Posted on January 1, 2019

California “Organized Retail Theft” Law – Penal Code 490.4 PC

In California, there are several ways a person may be charged under penal code 490.4(a) pc.[1] The law make it unlawful for someone to coordinate, organize, entice, aid, act as an agent, receive stolen property, or act in concert with another for the purposes of carrying out a theft from a merchants premises or online marketplace. Depending on the conduct and circumstances, the crime is either a misdemeanor, or a wobbler – allowing the prosecutor to file misdemeanor or felony charges.

Organized retail theft carries harsher penalties since it’s more of an aggravated form of shoplifting. Moreover, this charges carries much more of a degree of sophistication since the offender is acting in premeditated concert with another to carry out.

Organized retail theft was enacted January 1, 2019 that criminalize conduct that overlaps with other crimes including conspiracy, receiving stolen property, shoplifting, and grand theft. However, the statute is set to be repealed on January 1, 2021.

Below are four (4) ways you could be charged with organized retail theft:

  1. You acted in concert with one or more persons to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises or online marketplace with the intent to sell, exchange, or return the merchandise for value.
  2. You acted in concert with two or more persons to receive, purchase, or possess merchandise, described above, knowing or believing the merchandise was stolen.
  3. You acted as an agent of another individual or group to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises or online marketplaces as part of an organized plan to commit theft.
  4. You recruited, coordinated, organized, supervised, directed, managed, or financed another to undertake any of the acts describe in above paragraphs 1 or 2 or any other statute defining theft or merchandise.

Punishment for PC 490.4(a)

  • PC 490.4(a)(1)-(3): A violation of these sections is a misdemeanor carrying up to one (1) year in the county jail and a fine not exceeding $1,000.[2] However, if any of these sections are committed on two or more separate occasions within a 12-month period, and the aggregated value of the merchandise stolen, received, purchase, or possessed exceeds $950, then the offense is a wobbler.[3]
  • PC 490.4(a)(4): A misdemeanor sentence carries up to one (1) year in the county whereas a felony is punishable by 16 months, 2, or 3 years.[4]

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested or charged with penal code 490.4 pc, then contact an experienced Orange County theft crimes attorney[5] at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Contact our office today to schedule a free confidential case consultation.

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Footnotes:

[1] Penal Code 490.4(a) defined: A person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of organized retail theft, and shall be punished pursuant to subdivision (b):

(1) Acts in concert with one or more persons to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises or online marketplace with the intent to sell, exchange, or return the merchandise for value.

(2) Acts in concert with two or more persons to receive, purchase, or possess merchandise described in paragraph (1), knowing or believing it to have been stolen.

(3) Acts as an agent of another individual or group of individuals to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises or online marketplaces as part of an organized plan to commit theft.

(4) Recruits, coordinates, organizes, supervises, directs, manages, or finances another to undertake any of the acts described in paragraph (1) or (2) or any other statute defining theft of merchandise.

[2] See Penal Code 490.4(b)(2): Any other violation of paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subdivision (a) that is not described in paragraph (1) of this subdivision is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.

[3] See Penal Code 490.4(b)(1): If violations of paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subdivision (a) are committed on two or more separate occasions within a 12-month period, and if the aggregated value of the merchandise stolen, received, purchased, or possessed within that 12-month period exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), the offense is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

[4] See Penal Code 490.4(b)(3): A violation of paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

[5] Our Orange County criminal lawyers handle cases all throughout southern California including Orange County, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Van Nuys, San Fernando, Malibu, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Dana Point, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Fullerton, Anaheim, Seal Beach, Mission Viejo, Long Beach, Torrance, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Venice, Pasadena, Norwalk, Hermosa Beach, Sherman Oaks, Hollywood, Irvine, Tustin, Yorba Linda, Aliso Viejo, Fountain Valley, and Garden Grove.

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