California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a consumer alert Monday following Gov. Jerry Brown's declaration of a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba Counties due to widespread fires.
Becerra reminds all California residents that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal under Penal Code Section 396. Price gouging refers to sellers trying to take advantage of consumers during an emergency by greatly increasing the prices of items.
Violations of price gouging can result criminal prosecution and one year of jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violations are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution.
Individuals and businesses alike must comply with the law.