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Mar 25

District attorney warns of price gouging related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on March 25, 2020 at 6:29 pm by Clay Curtin

The Governor issued a proclamation of a state of emergency to deal with the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 on March 4, 2020. Price gouging, as defined in Penal Code section 396, is illegal after such a proclamation or declaration.

Specifically, it is a crime to sell items such as consumer food items or goods, and emergency or medical supplies, during the state of emergency or local emergency for a price that is more than 10% greater than the price charged by the seller of those goods or services immediately before the proclamation or declaration of the emergency. A violation of section 396 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe encourages anyone who observes or experiences price gouging in San Mateo County to contact the District Attorney's Office by calling 650-363-4403 or complete and return the Price Gouging Incident Report form. You can submit the form by email or mail to:

San Mateo County District Attorney's Office
Hall of Justice and Records
400 County Center, 3 Fl
Redwood City, CA 94063