California Penal Code 1377 PC permits judges to dismiss certain misdemeanor charges if the defendant fully reimburses the victim for their losses. These civil compromises are typically granted in shoplifting and vandalism cases.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
1377 PC When the person injured by an act constituting a misdemeanor has a remedy by a civil action, the offense may be compromised, as provided in Section 1378, except when it is committed as follows:
(a) By or upon an officer of justice, while in the execution of the duties of his or her office.
(c) With an intent to commit a felony.
(d) In violation of any court order as described in Section 273.6 or 273.65.
(e) By or upon any family or household member, or upon any person when the violation involves any person described in Section 6211 of the Family Code or subdivision (b) of Section 13700 of this code.
(f) Upon an elder, in violation of Section 368 of this code or Section 15656 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(g) Upon a child, as described in Section 647.6 or 11165.6.
California Penal Code 1377 PC codifies the legal process of civil compromise, which allows a judge to dismiss a misdemeanor charge if the defendant reimburses the victim. However, judges are not allowed to permit civil comprises if the misdemeanor was committed:
- against a child or an elder;
- by or against an on-duty police officer;
- with an intent to commit a felony; and/or
- in violation of a court order.1
Judges also cannot permit civil compromises if the misdemeanor resulted in no civil liability. And judges will only dismiss a misdemeanor charge if the victim appears before the court and acknowledge that they were fully reimbursed by the defendant.2
In practice, California misdemeanors that frequently get dismissed through civil compromise include:
- petty theft (Penal Code 484(a)),
- vandalism (Penal Code 594),
- shoplifting (Penal Code 459.5), and
- embezzlement (Penal Code 503).
- California Penal Code 1377 PC – Compromise of offense for which person injured has civil action; Exceptions. People v. Gokcek (Cal. Super. Ct., 2006), 138 Cal. App. 4th Supp. 8.
- Same. PC 1378.
- California vs Dimacali (. , 2019)