California Business & Professions Code Section 12024 BPC: Selling Short Quantity

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimedeceptive business practices

The California legislature has enacted statutes intended to protect consumers from fraudulent and deceptive business practices. Under California Business and Professions Code Section 12024 BPC, it is illegal to sell any commodity in a smaller quantity than what is represented. Both individuals and businesses can be charged with this misdemeanor level offense.

In order to convict a defendant of selling a short quantity, a prosecutor would have to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant, by himself or herself, or through, or for another

  2. Sold a commodity

  3. In less quantity than he or she represented.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Misrepresentation of Charge for Service – California Business and Professions Code Section 12024.1 BPC

  2. Inaccurate Pricing – California Business and Professions Code Section 12024.2 BPC

  3. Petty Theft – California Penal Code Section 484(a) PC
3. Examples

A man owns and operates a delicatessen that sells a variety of meat products by the pound. The man wants to increase his profits so he adjusts his scale so that it registers two ounces above true weight. An inspector from the Department of Weights and Measures discovers the weighted scale. This man could be charged with selling short quantity in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 12024 BPC. The man could be charged with a misdemeanor if the offense was willful or if the monetary value of the shortage exceeded $2.

In another example, a man runs a popular bagel shop that sells bagels by the dozen. On one particularly busy day, the man is short-staffed and fills orders by himself. Because the man is so busy, he accidentally provides 11 bagels instead of a full dozen to some of his customers. The man would not be guilty of a misdemeanor offense, because his conduct was not willful and the monetary value of the shortage did not exceed $2. However, he could be cited for a violation of Business and Professions Code Section 12024 as an infraction.

4. Defenses to Selling Short Quantity

As mentioned above, a defendant’s violation must be willful and intentional in order for misdemeanor charges to apply. If the short quantity occurred as the result of an accident or through negligence and if the monetary value of the shortage did not exceed $2, the defendant could only be charged with an infraction.

5. Penalties

Selling short quantity is a misdemeanor level offense where the violation was willful, where the total monetary value of the shortage, calculated on the basis of the average error of an individual lot exceeded $2 or where the total monetary value of the shortages, calculated on the basis of the average error of each individual lot, as determined from a sample of packages selected within all lots found to be in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 12024 BPC exceeded $10. Anyone convicted of this offense can be sentenced to serve up to a year in jail and may be assessed up to $1000 in fines. If the violation involved less monetary value than specified above and if the violation was not willful, the defendant can be charged with an infraction, which carries a $100 fine.

6. Criminal Defense for Selling Short Quantity Cases

If you or your business have been cited for a violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 12024 BPC, it is imperative that you meet with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Not only can these types of criminal charges jeopardize a business, the owner of the business can potentially be sent to jail if convicted. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who was previously assigned to the District Attorney Office’s elite Major Fraud Unit. Mr. Kraut has extensive experience in assisting those charged with white collar offenses. In many cases, Mr. Kraut is able to intervene before a criminal case has been filed in order to have charges significantly reduced or even rejected altogether if retained early enough. Mr. Kraut is highly respected by judges, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel for his extensive knowledge of the law.

For more information about selling short quantity, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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