Retailers Support California Initiative Raising Penalties For Crimes

California retailers have declared their support for a new ballot proposition that would raise penalties for drug and property crimes as they continue to suffer under the state’s soft-on-crime policies that have led to skyrocketing crime.

The new ballot proposition, titled The Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act, seeks to reverse the effects of Proposition 47 — a ballot measure approved by voters in 2014 that reclassified several non-violent offenses as misdemeanors rather than felonies, which reduced their penalties.

Among the offenses reduced to misdemeanors were shoplifting and grand theft, which have both increased significantly in the years since Proposition 47 was passed. Since California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) took office in 2019, these crimes have become even more common, with the commercial robbery rate in California increasing by 13.3%, according to a study from the Public Policy Institute of California. The study also showed that shoplifting increased by 28.7% in 2022, with the largest increase in shoplifting being in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If the new ballot proposition passes, these offenses will be reclassified as felonies once again.

A representative for the California Retailers Association explained their support for the initiative in a statement to the Daily Caller.

“Cal Retailers supports the initiative,” the representative wrote, adding: “This issue is too important to the safety of our employees, our customers, and the communities in which we operate to not find effective solutions.”

Family Business Association of California executive director Robert Rivinius also expressed support for the initiative in an email to the Daily Caller, writing: “We certainly support amending Prop 47, of which the unintended consequences have been disastrous.”

California’s Constitution allows individuals charged with misdemeanor offenses to be released without conditions before trial unless the court deems them a threat to public safety, which has led to many repeat offenses while criminals are awaiting trial. With the new ballot proposition raising these offenses to felonies, courts will have the ability to set higher bail and stricter release conditions for defendants, which supporters of the initiative argue will deter crime.

“Under this Act, an offender with two prior convictions for theft can be charged with a felony, regardless of the value of the stolen property,” the initiative states, which is a significant change from Proposition 47’s threshold of $950 for felony offenses.

The initiative would also “authorize greater consequences for hard drug dealers whose trafficking kills or seriously injures a person who uses those drugs.”

The ballot proposition would effect offenses such as burglary, carjacking, robbery, receiving stolen property, shoplifting, drug trafficking, identity theft and mail theft.

Thomas Hiltachk, the partner of a Sacramento-based law firm, Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk LLP, proposed the ballot initiative, and it was later approved for circulation by California’s secretary of state on October 26. The measure has received a lot of support from businesses across the state, including Walmart, which donated $500,000 to the campaign, according to Politico.

“Enough is enough, we need to fight back against the criminals who are stealing from our communities. We have seen the unintended consequences of Prop. 47’s weakening of our theft laws and I believe California voters are ready to make their voices heard on this issue again,” former state Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D) told CalMatters.

In order to put the initiative on the ballot, it must receive supporting signatures from 546,651 registered voters in California by April 23, 2024.