Looters’ “needs” will be taken into account before criminal charges are delivered by prosecutors, a California district attorney mandated, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
Contra Costa District Attorney Diane Becton mandated the policy that will make it more difficult to prosecute looting cases in the county located near San Francisco, California, the Post reported.
The policy asks “was this theft offense substantially motivated by the state of emergency, or simply a theft offense which occurred contemporaneous to the declared state of emergency?” East County Today reported Tuesday.
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) September 2, 2020
The new policy requires investigators to consider five factors including whether the business was open, how the suspect entered the business, what the stolen goods were worth, if the theft was committed for personal or financial gain and whether another statute wouldn’t address the incident, according to the East County Today.
Antioch, California Mayor Sean Wright, and Police Officers Association President Steve Aiello criticized Becton’s mandate, the Post reported.
“When I read the policy, it was disturbing,” Wright said, the East County Today reported. “I understand the difference between protesting and looting. Peaceful protesting is okay, looting is not.”
“For the District Attorney to put out that kind of plan is irresponsible and where do you exactly draw the line on need because these are people’s businesses that are being impacted and livelihoods that are being destroyed,” Wright added, the East County Today reported.
Aiello said the mandate will affect “community, local business and business owners,” the Post reported. (RELATED: On The Frontline: A California National Guard Member’s Experience During The LA Protests)
“It shows the District Attorney’s Office is picking and choosing the types of crimes it will prosecute versus just following the laws on the books,” Aiello said, the Post reported. “At what point does our District Attorney’s Office advocate for the victims. If it’s not the District Attorney’s Office, who then becomes the advocate and safety net for the victims and ensuring restitution is made.”
The mandate was instituted because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to DA spokesman Scott Alonso, the Post reported.
“As you know, when evaluating any criminal case our prosecutors look at the circumstances surrounding the incident,” Alonso said, the East County Today reported. “These guidelines are consistent with how we evaluate criminal cases. The policy does not say we won’t file these types of cases.”
Convicted looters face a year-long jail sentence, the Post reported.
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