DA Warns About Price Gouging Amid COVID-19 Shelter in Place

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Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Submitted photo
  • Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming.
While no cases have been reported in Humboldt County, District Attorney Maggie Fleming issued a warning today against price gouging in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak that has the state sheltering in place.

It is illegal to raise prices on needed products, such as food, medical supplies, gasoline and building materials, by more than 10 percent in the wake of an emergency. Penalties include up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine, as well as possible civil actions.

“My perception is the people and businesses of Humboldt County are doing a great job of helping each other and making extra efforts to cooperate during these challenging times,” Fleming said in the release. “I’m pleased to report we have not received any reports of price gouging.”

Residents are asked to report any possible incidents to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office at 707-441-3014 or by email at Districtattorney@co.humboldt.ca.us.

Read the full District Attorney’s Office release below:


Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming issued a consumer alert today regarding price gouging following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state of emergency proclamation.

Pursuant to this state of emergency, price gouging, as defined by Penal Code section 396, is illegal. Specifically, it is a crime to charge a price for essential goods and services more than 10% higher than the price charged immediately before an emergency declaration. The law applies to consumer food items, goods or services used for emergency cleanup, emergency supplies, medical supplies, home heating oil, building materials, housing, transportation, freight, storage services, gasoline and other motor fuels.

Price gouging carries a criminal penalty of up to one year in county jail and a $10,000 fine. Violators may also face civil enforcement actions and penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, plus mandatory restitution.

People should report any observations of price gouging to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office at 707-441-3014 or by email at Districtattorney@co.humboldt.ca.us.

“My perception is the people and businesses of Humboldt County are doing a great job of helping each other and making extra efforts to cooperate during these challenging times,” Fleming said. “I’m pleased to report we have not received any reports of price gouging.”

For current information about COVID-19, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert, or during business hours by emailing covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.

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