattlemen's  
            Association  "Simply put, AB 924 provides new and appropriate  
            penalty enhancements for prosecutors to use at their  
            discretion to ensure that the proper punishment can be  
            provided for repeat offenders and those convicted of felony  
            grand theft of livestock that have caused irreparable economic  
            damage to livelihoods of our state's family farmers and  
            ranchers. 

            "The financial loss from animal theft can impact a family  
            farming or ranching operation tremendously and can mean the  
            difference of ending up in the red or black on any given year.  
            The increasing value of livestock has unfortunately led to an  
            exponential increase in the rates and severity of livestock  
            theft. In some recent cases, an entire semitrailer load of  
            cattle were stolen equating to a nearly $40,000 loss to the  
            rancher. In many of these cases, those convicted of livestock  
            grand theft receive little to no punishment even if they have  
            already been convicted of livestock theft in the past. 

            "AB 924 also creates a new $5,000 fine that can be imposed on  
            a convicted offender for the specific purpose of assisting  
            coordination efforts between the California Department of Food  








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            and Agriculture's Bureau of Livestock Identification and local  
            law enforcement to identify potential suspects."

           5)Argument in Opposition  :  According to the  California Attorneys  
            for Criminal Justice  , "California Attorneys for Criminal  
            Justice (CACJ), a statewide association of criminal defense  
            attorneys, opposes Assembly Bill 924 (Bigelow).  This  
            legislation seeks to deter livestock theft by creating methods  
            to punish repeat offenders and those found guilty of high  
            value theft.  
             
             "Existing law establishes that theft of certain livestock is  
            punishable by imprisonment in county jail not to exceed one  
            year pursuant to 1170(h). This bill would create an additional  
            fine of $5,000 and continues the option of charging a felony  
            or misdemeanor for the theft of livestock."

           6)Prior Legislation  :  AB 1705 (Niello), Chapter 420, Statutes of  
            2007, increased the threshold for takings offenses.   
           
          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Agricultural Council of California 
          California Cattlemen's Association
          California Chamber of Commerce
          California Farm Bureau Federation
          California Grain and Seed Association
          California Poultry Federation
          Pacific Egg and Poultry Association
          Western United Dairyman


           Opposition 
           
          California Attorneys for Criminal Justice 
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Gabriel Caswell / PUB. S. / (916)  
          319-3744 












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