Vaping in California

Vaping in California

Over the past ten or fifteen years, vaping has become extremely popular. There are several reasons for this, including the idea that vaping is cleaner, cheaper, and might be a little safer than smoking. The fact that you can get vapes in interesting flavors that simply aren’t possible with traditional cigarettes is another reason so many people have started vaping.

As vaping grows more popular in California, the state feels increasing pressure to create vaping laws. These laws are very similar to California’s smoking laws because there is a great deal of concern about the potential health risks.

While some of these vaping laws impart consumers, most are designed to crack down on the sale of e-cigs. In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown approved of legislation that required e-cigs and other vaping products to be taxed the same way tobacco products are taxed. This also meant the state was able to place more restrictions on marketing efforts and the e-cig manufacturers.

Additional taxes aren’t the only things business owners who sell vaping supplies have to worry about in California. The state has also set things up so that any business that markets e-cig and other vaping supplies has to be properly registered, which includes safety inspections. The registration fee must be paid every single year if the business wishes to continue selling e-cigs.

At this point, if you’re not 21 or older, you can’t purchase e-cigs are anything connected to vaping. The hope is that by raising the minimum age, fewer people will start vaping.

The places you’re allowed to vape are also restricted. Vapers are expected to follow the same rules as smokers. You aren’t allowed to smoke in/near government buildings, including schools. Additional places where you’re not allowed to vape include commercial warehouses, hotel lobbies, and stores. If you’re self-employed but routinely have clients in your office/home/workspace, you’re not allowed to vape there.

Getting caught vaping in an area where it’s prohibited will cost you. The fine for a first violation is $200. The next time you’re caught vaping or smoking where it’s prohibited is a $500 fine. Each time after that, you’ll be hit with a $1,000 and potentially face a Cal-OSHA fine of up to $7,000.

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Failing to Pay Child Support in California

Failing to Pay Child Support in California

Child support is always a touchy subject. Often a person’s actual financial situation isn’t taken into consideration when the amount of child support is set. There is also the constant complaint that the child support isn’t going to the child, but rather being used for other purposes. The arguments over child support are often intense and in the end, the parties on either side are unhappy with the result.

It doesn’t matter how unhappy you are about having to pay child support, it’s something you want to stay on top of because failing to do so can result in numerous legal headaches.

It doesn’t matter what you might have on your plate, paying your court-ordered child support should be your first priority. Failing to make the payments on time and in full doesn’t just ruin your credit report, it’s breaking the law. No matter what type of financial hardships you encounter, you need to stay on top of those payments. As soon as you realize that you’re going to have a problem, contact the court so something else can be arranged, but don’t miss a payment while you wait for your hearing with the family judge.

Failing to pay your child support in California has severe legal consequences. In most cases, the state decides to suspend your driver’s license until the payments are caught up. This means that you can’t legally drive. If you’re caught driving without a valid license, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor, get hit with more fines, and potentially be arrested. The state could also create a levy on your bank account, meaning that they will simply withdraw the amount of the outstanding child support payments. They could also cancel your passport.

In extreme cases, people who fail to pay child support in California are arrested. This usually happens when there is a long history of missed child support payments. Failure to pay child support can result in a one-year jail sentence and a $2,000 fine. 

Considering the severe consequences of being late with a child support payment, it’s in your best interest to notify the court as soon as you realize you’re in a financial bind. 

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California’s Minor in Possession Law

California’s Minor in Possession Law

Teenagers like to do things that they feel make them more adult-like. They also like to experiment with things that make them feel wild and free. This combination prompts many minors to consume alcohol long before they reach their twenty-first birthday. Like most states, California has strict minor in possession laws that deal with the issue of minors and alcohol.

Legally, no one in California is allowed to drink alcohol until they are at least 21 years old. It’s a zero-tolerance policy. Not only are minors not allowed to drink alcohol, but they also aren’t allowed to be handling it. That means if the cops show up to a party anyone who has alcohol in their hands can be charged as a minor in possession. Many minors have also learned that consuming even just a few sips of beer at a party means they can be charged with minor in possession.

The good news about California’s minor in possession laws is that anyone who is convicted doesn’t have to worry about being sent to jail, provided that this is the only charge they’re dealing with. The sentence for a minor in possession charge is limited to community service and/or a fine.

The bad news is that a minor in possession charge is a misdemeanor which means that the conviction does become a permanent part of the individual’s record and could impact the rest of their life. The permanency of the record is why so many teens, especially those who are between the ages of 18 and 21 work hard to get the charges dropped.

The other bad thing about a minor in possession charge is that it will also impact your ability to drive. It doesn’t matter if you were in a car or not when you were arrested, that single MIP charge is enough to get your license suspended for a full year. This could negatively impact your ability to get a job or commute to school.

Even if you’re not yet old enough to drive at the time of your MIP arrest, the conviction will still impact your driving ability. Once you are old enough to drive, the California DMV will block your ability to obtain your license for a full year.

When all is said and done, it’s best to ignore any alcohol that’s served at parties until you’ve turned 21. If you are at a party and there’s alcohol, keep your hands away from the bottles/cans/cups and leave as soon as possible.

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Writing Bad Checks in California

Writing Bad Checks in California

We’ve all had a situation where we didn’t have as much money in our accounts as we thought we did. This can result in a bounced check. As soon as we find out about our mistake we contact the people/business and banks involved in the issue and try to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. Resolving the matter not only usually means covering the original cost with a good check, but also paying some substantial bank overdraft fees.

That situation is completely different from cases that involve writing bad checks. What sets writing an accidental bad check apart from writing a bad check which results in you facing criminal charges is your knowledge about the amount of money you had in the bank at the time you were writing the check. 

Making a mistake about the amount of money you have in your account is not a crime in California. Writing a check when you know you don’t have enough money to cover it is a criminal act and will likely be prosecuted.

Cases involving bad checks have changed during the past twenty years. They have actually become harder to defend. In the past, it was believable that a person might think that they had 200 dollars in their checking account when there was only $100 available. Often this happened when they had forgotten about another check they’d written or when a deposit hadn’t yet cleared. These days, banks have mobile apps that allow clients to check exactly how much money is in the checking account at any time of the day. The ability to instantly check the amount of funds available makes it harder to claim ignorance.

Writing bad checks is a wobbler offense. Whether the matter is treated as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the size of the check you wrote. If the amount is more than $950, the case becomes a felony. 

A misdemeanor conviction for writing bad checks in California carries a maximum sentence of a year in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The maximum sentence for the felony conviction of this crime is three years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. It isn’t unusual for community service and probation to be part of the sentence in these types of cases.

Criminal charges for writing bad checks might be only part of your legal headaches. In these situations, the defendant will often file charges in civil court where they can not only seek restitution for the entire amount of the bad check as well as an additional $1,500.

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Brake Checking in California

Brake Checking in California

“Brake check” is a term that refers to the act of someone slamming hard on their brakes while they’re driving in front of another driver, forcing the other driver to either slam on their own brakes or swerve out of the way. It’s often done because the driver of the lead vehicle feels the second car is following too closely, or tailgating, them. The hope is that slamming on the brakes will convince the other driver to back off. It’s important to understand that this isn’t just a light tap of the brakes. During a brake check, the driver exerts enough pressure on the brake pedal to quickly and significantly slow their vehicle. They usually hit the gas pedal equally hard and speed off.

The interesting thing about brake checks is that both the brake checking and the tailgating are considered to be examples of aggressive or reckless driving. In this particular incident, both drivers can be issued a ticket. Both actions can lead to a serious accident.

There are a couple of different reasons people tailgate. The first is because the driver is impatient and hopes that they can encourage the other driver to go faster. In this scenario, the tailgating is a form of road rage and aggressive driving. The second most common reason for tailgating is because the driver isn’t paying attention or doesn’t realize just how close they’re getting to the other car’s back bumper. In this instance, the tailgating is a perfect example of distracted or careless driving.

If a police officer observes you doing a brake check, they can nail you for reckless driving. Don’t assume that it will merely be a ticket and a fine. Depending on the circumstances, your brake check could result in you gaining a criminal record, possibly losing your driver’s license, and even ending up in a jail cell.

California’s current reckless driving laws are designed in a way that your brake check could result in your getting fined $145-$1,000 as well as being issued a misdemeanor charge. If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to 5-90 days in jail. Two points will be added to your driving record. And that’s just for your first act of reckless driving.

If your brake check results in someone getting hurt or killed, the penalties are more severe and could include the suspension of your driver’s license. It’s also likely that the injured party will file a civil case against you.

The next time you get tired of being tailgated, take a deep breath and keep your foot off the brake pedal. Remind yourself that it’s far better to be irritated than to do something that could cost you both your freedom and your means of transportation.

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Brass Knuckle Possession in California

Brass Knuckle Possession in California

Brass knuckles are designed to be worn over your hand/fingers. While some people claim to wear brass knuckles for decorative purposes, the real reason brass knuckle are worn is to increase the force of a punch. In addition to maximizing the wearer’s punch force, the brass knuckles also help protect their hands from sustaining injuries during a fight.

It’s believed brass knuckles first became commonplace during ancient Rome when gladiators wore a type of glove called a caestus which gave them an edge on their competition. Since those early days, brass knuckles have evolved. 

California lawmakers aren’t fond of brass knuckles. Penal Code 21810 not only prohibits you from using brass knuckles during a fight but also makes it illegal for you to even own a pair single pair of brass knuckles.

When you read through the law, you’ll discover that you’re strictly prohibited from having anything to do with brass knuckles. You’re not allowed to make brass knuckles, give brass knuckles to another person, sell them, import them, or be in possession of them. 

It’s important to note that you can be in trouble just for grabbing an item and turning it into a makeshift pair of brass knuckles as you prepare for a fight.

Obviously, if you’re caught with brass knuckles, you’re going to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. While the issue seems cut and dry, there are some legal defenses you can use in cases involving brass knuckles, especially when the case merely involves the possession of brass knuckles.

If you haven’t used the brass knuckles and are simply facing a charge of having them in your possession, potential defenses include:

• That the device wasn’t actually brass knuckles, but actually fulfilled a different purpose
• That there wasn’t probable cause for the search the revealed the brass knuckles
• That you’re free from prosecution

 
In cases involving brass knuckles, free from prosecution indicates a person who has a strong connection to law enforcement who has a legit reason for having/selling/transporting brass knuckles. A majority of the time, charges are never brought against a person who is free from prosecution.

One of the interesting things about cases involving brass knuckles in California is that they are wobbler cases. The prosecutor looks at the details surrounding the case and decides whether to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

If convicted of misdemeanor brass knuckle possession, the maximum sentence is a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in a county jail.

The maximum sentence connected to a felony brass knuckle possession case in California is three years of imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.

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Do I Have to Report a California Traffic Accident?

Do I Have to Report a California Traffic Accident?

Most of us have a weird, knee-jerk reaction to traffic accidents. We like to pretend we don’t know about them and try to put as much distance between ourselves and the traffic accident as we possibly can. This is our reaction whether we’re involved in the accident or if we’ve simply witnessed one.

When a traffic accident occurs, many of us wonder if we actually have to report it to the police.

If you’re driving any of the vehicles involved in a car accident, you are legally required to report the accident to the police. Technically, you have 24 hours to complete a written report about the incident. All things considered, it’s in your best interest to report the accident as soon as it happens. There are several reasons for this:

• The responding officer will handle writing the written report for you
• Filing the insurance claim will be easier
• The events leading up to the cause of the accident is fresh in everyone’s mins
• You won’t have to worry about being labeled a hit and run driver

 
In addition to letting the police know about the accident, you need to let your car insurance company know about the accident as quickly as possible. Not only will this put you in a position to receive your claim money as quickly as possible, but if an investigation is needed, they will be able to talk to everyone involved while the details of the accident remain fresh in everyone’s mind.

But what if you merely witnessed a car accident but weren’t directly involved with it?

This is a little bit trickier. Technically, you should stop. It’s in your best interest to make sure that everyone who was involved in the accident doesn’t need any type of medical attention and you should also plan on serving as a witness to the incident. 

While morally and ethically you should stop after witnessing an accident, in California, you’re not legally required to do anything. You can keep driving. That being said. If additional information is needed about the accident or if the police discover that your actions impacted the accident it’s possible that they will figure out a way to locate you (they can use traffic cams to get your license plate) and will eventually contact you.

How do you respond when you are either involved with or witness a California car accident?

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Stay Safe Going into the New Year

Stay Safe Going into the New Year

Going out on the town and painting it red on New Year’s Eve always seems like a great way to ring in the New Year. Celebrating at bars, restaurants, clubs, and community events is a lot of fun and a great way to create some spectacular memories, but it can also be dangerous. The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself while making the holiday a memorable experience.

Pick a Group of Trusted Friends

There is safety in numbers which is why you should plan on going out with a group of people who are just as excited about going out as you are and who you trust. Before hitting the town, decide on things like who is driving (or if you’re getting a rideshare car or cab home.) Agree that no matter what happens, everyone leaves each location with the others, that no one leaves anyone behind, and have a form of communication ready to go if someone does get separated from the group.

Limit Your Drinking

Yes, you want to have a good time, but don’t drink so much alcohol that you get into a fight with your friends, or your normally good judgment wavers. Know what your limit is and pace yourself accordingly. If you do imbibe in too much alcohol, make sure at least one member of your friend group is sober enough to watch out for you.

No matter what you’re drinking, never leave your drink unattended. If you do have to leave your drink, order a new one when you return to the table. Never drink from a glass that you’ve lost track of, no matter how temporarily.

Stick to Areas You’re Familiar With

New Year’s Eve isn’t really the night that you want to explore new locations. If you do want to go to a New Year’s Eve party that’s in a part of town you’re unfamiliar with, visit that area in the weeks leading up to the party. That gives you a chance to find the safest parking spaces, bus stations, cab stops, and walking routes.

Leave Your Valuables at Home

New Year’s Eve is not the time to be waving around a lot of cash or to show off the nice new jewelry you got for Christmas. Those things make you attractive to thieves and pick-pockets. Limit the amount of cash you have on you and keep your nicer items at home. 

Practice Self-Situational Awareness

Self-situational awareness is a great way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim this New Year’s Eve. The entire time you are out, be hypervigilant about your surroundings and the people in them. Pay extra attention to anyone who is taking an extreme interest in you or who seems to appear everywhere you do. 

Stay safe and have a wonderful time ringing in 2022.

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Staying Safe While Online Dating

Staying Safe While Online Dating

It doesn’t look like online dating is going anywhere. 

This is often the time of year when people start to think about online dating. Some do this because they think the start of a new year is the perfect time to start a new relationship. Others because they realize that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Others decide that it’s a great time to create a new online dating profile because they hated being single during the holidays.

Whether you’re an online dating veteran or you’re just dipping your toe into the world of online dating, it’s always a good time to review safe online dating practices.

The first thing to remember is that you don’t really have any idea about who you’re talking to. Online dating is a great way to meet people, but it’s also a format that attracts a lot of predators. Choose a dating site that is upfront about its policy for keeping everyone involved safe.

If you make a match, take some time to get to know the person online before you arrange an in-person meeting. Whenever possible try to keep the conversation going through whatever means the online dating site has provided. This makes it easier to report any abuse or suspicious behavior.

Do not meet in a private or secluded area. Arrange to meet in a public place. Before going on your first date, let people know where you are going, who you are going with, and arrange for a time that you’ll check in with them and let them know that you’re okay. 

Do not tell the person you’ve connected with online where you live. Make sure you eliminate any geographically identifiable items (such as your house) from the pictures you post on your profile.

If you start to feel at all uncomfortable with the other person, be it while you’re chatting on the dating site or while you’re on a real-time date with your online match, sever the connection and move on. Your safety and mental health are far more important than the few minutes of embarrassment you’ll feel while dashing away from the date.

Do not invite your online love connection to your home until you’re one hundred percent positive that they’re a good person and someone you can trust. If you have any reservations at all, keep the dates to public places. The same is true about getting into a car with them. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving or they’re driving, always travel in separate vehicles until you are confident about who you are with.

The most important thing to remember when you’re dating online is to trust your instincts. You really do know best so if something feels a little funny or unsafe it’s in your best interest to block that person and search for the next promising candidate.

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Different Types of Domestic Violence in California

Different Types of Domestic Violence in California

Most of us are familiar with the concept of domestic violence. What many of us don’t realize is that California has different types of domestic violence charges.

In California, there is both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence. The exact circumstances surrounding the domestic violence incident determine which of those charges you face.

California’s definition of domestic violence is very clear. The state defines domestic violence as: “abuse or threats of abuse when the person abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship.” The law is also extended in such a way to include victims who are related to their abuser.

California laws make it possible for domestic violence to occur via:

• Sexual assault
• Intentionally harming someone 
• Making statements or sending threatening messages 
• Deliberately disrupting or disturbing the victim’s peace
• Deliberately destroying the victim’s personal property 

 
When the prosecutor is trying to decide if a specific case represents felony or misdemeanor domestic violence there are a few factors they consider. These factors include:

• The circumstances surrounding the incident
• How serious the victim’s injuries were
• Criminal history

 
It’s also possible that witness statements and medical records will play a role in determining how the charges will be handled.

In misdemeanor cases, a guilty verdict can result in a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail as well as possible fines. In felony domestic abuse cases the sentence can be 2,3, or 4 years in a state prison, mandatory counseling, a fine that could be as high as $6,000.

Felony domestic violence is a crime that often has sentencing enhancement added. The circumstances surrounding the case will often determine if the enhancements are added. If the newly convicted person already had a record that includes previous domestic violence convictions that occurred within the last seven years an additional $10,000 in fines as well as 2,4, or 5 years can be attached to the sentence. 

If the domestic violence incident that’s currently on the table involved a great bodily injury, the judge has the option of using a sentence enhancement that adds 3, 4, or 5 years to the sentence.

A single domestic violence charge can have a massive negative impact on your life. It can cause loved ones to turn their back on you, hurt your chances of securing houses, and make it significantly more difficult to find a romantic partner. The best way to prevent a domestic violence conviction from ruining your life is thinking before you act and removing yourself from the situation when you feel that you’re losing your temper.

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