Business and Professions Code 12024.2 BP (False Pricing)

Business and Professions Code 12024.2 BP is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to take part in faulty or false pricing of a commodity.

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 12024.2 include:

  • A mini-mart owner charges a customer $5.25 for a bag of chips, even though a shelf tag says the bag costs $2.99.
  • Although a fruit stand advertises that it has a sale on oranges (at 0.99¢ per pound), it actually charges customers $1.25 per pound.
  • A landscape supply company quotes a customer a rate of $200 for a load of gravel, however it secretly charges the customer $225 for the same.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person or entity can raise if accused of false pricing. These include showing that an accused party:

  • charged the correct amount for a commodity;
  • made a mistake; and/or,
  • was arrested after a coerced confession.

Penalties

A violation of BPC 12024.2 is a wobblette offense, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor (as opposed to a California felony), or an infraction. The facts of a case will dictate how the offense gets charged.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by:

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

If charged as an infraction, the offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $100.

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

market stand prices
California Business and Professions Code 12024.2 BPC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to take part in faulty or false pricing of a commodity.

1. The legal definition of false pricing

California Business and Professions Code 12024.2 BPC is the California statute that applies to false pricing.

The code section says that it is a crime for a person to either:

  1. charge an amount for a commodity that is greater than the amount advertised, posted, marked, or quoted for that commodity; or,
  2. charge an amount for a commodity that is greater than the price posted on the commodity itself or on a shelf tag.1

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

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

2. Legal Defenses

A person accused of false pricing 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 a criminal defense attorney to get the most effective defense.

Three common defenses to BPC 12024.2 accusations are:

  1. charged correct amount;
  2. mistake; and/or,
  3. coerced confession.

2.1. Charged correct amount

Some disputes on commodity charges often take place after a person buys the commodity. If a customer complains of a price after a transaction, it is always a defense for the seller to show that he charged the correct amount for the item. The “correct” amount can be shown by reference to an advertisement, price tag, or shelf tag.

2.2. Mistake

A seller can always use as a legal defense that he charged a greater amount for a commodity because of a mistake. Mistakes regarding commodity charges can happen via:

  • entering the wrong code for an item,
  • receiving false information as to a commodity's price, or
  • forgetting about a sales price for a commodity or a special price listed in an advertisement.

2.3. Coerced confession

This defense applies to the situation where a defendant was charged under BPC 12024.2 following a confession.

California law states that police may not use overbearing measures to coerce a confession.

If a party can show that the police coerced him into a confession, then:

  1. the judge may exclude the confession from evidence; or,
  2. the case could get dropped altogether if the party got pressured into confessing to a crime he didn't commit.
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 12024.2 is referred to as a wobblette offense under California law. This means that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction depending on the specific facts of a case.

If there is a willful violation of the statute, or if the crime involves an overcharge amount of 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 $1,000.2

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.

If a violation of Business and Professions Code 12024.2 involves an overcharge amount of less than $1, then the crime is charged as an infraction. It is punishable by a maximum fine of $100.3

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to false pricing. These are:

  1. theft by trick or device;
  2. selling false quantity – BPC 12024; and,
  3. misrepresentation of charges – BPC 12024.1.

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. Selling false quantity – BPC 12024

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

A prosecutor must prove three elements in order to successfully convict a defendant under BPC 12024. 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.8

As stated above in section 1., a “commodity” is a basic good sold to customers in commerce.

A violation of BPC 12024 is charged as a misdemeanor.9 The crime is punishable by:

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

4.3. Misrepresentation of charges – BPC 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.11

A violation of this statute is charged as a misdemeanor.12 The crime is punishable by:

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

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

california legal defense
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 12024.2 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 Code 12024.2(a) BPC. This code section states: “It is unlawful for any person, at the time of sale of a commodity, to do any of the following:

    (1) Charge an amount greater than the price, or to compute an amount greater than a true extension of a price per unit, that is then advertised, posted, marked, displayed, or quoted for that commodity.

    (2) Charge an amount greater than the lowest price posted on the commodity itself or on a shelf tag that corresponds to the commodity, notwithstanding any limitation of the time period for which the posted price is in effect.”

  2. California Business and Professions Code 12024.2(b) BPC.

  3. California Business and Professions code 12024.2(c) BPC.

  4. California Penal Code 490 PC.

  5. See same.

  6. California Penal Code 489 PC.

  7. See same.

  8. California Business and Professions Code 12024 BPC.

  9. See same.

  10. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  11. Business and Professions Code 12024.1 BPC.

  12. See same.

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

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