A Recent California Supreme Court Decision Says So
From the orange County register
OPINION BY JOHN PHILLIPS
A staple of the old Oprah Winfrey Show was the prize giveaway at the end of the program, where “Lady O” would shower her audiences with everything from complimentary macaroni and cheese to brand new cars. The crowd would cheer and the viewing audience would be envious.
But even now that Oprah is off the air, people can still cruise around town freely in rides they didn’t pay for — courtesy of your local Golden State courthouse.
“You get a car! And you get a car! And you get car!”
In a recent California Supreme Court decision, the justices unanimously ruled that any person convicted of a felony for stealing a car may have that conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if the vehicle was worth no more than $950.
The decision, which overturned lower court rulings, came as an interpretation of California’s voter-approved — but spectacularly disastrous — Proposition 47, which reduced any number of drug and theft related felonies to misdemeanors.
Now, if you steal somebody’s car, instead of going to jail, you may just be issued a citation. Driving a vehicle you legally own over the speed limit could literally result in a larger fine than stealing somebody else’s ride.
Maybe it’s a clever, back-door way of fighting childhood obesity. “Johnny, why do you keep sitting in front of that TV playing Grand Theft Auto indoors when you could be out in the warm sunshine stealing actual cars?!”
Or it could just another example of the state of California doing everything they can to empty the prisons and flood the streets with convicted criminals in the name of “sentencing reform.”
My money is on the latter.
Michelle Hanisee, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, says that this loose interpretation of the law doesn’t just apply to cars.
She told my KABC-AM colleague Doug McIntyre on his weekday morning radio program, “You can walk into Best Buy or Sears or any big package store. Walk out with a big flat screen TV, as long as it’s under $950 and you can do that every day of the week. And every day of the week it’s still going to be a misdemeanor, no matter how many times you do it, and at most you’re just going to get a citation to appear.”
Who needs to wait in line for a Black Friday sale when the old five-finger discount lasts all year long?
Not even Amazon can beat those prices!
I would note that turning a blind eye to these crimes will hurt the working poor the most.
Think about who out there is driving around in a $950 beater. It’s not going be a captain of industry in a top hat and monocle, it’s going to be some poor sap working a minimum wage job just trying to put food on the table. If some jerk decides to steal that person’s car, it can take away their livelihood.
And since criminals have now been given a free pass to steal from retail stores at will, the lost revenue as a result of the thefts will be passed on to the consumer through increased prices, which again hurts the poor the most.
In what world is that fair?
In a twisted way this also feeds into the narrative that California politicians are launching a war on motorists.
In recent months legislators passed an 11-cent per gallon gas tax, upped the vehicle license fee, and also approved expansive cap-and-trade legislation that will eventually raise the gas tax by 71-cents a gallon.
Now the state is making it easier for criminals to steal your car.
It’s safe to say that California drivers have been thrown under the bus by the courts and our elected leaders — which I suppose is fitting, because soon buses will be the only vehicles left on the road.