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California Crime Bill Would Make Some Robberies A Misdemeanor

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A controversial bill in the state legislature would make some robberies a misdemeanor, not a felony.

Senate Bill 82, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would turn robberies under $950 that don't involve weapons or cause serious injuries into petty thefts.

The penalty would be a maximum of one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and offenders would qualify for a diversion program.

The Yuba County District Attorney's Office slammed the proposal, calling it "insanely irresponsible" and saying it would "wreak havoc in our communities by allowing this violence to occur with barely a slap on the wrist."

Robbery is currently classified as a violent offense and punishable in prison.

It is also drawing pushback from the Asian-American community in the Bay Area. Some are pointing to a recent rash in robberies and assaults on Asian seniors. They say the proposal is "tone deaf" and would lead to more attacks.

Senator Skinner is defending her bill, saying in a statement to KPIX 5, "If enacted, SB 82 will not change or reduce the criminal penalty on violent assaults such as the one that happened Tuesday or any of the other violent attacks on elder Asian residents that have occurred recently."

Skinner was referring to the robbery that killed 75-year-old Pak Ho on Tuesday in Oakland. The suspect has a criminal history, mostly robberies, dating back to 2012.

A committee hearing on the bill is set for Tuesday. 

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