Business and Professions Code 12024 BPC - Selling a False Quantity

Business and Professions Code 12024 BPC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to sell a commodity in less quantity than he represents. This section states that

Every person, who by himself or herself, or through or for another, sells any commodity in less quantity than he or she represents it to be is guilty of a misdemeanor, except as provided in Section 12024.3.

A “commodity” is basically an actual item that comes out of the Earth and is bought or sold in commerce. A few examples of a commodity include:

  • wheat,
  • oranges,
  • gold,
  • coal, and
  • oil.

Examples of illegal acts under BPC 12024 include:

  • A farmer promises to sell a manufacturer 1,000 pounds of corn, but actually only sells 900 pounds at the same price
  • The owner of a fruit stand “fixes” his scale and sells his customers fruit in less quantities than they believe they are getting – all for increased profits for the owner.
  • A landscape supply company routinely sells and delivers to its customers gravel in less quantities than the company promises.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person or entity can raise if accused of a crime under Business and Professions Code 12024. These include showing that an accused party:

  • committed an accident;
  • did not make a sale; and/or,
  • was arrested without probable cause.

Penalties

A violation of BPC 12024 is charged as a misdemeanor (as opposed to a California felony or an infraction). The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

california selling false quantity
California Business and Professions Code 12024 BPC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to sell a commodity in less quantity than he represents.

1. The legal definition of selling a false quantity

California Business and Professions Code 12024 BPC is the California statute that applies to business and merchants selling false quantities of goods.

A prosecutor must prove three elements in order to successfully convict a defendant under this statute. These are:

  1. the defendant, either by himself or through another;
  2. sold a commodity; and,
  3. did so in less quantity than he or she represented.1

A “commodity” is a basic good sold to consumers in commerce. Some examples include:

  • oranges,
  • carrots,
  • meats,
  • electricity, and
  • natural gas.

Please note that an accused is not guilty under BPC 12024 if he sold someone a lesser quantity of a good by accident. A seller's actions must be intentional.

2. Legal Defenses

A person accused under Business and Professions Code 12024 can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed. Please note, though, that it is critical for an accused to hire an attorney to get the most effective defense.

Three common defenses to BPC 12024 accusations are:

  1. accident;
  2. no sale; and/or,
  3. no probable cause

2.1. Accident

An accused is not guilty under BPC 12024 if he sold someone a lesser quantity of a good by accident. A seller's actions must be intentional. A defendant, therefore, can always try and prove his innocence by showing that he made a simple mistake or committed an accident.

2.2. No sale

Please recall that a prosecutor must show that a party actually “sold” a good in order to convict that party under BPC 12024. If there is no sale of a commodity, then there is no guilt. This means a valid legal defense is for an accused to challenge the fact that a good was actually sold.

2.3. No probable cause

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that police must have probable cause before they can detain or arrest a suspect of a crime.

If a person was stopped or arrested for violating BPC 12024, and there was no probable cause, then any evidence obtained following the improper stop/arrest could get excluded from the case. This exclusion could result in the dismissal or reduction in charges.

“Probable cause” essentially means that there is a reasonable belief that someone committed a crime (based on all of the circumstances).

man behind bars
A violation of this law can result in a fine and/or jail time

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

A violation of BPC 12024 is charged as a misdemeanor.2 The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.3

Please note that in lieu of jail time a judge may order a defendant to misdemeanor probation. This is also called “summary” or “informal” probation.

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to the selling of goods in false quantities. These are:

  1. theft by trick or device;
  2. misrepresentation of charges – BPC 12024.1; and,
  3. false pricing – BPC 12024.2.

4.1. Theft by trick or device

It is a crime in California for a party to use fraud or deceit to obtain possession to money, labor, or real property. This crime is generally known as “theft by trick or device.”

If the offense involves the theft of property valued at $950 or less, than the defendant is guilty of petty theft, per California Penal Code 484(a) PC.

A PC 484(a) violation is charged as a misdemeanor.4 The penalties include:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.5

If theft by trick or device involves property valued at more than $950, than the defendant is guilty of grand theft, per California Penal Code 487.

In most cases, grand theft is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.6

The maximum potential sentence for a misdemeanor charge is up to one year in county jail. A felony grand theft charge carries a maximum potential sentence of three years in prison.7

4.2. Misrepresentation of charges – 12024.1

California Business and Professions Code 12024.1 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a party to misrepresent the charge for a service.

Under BPC 12024.1, a prosecutor must prove two elements to successfully convict a defendant. These are:

  1. the defendant, either by himself or through another,
  2. willfully misrepresented a charge for service that was performed on the basis of weight, time, measure, or count.8

A violation of this statute is charged as a misdemeanor.9 The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.10

4.3. False pricing – BPC 12024.2

California Business and Professions Code 12024.2 BPC makes it a crime for a party to:

  • sell a commodity at a higher price than it is advertised, marked, or displayed for; or,
  • sell a commodity at a higher amount than the lowest price posted on the commodity itself.11

A “commodity” is a basic good sold to consumers in commerce.

A violation of BPC 12024.2 is a wobblette offense under California law. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction.12

If there is a willful violation of the statute, or if the crime involves an overcharge amount greater than $1, then the offense is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year; and/ or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.13

If the offense involves an overcharge amount less than $1, then the crime is charged as an infraction. It is punishable by a maximum fine of $100.14

Were you accused of selling at a false quantity in California? Call us for help…

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Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Business and Professions Code 12024 BPC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Business and Professions Code 12024 BPC. This code section states: “Every person, who by himself or herself, or through or for another, sells any commodity in less quantity than he or she represents it to be is guilty of a misdemeanor, except as provided in Section 12024.3.”

  2. See same.

  3. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  4. California Penal Code 490 PC.

  5. See same.

  6. California Penal Code 489 PC.

  7. See same.

  8. Business and Professions Code 12024.1 BPC.

  9. See same.

  10. California Penal Code 19 PC. See also California Business and Professions Code 25617 BPC.

  11. California Business and Professions Code 12024.2 BPC.

  12. See same.

  13. See same.

  14. See same.

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