Jury rejects idea that theft of socks should be a felony
San Francisco—A woman was acquitted of felony robbery charges on Wednesday for taking a pair of socks from a shop in Fisherman’s Wharf this summer, Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Raymoan Shaw, 30, admitted to the lesser charge of misdemeanor petty theft, but had she been found guilty of felony robbery, Ms. Shaw would have faced a first “strike” and six years in prison, Deputy Public Defender Elizabeth Camacho said.
The jury found that Ms. Shaw used “no force or fear” when she pocketed a pair of anklet socks, making the more serious charge of robbery unfounded. The prosecution also provided no surveillance video of Ms. Shaw in the store to back up its case that her actions warranted a felony charge.
“This was a simple petty theft case of a homeless woman who wanted the dignity of having a clean pair of socks,” said Camacho. “The overcharging involved with hitting her with a major felony and possibly years in prison was an assault on fairness.”
The evidence showed that as Ms. Shaw exited the store with the socks, the store manager followed her and filmed her on her phone. Ms. Shaw, who is transgender, testified that she did not know that the woman following her worked at the shop and she assumed it was someone harassing her for her gender identity. Fearing she was being taunted, Ms. Shaw knocked the phone out of the manager’s hand. The manager testified that she agreed that Ms. Shaw knocked the phone from her hand not because she was trying to get away with stealing the pair of socks, but because she did not want to be photographed.
The police soon arrived and body-worn police cameras revealed to the jury images of the officers detaining Ms. Shaw, hog-tying her, and arresting her.
The jury ultimately found Ms. Shaw guilty of misdemeanor resisting arrest and battery on a police officer for scratching one of them, Camacho said.
“Ms. Shaw had to face the indignity of being surrounded by six police officers and then arrested, all for taking a pair of socks,” said Adachi. “Then she was slapped with a bogus felony charge that could have dramatically impacted her life. Thankfully, the jury viewed the facts fairly and she was acquitted of that charge.”
But her suffering still has not ended, said Adachi. “She is still in jail, and should be released.”