California seeks to make some robberies misdemeanors

Those who fail to learn from their own history are clearly destined to repeat it. That’s what seems to be happening in the California legislature this month as SB82 is being debated and is expected to come up for a vote. The bill would reclassify some robberies as misdemeanors, leading to much lighter sentences, potentially not even resulting in any jail time for the offenders. We should keep in mind that there is a critical difference between a robbery and a theft. If you steal some money that someone left on the dashboard of their parked car, that’s theft. If you stick a gun in someone’s face or otherwise intimidate them and demand that they give you their wallet, that’s a robbery. Robbery is currently a felony in the Golden State, but that may be about to change if SB82 passes. (CBS Sacramento)

A controversial bill in the state legislature would make some robberies a misdemeanor, not a felony.

Senate Bill 82, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would turn robberies under $950 that don’t involve weapons or cause serious injuries into petty thefts.

The penalty would be a maximum of one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and offenders would qualify for a diversion program.

If this passes into law, a criminal would be able to rob someone of up to $950 in cash or valuables and as long as they didn’t use a gun or put them in the hospital, it would be treated the same as a petty theft charge. Since “diversion programs” are being offered as a possible sentence, the robber might not spend a single day in jail. (Diversion programs are typically counseling sessions intended to help you see the error of your ways.)

What do you suppose is going to happen when criminals get wind of this change? California has some history to draw upon in answering that question. As you may recall, back in 2014, the state passed Proposition 47, which decriminalized retail theft of merchandise worth less than $950. To the tremendous shock of everyone (not), the state then experienced five straight years of steadily increasing numbers of retail theft incidents. “Smash and grab” robberies became commonplace and businesses incurred serious losses.

Later on, the state doubled down by essentially decriminalizing shoplifting. The result was a series of stores, including many of Walgreens’ outlets, shutting down and leaving the state because they were being robbed so often. Store managers were instructing employees not to try to interfere with the shoplifters for fear of being sued in retaliation.

How is this not obvious to California’s elected officials and how do they keep making the same mistakes over and over again? When you take away or vastly reduce the penalty for bad behavior, a certain number of criminally inclined individuals are going to take advantage of your leniency, knowing that they will receive little more than a slap on the wrist if they are somehow apprehended and charged. If you significantly reduce the penalty for committing the far more serious and dangerous crime of robbery of persons, there are going to be more people getting robbed. And inevitably, some of those robberies are going to take an ugly twist and victims will wind up being seriously injured or worse.

These liberal beliefs that criminals are just misunderstood, underserved individuals who would behave better if the legal system were just “nicer” to them are both hilarious and frightening. Our society contains criminal elements and that’s just a reality we have to deal with. When we’re back here one year after the passage of the bill (assuming it passes), reporting on the steep rise in robberies in California, please don’t ask why nobody warned you it was going to happen.

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