保守的网站和评论员在 2020 年夏天泄露了内部检控指引。
在内部准则中，加利福尼亚州 Ctra Costa 地区检察官 Diana Becton 表示，抢劫是可以接受的，如果嫌疑人 “需要” 被盗物品，则不会被起诉。
In August and September 2020, readers asked Snopes to examine the accuracy of online articles that claimed a California prosecutor had indicated looting was acceptable in cases where the individual involved “needs” the items stolen.
On Aug. 30, 2020, the Organic Prepper website published an article with the headline “These People Want to Convince Everyone That Looting is A-Okay.” The article contained a section with the heading “Looting is Okay if They ‘Need’ the Item,” claiming that:
According to a document obtained by Red State News, Diana Becton, the district attorney of Contra Costa County, California, has changed up how looters are charged during a state of emergency.
“Theft Offenses Committed During State of Emergency (PC 463)
In order to promote consistent and equitable filing practices the follow[ing] analysis is to be applied when giving consideration to filing of PC 463 (Looting):
1. 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?
a. Factors to consider in making this determination:
i. Was the target business open or closed to the public during the state of emergency?
ii. What was the manner and means by which the suspect gained entry to the business?
iii. What was the nature/quantity/value of the goods targeted?
iv. Was the theft committed for financial gain or personal need?
v. Is there an articulable reason why another statute wouldn’t adequately address the particular incident?”
Oh. Well. If you need those shoes and purses, then it’s totally different…
On Aug. 31, 2020, conservative talk show host Ben Ferguson posted a Facebook meme composed of a screenshot of Red State’s headline (“Soros DA Diana Becton Requires Officers Consider Whether a Looter ‘Needed’ Stolen Goods Before Charging”), along with his own summary of Becton’s position: “So now it’s okay to loot as long as you ‘need’ it?! … This is sick!”
Prosecutors routinely exercise broad discretion in deciding whether to charge individuals suspected of having committed crimes, and how to charge individuals who may have committed several criminal offenses in one action. The factors that influence those decisions are complex and manifold, but prosecutors often weigh the strength of the evidence available, the resources available to them to take upgraded offenses to trial, as well as less tangible considerations, such as political or public pressure, or the broader “interest of justice.”
Due to the existence of that discretion in the decision of whether to upgrade theft or burglary charges to looting, it makes sense for a prosecuting agency to attempt to mitigate against any inconsistencies or biases in the decision-making process. Hence the guidelines issued in June.
In an emailed statement, Becton’s spokesperson told Snopes:
“We evaluate all possible factors in reviewing whether or not to file criminal charges. We always have an ethical responsibility to ensure when filing a case we can meet the high burden of proving the case to a jury and prove the facts underlining the alleged criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The factors outlined in the policy are similar for our review of [other] criminal offenses — examining the intent and reasons why a crime was committed along with all the other available evidence.”
The function of Becton’s document was to provide her prosecutors with black-and-white guidelines in order to help them decide whether to charge an arrested person with looting, or charge them with the underlying burglary or theft offenses. It was simply not the case that the document required or even advised prosecutors not to go ahead with a looting charge if the suspect was found to have been motivated by “personal need.”
It was also not the case that suspects would go free entirely if a prosecutor decided not to charge an individual with looting, after considering the five factors set out in the guidelines. In that scenario, the individual would still be charged with the underlying offense of burglary or theft, just not the upgraded charge of looting.
Thus the Daily Wire erred in claiming that Becton’s guidelines required law enforcement “to consider if looters needed their loot before the police charged them with a crime.” Similarly, the blog USSA News falsely claimed that Becton had “openly admitted that she’s going to look the other way at looting in her jurisdiction as long as the people involved can prove they needed the Louis Vuitton purse and weren’t stealing it for personal gain.”