Non-Violent Crimes in California

Non-Violent Crimes in California

When the average person thinks about criminals, they assume that the jails are full of violent people. It’s easy to think that these people should be off the street. 

The truth is that a vast majority of the people who make their way through California’s legal system and land in jails and prisons are actually accused of and convicted of non-violent crimes. 

Examples of non-violent crimes in California include:

• Many drug charges 
• Embezzlement
• Larceny
• Theft 
• Vandalism
• Failure to pay child support
• Tax evasion
• Perjury
• Public Intoxication

 
The bulk of California’s non-violent crimes are actually drug and alcohol-related. Examples of these include public intoxication, drug possession, and driving with an open container. 

The second most common types of non-violent crimes in California involve things like property damage and theft. 

The high number of non-violent crimes California deals with each year is why there are so many different types of prisons in the state. There simply isn’t any reason to have someone who was convicted of embezzlement but who has never shown any violent tendencies to be sharing a cell with someone who has been charged with multiple felony assaults. Not only would this pose some serious security concerns, but it would also potentially open the state up to lawsuits if the embezzler was hurt.

Minimum security prisons are a good choice for non-violent individuals who have been convicted of felonies and sentenced to prison time.

It is important to understand that there are serious consequences associated with non-violent crimes. In many situations, the time spent in jail and any fees attached to the sentencing are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Many people who have been convicted of a serious non-violent crime in California have found that their criminal history made it difficult to enjoy what others consider basic rights. Examples of this include:

• Loss of gun ownership rights
• The inability to obtain professional licenses
• Difficulty in finding employment and even being banned from certain industries/job opportunities
• Educational challenges and limitations
• Difficulties finding housing
• Financial limitations

 
The good news is that not all hope is lost for individuals who have been convicted of felony non-violent crimes. Many people believe that the non-violent nature of these individuals makes them ideal candidates for recovery and rehabilitation programs. The hope is that by showing them how bad choices led to their current situation, they can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

One of the mistakes that some people make is thinking that because they have been charged with a non-violent crime that their situation isn’t serious. It really is. As soon as you realize you’re going to be arrested, it’s important to start looking at all of your legal options so you can start putting together a plan that will minimize the damage the charges could potentially do to your future.

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What is Resisting Arrest

Resisting Arrest in California

No one wants to be arrested. For many, resisting arrest is almost a knee-jerk reaction. The problem with the reaction is that it can make any legal issues you’re already dealing with much worse. 

California’s Penal Code 148 PC deals with the issue of resisting arrest. When you read through the penal code you’ll discover that simply running or throwing a temper tantrum when an officer is trying to arrest you isn’t the only way you can be charged with resisting arrest. If you do anything that is a blatant attempt to delay or obstruct the arrest process you will face resisting arrest charges in California. You can also be charged with resisting arrest if you interfere with a peace officer or an emergency medical tech.

There aren’t many valid defenses against a resisting arrest in California charge. Some that have been successfully used include:

• The resistance wasn’t willful
• The resistance charges were false accusations
• That there wasn’t probable cause for the arrest

 
The good news is that resisting arrest in California is only a misdemeanor charge, not a felony. 

If you’re convicted, the judge could order you to serve a year-long sentence in a county jail. They can also require that you pay a $1,000 fine. Most judges consider all the circumstances surrounding the case as well as your criminal history before deciding if they should lighten the sentence. It’s not unusual for a judge to decide that probation should be used instead of actual jail time.

When all is said and done, it’s usually in your best interest to stay calm, cool, and collected while you’re being arrested.

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Who Can Own a Gun in California?

Who Can Own a Gun in California?

It’s no secret that the U.S. Constitution contains a statement about the right to bear arms. When the Constitution was originally drafted, men were allowed to own a gun, but over time that has changed. For various reasons, laws and attitudes have shifted, and now some people simply aren’t allowed to own a firearm.

If you live in California and plan on purchasing a gun, you should know that California has some of the toughest gun laws in the United States. It’s worth noting that California’s most restrictive gun laws are constantly being challenged in Federal court and are subject to change so it’s in your best interest to routinely check the state’s current gun laws.

One of California’s gun laws is that to purchase a handgun, you must be at least 21 years old. Be prepared to provide proof of both your identity and your age when you purchase the handgun. If the identification is outdated or the person selling the gun feels it doesn’t look legit, they will stop the sale.

You also must earn your Handgun Safety Certificate. The written portion of this exam is designed to prove that you have a solid understanding of handguns and that you won’t misuse them. The test questions are designed to test how well you understand how to handle your gun, how it operates, and to make sure you’ll use the gun responsibly.

Not every person who lives in California is allowed to own a gun. Several people are explicitly forbidden from owning guns, including:

• Anyone who is currently involved in a probation program that prohibits gun ownership
• Anyone named in either a permanent or a temporary restraining order
• Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military
• Anyone who is a registered sex offender
• Anyone with a diagnosed mental illness that the court believes indicates that they could be a danger to others and themselves
• Anyone who is currently addicted to drugs
• Anyone with a history of violent crimes
• Anyone with a past that includes a felony conviction
• Illegal residents
• Anyone who has been convicted of a type of misdemeanor named in Penal Code section 29805
• Sex offenders who have been diagnosed with mental disorders

 
If you are convicted of a violent crime or do something else that causes the state to revoke your privileges regarding gun ownership, you’ll have to get rid of any guns you currently own. The police are legally allowed to confiscate any weapons they find after your ownership rights have been revoked.

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Leaving Pets in Hot Cars in California

Leaving Pets in Hot Cars in California

Dogs love their owners and want to be with them all the time. In an attempt to keep our dogs happy, many of us take them with us when we run errands. On cold days, this isn’t an issue, but now that we’re on the cusp of summer, it will be a while before Californians experience cool days which means it’s time to rethink taking your dog along on your grocery store runs.

California lawmakers passed laws that make it illegal to leave your car in your vehicle at any time that there is a chance that they will be hurt before you get back. This includes when the temperatures soar to a point that your vehicle turns into an oven.

This means that even when the outdoor temperature is cool, you can’t leave your dog in the car all day if they don’t have access to fresh food and water. You also can’t leave them in the car if you have items in the vehicle, such a plastic shopping bags or heavy items that could topple.

The heat simply makes things works. The problem in the summertime is that many dog owners think that since they’re only running into the store for a minute or two, their dog will be fine. That’s not the case at all. It doesn’t take long for the car to get extremely hot. As the car heats up, your dog overheats, and heat stroke becomes a real threat. If you don’t return shortly, your dog will overheat to death.

As soon as the temp reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to be careful. Studies indicate that on a sunny 70-degree day, the interior of your car can reach 115 degrees in less than 30 minutes. Dogs start to experience heat exhaustion when it gets to 103 degrees.

If it’s warm out and someone spots your dog in the car, they’re legally allowed to break your vehicle’s windows and rescue your pet.

The broken car window will likely be the least of your concerns. If the police get involved, you can be charged with a $100 fine per each animal that was in the car. The amount will be higher if it’s not your first offense. If the pet needs medical attention, the maximum sentence increases to a $500 fine and six months in jail. In many cases, you’ll also face animal cruelty charges.

Now that the temperatures are consistently staying above 70 degrees, it is in your best interest to leave your dog home when you’re running errands.

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What’s the Difference Between Burglary and Robbery

What’s the Difference Between Burglary and Robbery

If you think that burglary and robbery are the same thing, you’re not alone. Most of us have the same assumption, but when it comes to the law, they are two different types of crimes.

One of the biggest distinctions between the two is that burglary is treated as a property crime while robbery is recorded as a violent crime committed against a person. Based purely on that description, you can probably guess which is treated as the more serious crime.

One of the interesting things about the burglary is that all you have to do is enter a property without the owner’s permission to be charged and you do so with the intention of taking something. It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken anything. Simply being there is enough. You will also likely be charged with trespassing at the same time.

The FBI defines robbery as the act of, “taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”

So if you simply enter someone’s property with the idea of stealing their new grill, but you don’t act in a threatening manner, you’ll be charged with burglary. If you go onto the same property for the same grill and threaten the owner until they give you the grill, you’ve committed a robbery.

Robberies have a much higher clearance rate. There are two reasons for this. The first is that by making threats, you made your intentions of taking something very clear. When dealing with a suspected burglary, police sometimes have a difficult time proving intent, and without intent, there’s no burglary charge, merely trespassing.

The second reason that robberies have a much higher clearance rate is that police are able to allocate more funds to robbery investigations. Better funding means a more thorough investigation.

If you’re convicted of first-degree robbery in California, the judge could sentence you to 9 years in a state prison. You could also be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and possibly restitution. A second-degree robber conviction can result in a 5-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

A first-degree burglary charge in California has a potential sentence of 6 years in prison. A second-degree burglary conviction can result in a 16-month stay in a county jail.

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Most Common Crimes in California

Most Common Crimes in California

The most common crimes in California vary from one county to the next. The stats can also change a great deal. Still, there are some crimes that are more prevalent than others.

Drug-Related Crimes

One of the interesting things about drug-related crimes in California is that the legalization of marijuana has reduced the number of drug-related arrests each year. It’s estimated that now that marijuana is legal law enforcement agencies have an additional $200 million that is used to deal with other types of crime.

While legalizing marijuana has reduced the number of drug-related crimes the state deals with annually, drugs still take the biggest toll on California’s legal system.

Violent Crimes

The violent crime rate in California fluctuates. It increased in 2012 and decreased by 2.9% between 2018 and 2019. According to data collected in 2019, 60% of the violent crime arrests were aggravated assault only 1% involved homicides.

DUIs

Despite all the warnings about combining alcohol and driving, DUIs still represent a major crime problem in California. The good news is that people seem to be getting better about not drinking and driving. In 2008, there were 208,845 DUI arrests in the state. In 2013 there were only 155,599 reported DUI arrests.

Weapons Charges

Weapons charges represent a large chunk of Calfornia’s crime problem, though there is a wide assortment of charges which range from quite minor to extremely serious. Given the complexity of California’s laws regarding weapons, if you plan on carrying anything that could be considered a weapon it’s in your best interest to spend a great deal of time reading through all of the laws that pertain to that specific weapon. Don’t forget that weapon laws can change from one county to the next.

Property Crimes

A surprising number of property crimes take place each year in California. The good news is that they appear to be decreasing. Two major California cities, Ventura and Fresno reported an impressive 10% decrease in property crimes in 2019.

It will be interesting to see how crime rates change in a post-Covid-19 world.

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Become Immune to Con Artists

Become Immune to Con Artists

Looking back, it’s easy to see the early warning signs that you were dealing with a con artist who was running some type of scam. The problem is that while the con is going down, a good con artist makes not only makes everything seem legit, the can also make it appear that not falling for their story would be downright silly.

The good thing is that there are some things you can do that will ensure you never become the victim of a clever con artist.

Give Yourself Time to Think

No matter how well you know someone, no matter how urgent a situation/deal seems, never agree to anything at the spur of a moment. Always give yourself some time to step back so that you can think about the situation.

Most con-artists know that triggering your emotions and convincing you to make a spur-of-the-moment decision is the best way to bilk you of money. That’s why they create scams that are designed to force you into making a spur-of-the-moment, emotional decision. A perfect example of this was a popular scam a few years ago where an elderly person would get a call from their “grandchild” who was in desperate need of bail money. 

If the person refuses to leave you alone long enough to marshal your thoughts, it’s likely a scam and you should immediately extract yourself from the situation.

Talk to Someone

Sometimes you’re simply too close to someone to see that they’re running a scam. When you aren’t sure if you’re being taken for a ride, the best thing you can do is talk to someone you trust and who has nothing to gain from the situation and get their impressions of the situation. 

Identify High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Con-artists and some salespeople use the same tactics. They take a high-pressure approach to marketing. Favorite tactics include:

• That the offer will only be available for a few minutes
• That it’s a one of a kind product/deal that’s in high demand
• That you’ll always regret not jumping at this opportunity

 
In most cases, once you fail to fall for the high-pressure sales tactic, the con artist either drops the conversation altogether and starts looking for a new victim or becomes a bully and tries to force you into taking their deal.

If they start bullying you, calmly call the police and request their assistance.

Trust Your Gut

Your instincts are your best resource when it comes to identifying a con artist. If they’re telling you that the person/situation isn’t good for you listen to them and remove yourself from the situation.

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What is Felony Stalking

What is Felony Stalking

While everyone knows that stalking is a crime, few realize that it can be a felony or a misdemeanor (and in some cases, the accused might be charged with both a felony and a misdemeanor.)

Every single state has stalking laws. While the nuances of stalking laws vary from one state to another, for the most part, each state has the same description of what can be considered stalking. As a rule, any behavior that can be considered prolonged harassment, an obvious attempt to frighten someone, the unwanted monitoring of a person, using proximity to threaten a person, or actions that lead to emotional distress is covered by stalking laws.

Anyone who engages in the following types of behavior will likely be charged and convicted of stalking in California:

• Going out of your way to follow a person
• Frequently showing up at locations where you know a specific person will be
• Using GPS to monitor a person’s movements
• Constantly filming/photographing someone without their permission
• Obsessively monitoring someone’s social media accounts, phone calls/texts, reading their emails, and studying their computer activities
• Going out of your way to gather as much information as you can about a specific person
• Leveling threats against a person or their loved ones (including pets) if they don’t spend time with you
• Instigating property damage
• Sending gifts and other forms of communication after you’ve been told to stop doing so

 
While it’s true that it can sometimes be difficult to determine when stalking crosses the line from a misdemeanor and becomes a felony, the general rule of thumb is that anything that seems more intense than simple harassment will likely be considered a case of felony stalking.

The exact punishment a person receives following a stalking conviction in California often varies from one case to the next. When handing down a sentence, the judge looks at a variety of factors, including:

• Your criminal history
• The type/intensity of the stalking episodes
• If the victim had a POP order that you ignored
• If anyone was hurt because of your actions

 
The sentence for a misdemeanor conviction can include spending a maximum of one year in county jail and being required to pay a fine that doesn’t exceed $1,000. In most cases, you’ll also be told that you’re legally required to stay away from your victim and that you’re also not allowed to contact them.

The sentence for a felony stalking conviction in California can include spending three years in state prison. If you have prior stalking convictions on your record, you could be sentenced to five years in prison.

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Preparing for a Custody Case

Preparing for a Custody Case

Sometimes relationships don’t work out. While it’s never easy when a couple decides they simply aren’t meant to be together, it’s significantly harder when there are children involved. Not only does sharing children mean that your now-former significant other will always be connected to your life, but it also means you have to prepare for a California custody case. 

The good news is that there are some things you can do to make the child custody case easier for you and your kids.

In a perfect world, you and your ex both agree that you want what’s best for your kids and are amicable enough that you can work together to create a custody plan. When you have to appear for a formal custody hearing, there’s a good chance that the judge will work with you to formalize the plan.

If you and your ex can’t work out a custody plan on your own things become complicated. In this situation, the judge will look at both parents and try to figure out a custody arrangement that’s best for your kids.
There are things you can do that increase the odds of things going your way.

Spend as Much Time With Your Kids as Possible

It’s likely that the separation has already taken a toll on how often you’re able to see your kids. Try to create a schedule that at least shows the judge you’re making an effort to spend time with your kids. If possible, try to work out a schedule that you can stick to that guarantees your kids will be with you on specific days and specific times. When you do have your kids, make the time you spend with your kids as high-quality and loving as possible.

What you don’t want to do is constantly turn your kids over to babysitters, daycare centers, and relatives when they’re supposed to be bonding with you. Once in a while is okay, but it shouldn’t be a regular thing.

Become Steady and Reliable

When it comes to choosing a custodial parent, one of the big things the court looks at is who is the more dependable parent. This means that once you make a commitment, you stick to it. Make sure you’re picking your kids up on time, taking them to medical appointments, and attending extracurricular activities.

Stay Clean

You don’t want to get into legal trouble while you’re in the middle of a custody battle. Many people have lost custody because they made one bad decision that led to a DUI. No matter how stressed you are or how badly you need a break, you need to remind yourself that your kids need you to be a responsible and law-abiding member of society.

Keep Detailed Records

The court is going to take a long, hard, and sometimes intrusive look at your personal life. You can make things easier for the court and yourself by keeping accurate and detailed records of the time you spent with your kids, your finances, and even your work history. The better your records are, the more likely it becomes that the court will rule in your favor.

The key to preparing for a custody case in California is presenting yourself as a level-headed, practical, and loving parent.

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Felony Animal Cruelty in California

Felony Animal Cruelty in California

It’s a story that broke the hearts of animal lovers all over Los Angeles. Local newspapers have been covering the story about a kitten who was thrown out in the trash. The fact that the kitten was considered a piece of trash is bad enough, the fact that it was also severely injured makes the story even worse.

The small calico kitten was rescued from the trash in October. When it was examined, a local veterinarian discovered that not only was one of the kitten’s legs currently broken, there was also evidence that the other leg had been fractured earlier healed badly. Additional injuries included a dislocated hip, bruised lungs, missing teeth, and several bruises and cuts. 

Sadly, this kitten’s story isn’t unusual. Every single year, California animal shelters to rescue and care for severely injured animals. What makes this case different is that police believe they’ve found the Lawndale man who is responsible for the kitten ending up in the trash. He’s been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty.

In an interesting twist, the kitten provided the clue needed for the local police to arrest the man believed to be responsible for the kitten’s injuries. The most important lead in the case came from the kitten’s microchip.

While the Lawndale man was arrested, he didn’t stay in jail long before he was released on his own recognizance, meaning he didn’t have to pay any bail. He doesn’t have to appear in court until July 22 for his arraignment. Police records indicate that he’s been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and two misdemeanor counts of failure to properly care for an animal.

California lawmakers have taken a tough stance on animal cruelty. As a result, California has some of the strictest animal cruelty laws in the country. The issue of animal cruelty is covered in the California Penal Code Section 597. It states that anyone who knowingly tries to kill, injury, abandon, neglect, or even overwork an animal can be charged with animal cruelty. It’s important to note, that you don’t have to own the animal to face cruelty charges. The law is written in such a way that even individuals who are caught harming wildlife can be charged with felony animal cruelty.

If convicted of felony animal cruelty, the judge could sentence the Lawndale man to spend three years in prison and charge him a $20,000 fine. In addition, the judge could order the man to also cover the cost of the kitten’s expenses for the time the cat was in foster care and receiving medical attention.

If convicted of a misdemeanor for failure to care for an animal charges, the man could be required to pay a $1,000 fine and serve six months in jail.

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