Did you know that price-gouging during an emergency is a crime?
Today, San Diego district attorney, Summer Stephan, announced that price gouging during the COVID19 outbreak will not be tolerated.
California’s tough anti-price gouging statute, Penal Code Section 396, makes raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10% during an emergency unlawful. Get the California Attorney General’s Price Gouging FAQ here.
Violations of 396 are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in up to one-year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Violations are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution.
It is good to know that our District Attorney is sending a clear message to those who plan to profit from human misery.
How price gouging is prosecuted
The Attorney General, local district attorneys, and private individuals (that’s you) can bring actions for violations of the statute.
If you’ve been gouged, and you live outside San Diego County, you should contact your local district attorney, or can also hire an attorney to explore your options.
Reports to the California Attorney General
California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has the option of investigating or prosecuting price gouging. Anyone who has been the victim of price gouging can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by calling (800) 952-5225, or using the online complaint form.