Selling Short Quantity: Business & Professions Code Section 12024 BPC
Consumers in California have strong legal protection from both fraudulent and deceptive business practices whether they shop at a store or purchase an item from an individual due to the efforts of the state legislature.
The California Business and Professions Code Section 12024 BPC makes it illegal to sell any good or commodity in a smaller unit than what is represented to be for sale. The rules does not solely apply to businesses. Individuals can be charged with this misdemeanor offense as well if they are found guilty of violating the state statue.
In order to convict a business or individual of selling an item or commodity in what is known as a short quantity, prosecuting attorneys have to prove the following in order to get a guilty verdict: That the person accused of the short sell did by himself or herself or through for another, sold an item or commodity in less quantity than was represented.
Here is an example of a short sell: An individual who owns a sandwich shop also sells a variety of meats per pound to his customers. In order to make more money when he sells the meat, the man adjusts the weight of the scale he uses to weigh the meat so that it registers an additional three ounces more than what the meat actually weighs. The advantage to the sandwich shop owner is he is making a greater profit on each order of meat he sells.
One day, a California Department of Weights and Measures inspector visits the shop and uncovers the scale that had been adjusted. The sandwich shop owner could face charges that he violated California Business and Professions Code Section 12024 BPC for selling a short quantity. He could also face misdemeanor charges if the act was willful or if the monetary value of the short sale was greater than $2.
Or here is another example of selling short: A busy doughnut shop owner is short-staffed one day and is busy filling orders by herself. Because she is so busy, she inadvertently gives several customers 11 donuts instead of 12. In this case, the shop owner would not be guilty of a misdemeanor violation because she did not cause the shortage on purpose and its monetary value was not greater than $2. She could, though, be cited for violating Business and Professions Code Section 12024 as an infraction.
In order to be found guilty of violating the statute, the individual being charged actions must be both willful and intentional. If the shortage occurred as the result of an accident or negligence and if the monetary value of the shortage was less than $2, only an infraction would result. Charges can also be levied if shortages of prepackaged items or goods offered for sale are determined based on the average discrepancy in each individual lot, which is determined from a sample of packages that are selected from all lots that have found to be in violation of Business and Professions Code Section 12024 and exceed $10.
Those who are found guilty of violating Business and Professions Code Section 12024 face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. An infraction carries with it a fine of $100.
There are other California state statutes that are similar to to 12024 BPC. They include a misrepresentation of charge for a service; inaccurate pricing; and petty theft.
Those charged with a violation of Business and Professions Code Section 12024 can find not only the reputation of their business tarnished in jeopardy, but themselves facing both fines and a jail sentence.