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District Attorney Krieg Gives Warning About Price Gouging

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg is alerting local businesses that price gouging is unlawful during this current public health emergency.

Krieg reports, “The State of California is currently under the Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 Virus. Whenever federal, state, or local authorities declare a state of emergency, it is unlawful to raise prices for essential consumer goods and services by more than 10% of the existing prices immediately prior to the declaration of emergency.”

California law defines essential consumer goods and services broadly, including but not limited to, medical supplies, emergency supplies, food, fuel, lodging, transportation, pet food, repair services, construction services, building materials and housing rental prices.

She adds, “California Penal Code section 396 makes violations of this rule punishable criminally or civilly with punishment of up to one year in the county jail and a fine of up to $10,000 or a civil penalty of up to $2,500 per violation.”

Providing further clarification, “There are two exceptions to this. One is if that if the item was on sale when the declaration was issued, the 10% rule applies to the normal price. The other is if there is an increased cost to the reseller due to extra labor or costs, or due to additional costs imposed by the supplier to the reseller, then the reseller cannot charge more than 10% more when taking into account those additional costs.”

Complaints regarding price gouging can be made to the District Attorney’s Office. The phone number is 209-588-5450.