Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween Safety Tips

October is here, and all anyone can think about is the holiday of Halloween at the end of the month. Kids love getting dressed in fun costumes and trick-or-treating for bags full of candy. Meanwhile, adults enjoy dressing up as well, but they have parties to get to instead of wandering door to door hunting for candy.

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

When it comes to trick-or-treating, a parent’s main priority should be keeping their child safe. This can be a bit tricky as the sun sets and things get dark. In order to ensure that everyone stays safe this Halloween, here are some safety tips to keep in mind while out trick-or-treating:

  • Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street in front of them.
  • Always walk in well-lit areas.
  • Don’t eat any candy until home and a parent has inspected it for any tampering.
  • Each child should be carrying a flashlight or glow stick.
  • Face paint is better than wearing masks since masks can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Make sure costumes are the appropriate size so they are not loose or baggy on the child, creating a tripping hazard.
  • Never cross the street between parked cars. Drivers are less likely to notice pedestrians between cars.
  • Never enter a stranger’s home or car.
  • Only cross streets at corners with traffic signals and/or crosswalks. Always check left and right before crossing.
  • Only walk on sidewalks or paths. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street facing oncoming traffic.
  • Put electronic devices down when walking, and especially when crossing the street.
  • Put reflective tape and stickers on bags or costumes when possible to increase visibility.

Following these safety tips should help a parent keep their children safe this Halloween.

Tampering with Halloween Candy Is a Crime

Tampering with food products in a way that can harm someone is a crime here in California. Under California Penal Code (PC) 347, it is illegal for a person to tamper or poison food, medicine, and public water supplies.

This crime is a felony offense, and can earn a person a prison stay of one of the following:

  • 2 years.
  • 4 years.
  • 5 years.

If someone is killed suffers great bodily harm from the act, an additional 3 years in prison is added to the sentence.

Basically, no one should be tampering with Halloween candy.

Halloween Safety Tips for Adults

Not every adult has children who are trick-or-treating that they need to worry about. These adults tend to have parties to go to. While they may not be trick-or-treating themselves, they still need to be aware of trick-or-treaters while driving around. A few tips for adults this Halloween would be:

  • Be careful while exiting driveways and alleyways.
  • Be extra wary of kids crossing at intersections.
  • Drive slower in residential neighborhoods.
  • Popular times for trick-or-treating fall between 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm, so be very cautious during those times.
  • Turn headlights on earlier in the evening to increase visibility.
  • Watch for kids while driving, especially kids in dark clothing.
Keep Halloween Safe and Fun

Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday for children and adults alike. No one wants to ruin the evening with an accident of some kind. That is why everyone, including adults not out trick-or-treating, need to be more cautious this evening. By being more aware, they can avoid harming a trick-or-treater who was just looking to get an excellent score of candy to take home.

Do you have any safety tips for Halloween that might be missing from this list? What do you think of California’s laws about tampering with someone’s food, particularly candy given out at Halloween?

Halloween and DUI’s

Halloween and DUI’s

Halloween and DUI’s

It’s no secret that there will be alcohol at Halloween parties, and most adults will enjoy themselves. This alone isn’t a problem. The real problem arises when people who have been drinking decide that they are going to drive. Drunk driving is always a bad idea. It can get a person into a lot of trouble, and yet people break this law all of the time.

DUI Is Illegal in California

It is illegal to get behind the wheel of vehicle while intoxicated, or high, in the state of California. The reason for this is that being drunk, or high, greatly reduces a person’s mental capacities. They have less control over their body movements and have slower reaction times.

All of this adds up to really bad driving. If something unexpected happens in front of a drunk driver, they will be less likely to react in time to avoid an accident. They also struggle to perform simple tasks such as driving in a straight line. Bottom line, all of this puts people in danger.

Penalties of Driving While Drunk

The penalties for driving while drunk here in California depend on a few different factors. For starters, is this the driver’s first time breaking this law, or have they done this before? Also, was someone injured or even killed due to the driver’s actions. All of this plays a part in how the driver is punished for driving drunk.

For a first time offense, a person faces:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • A 4 month driver’s license suspension or 6 months with an ignition interlocking device (IID).
  • 3 – 9 months of DUI school.

A second offense comes with:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • A 2 year driver’s license suspension or 1 year with an IID.
  • 18 – 30 months of DUI school.

Third and subsequent offenses come with:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • A 3 year driver’s license suspension or 2 years with an IID.
  • 30 months of DUI school.

If another person is injured due to the driver’s actions, then the driver can face either misdemeanor or felony charges. For a misdemeanor DUI with injury, the penalties are pretty much the same as a first time DUI offense, except the max fine is increased to $5,000. For felony DUI with injuries, the penalties are:

  • 16 months to 16 years in state prison.
  • A max fine of $5,000.
  • 1 year of driving with an IID.
  • 18 – 30 months of DUI school.

As one can see, the more often a person drives while drunk, or high, the worse the consequences become.

Don’t Drive While Drunk

Driving while drunk is bad enough on any other day of the year, but becomes extra dangerous on Halloween. On this night, lots of kids are out and about trick-or-treating. This means that a drunk driver is more likely to get into an accident on this night, and that accident is more likely to involve children.

No sane person would want to risk getting into a car accident with children, so why take the chance? That is why anyone planning on drinking this Halloween should also plan a safe ride home. Assign a designated driver (DD) before going to the party, and make sure the DD knows they are the DD. In addition, getting a safe ride home is less than a phone call away nowadays with apps like Uber and Lyft. There is no reason for anyone to drive drunk.

A person can usually also count on a friend or family member to come pick them up too. While the loved one may not enjoy the call, it is arguably better than finding out someone was hurt because they decided to drive drunk rather than bug someone.

Let’s keep this Halloween safe and fun by not driving while drunk or high this year!

California Drunk in Public Laws

California Drunk in Public Laws

California Drunk in Public Laws

Most people like to go out and party from time to time. After all, it is nice to cut lose and forget about any responsibilities for the evening. Often times when people do this, they like to consume alcohol. There is nothing wrong with that. However, there are ways that people can get themselves into trouble with alcohol.

Everyone is aware of the obvious problems with drinking and driving, but there can also be problems for just being drunk and out in public. If a person is so drunk that they begin to risk their own safety or interfere with others, they can get into legal trouble.

California Penal Code 647f

California Penal Code (PC) 647 is the state’s law against disorderly conduct. This law covers things from begging for money to prostitution. One aspect of disorderly conduct that this law covers under section f is public intoxication.

PC 647f defines public intoxication as being any person in a public place who is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any other controlled substance and is in a condition where they are unable to exercise care for their own safety, or the safety of others. This includes things such as stumbling along the sidewalk, almost falling into the street, or even passing out on the sidewalk and blocking people from using it.

This law does not prevent a person from getting drunk while out on the town. What it is aimed at is preventing a person from getting so drunk that they could hurt themselves or someone else. To get to this level of drunk, a person usually has to overdo their drinking. So, in order to avoid getting into trouble a person needs to be aware of their limits and not push things while out in public.

Penalties of Being Drunk in Public

Breaking PC 647 is a misdemeanor offense. This means that a person faces the following consequences:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.

It is possible for a person to get probation instead of jail time for this crime, but that is up to the case judge.

No matter how a person is punished for this crime, it goes on their criminal record. There, it will be visible to any potential employers, which means a drunk in public charge could cost a person a future job. It is really in a person’s best interest to not overdo things and wind up in trouble with the law.

Don’t Overdo It

Whenever a person decides to go drinking, they need to do so responsibly. That means not drinking too much so they don’t get to the point that they can’t take care of themselves. If they do that, and are out in public, they can get into trouble with law enforcement for disorderly conduct. Nobody wants that, especially since it sticks around on a person’s criminal record. No one wants to miss out on a job because of something dumb they did a long time ago.

What do you think of California’s take on disorderly conduct and being drunk in public? Are the laws too lenient, or are they too strict?

California’s Stand Your Ground Laws

California’s Stand Your Ground Laws

California’s Stand Your Ground Laws

The last thing anyone wants is to be put in a dangerous situation where they need to defend themselves from an attacker. Unfortunately this situation does happen on rare occasions. As if this wasn’t bad enough, there are some states in the US that don’t allow people to defend themselves with any means necessary. This means that in some states, a person who may have killed someone in self-defense, could actually face murder charges.

Due to this fact, a person needs to be aware of their state’s laws when it comes to self-defense, particularly stand your ground laws.

Castle Defense

Here in California, the state does not have a stand your ground law, but it does have a Castle Doctrine. Penal Code (PC) 198.5 allows a person to use deadly force within their own home so long as certain worries arise. As long as all of the following occurs, a person is allowed to use deadly force to protect their home:

  • A person broke into their home.
  • The intruder was not a law enforcement officer doing their job.
  • There was reasonable fear of death or injury for the homeowner or a family member.
  • The occupants of the home didn’t provoke the intruder.

In those instances, a person can do whatever they need to in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm.

Self-Defense While Out

The problem with PC 198.5 is that it only applies when a person is in their own home. It doesn’t give a person the right to defend themselves while out in public. This is where stand your ground laws come into play in other states. These laws grant a person the ability to do what they feel they need to in times of distress in order to protect themselves from an attacker.

California does not have a particular stand your ground law. However, California does recognize that there are times where a person may need to use deadly force in order to defend themselves. California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) 505 and 506 instruct jurors to find defendants innocent of crimes such as homicide or assault if the person acted reasonably under the given circumstances, specifically:

  • The person reasonably believed they were in danger of being hurt or killed.
  • The person reasonably believed they needed to use force to keep themselves safe.
  • The person used only the amount of force necessary to protect themselves.

As long as a person followed the above, they should be found innocent.

In some states, a person needs to run away from a threat before they are legally permitted to use deadly force. That is not the case in California. As long as a person is defending themselves from threat of injury or death, they can do whatever they reasonably feel they need to in order to survive.

Stand Your Ground vs. Castle Defense

While both stand your ground laws and castle defense laws refer to a person defending themselves from an attacker, they are not exactly the same. Stand your ground laws apply wherever a person may be while castle defense only applies when a person is within their own home, or a few select places, such as their car.

No one ever wants to need to defend themselves, but the need can arise in rare instances. If a person ever finds themselves needing to protect themselves in California, they can rest easy knowing that the state will not fault them for doing whatever they felt was necessary to protect themselves during the situation.

What do you think of California’s take on stand your ground laws and castle defense? Should people be allowed to use reasonable, even deadly, force in order to defend themselves from an attacker? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

California’s Seat Belt Laws

California’s Seat Belt Laws

California’s Seat Belt Laws

Every driver has seen a sign telling them and their passengers to buckle their seat belts. Most people don’t need to be reminded to buckle up. They know that wearing their seat belt is the best way to stay safe in the event of an accident. However, there are still some people out there who need to be reminded of that fact.

In an effort to try to keep everyone safe, every state in the union has created laws against driving without a seat belt. Here in California, Vehicle Code (VC) 27315 is the state’s seat belt law. It lists the times when a person needs to wear a seat belt and what kind of consequences a person would face for not wearing the belt.

California Vehicle Code 27315

VC 27315 is more commonly referred to as the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This act was created in an effort to keep motorists safe while driving across California. The act basically states that no person over the age of 16 can ride or drive in a moving vehicle without being properly restrained.

Being properly restrained is defined as having the lower lap portion strapped over the stomach and the upper shoulder portion of the belt being strapped across the front of the chest. Basically, for any vehicle from the year 1996 or newer, passengers have to wear the full seat belt. A person cannot place the shoulder portion of the seat belt behind their back.

Another factor in this law is that all seat belts need to be kept in proper, working order.

Consequences of Not Buckling Up

Breaking VC 27315 is an infraction level offense. This means it does not come with criminal charges or jail time. A person simply faces a small fine for not wearing their seat belt while riding in a moving vehicle.

When a person doesn’t wear their seat belt, they will be the ones to get a ticket, not the driver of the vehicle. Unless the un-belted person is a minor, in which case the driver is responsible for the child’s safety.

For a first time offense, a person faces a $20 base fine.

For any subsequent offenses, a person faces a $50 base fine.

In some instances, a person may be able to avoid a fine if they can take a traffic school course, provided the course teaches about seat belt safety.

Despite the nature of breaking this law, a person will not receive any points on their driver’s license. This helps a person avoid collecting too many points on their license and the increased insurance rates that would come with them.

It is important to remember that all of these consequences are on top of the fact that if a person doesn’t wear a seat belt and winds up in an accident, they are much more likely to receive serious injuries. Seat belts save lives. By not wearing one, a person is risking their own life.

Kids and Seat Belts

It is pretty easy to see how seat belts aren’t exactly designed for children. That is why there are car seats built to keep kids safe at all ages. According to California law:

  • Kids under the age of 2 should be restrained in rear-facing car seats unless the child weighs more than 40 pounds, or is taller than 40 inches.
  • Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat in the back seat.
  • Children 8 and older, or taller than 4 feet, 9 inches, should be in a booster seat, or at least secured by a seat belt.
  • Children 16 and older must wear a seat belt.

Failing to follow these regulations can result in the parent receiving fines, and a point on their driver’s license.

A first time offense comes with a base fine of $100.

Subsequent offenses come with a base fine of $250.

Don’t Ignore the Ticket

With such a small ticket price, some people may feel like ignoring the ticket and its court date. However, that is a terrible idea. By ignoring a ticket and failing to appear in court, a person violates VC 40508. Unlike VC 27315, breaking VC 40508 comes with actual criminal charges.

When a person breaks this law, they can face:

  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.

Just Wear the Seat Belt

At the end of the day, it is best that everyone just buckle up when they get in a vehicle. Doing so can keep them safe in the event of an accident. Plus, getting caught not wearing a seat belt can earn a person a nice fine, and they will have to appear in court. It is so much easier to just wear the seat belt.

What do you think of California’s take on seat belt laws? Is it too much, or not enough? Should driving without a seat belt earn a person a point on their driver’s license? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

Minors Breaking the Law

Minors Breaking the Law

Minors Breaking the Law

Finding out that a child has broken a law is a terrible situation for a parent to deal with. No parent ever wants to answer the front door, or a phone, to learn that their child is in some serious trouble. While rare, this does happen from time to time. As such, a parent should be aware of what happens when a minor has a run in with law enforcement agents.

How the Law Handles Juveniles

When a minor gets in trouble with the law, officers react a little differently. In most cases, minors receive lesser penalties for crimes than an adult would. Still, there are times when a minor could find themselves locked up.

What happens to a minor who broke the law is largely dependent on the crime itself. If the charge is relatively minor, then the child will likely be allowed to go home, or be escorted home. Most of the time, the law prefers that parents take care of the children themselves. However, that is not always an option.

If things are a little more serious, then the minor may be given a summons to appear in court at a later date. If things are real bad, then the minor may be arrested and taken to juvenile hall.

Juvenile Hall

Just because a minor is taken to juvenile hall does not mean that they will be forced to stay there forever. This isn’t the end of the world.

A probation officer will look at the case and decide how to proceed. The officer can do one of the following:

  • Give the minor a citation to appear in court and send him/her home.
  • Place the minor on probation, which allows them to go home and avoid going to court, unless they continue to misbehave.
  • Hold the minor in juvenile hall until a judge can look at the case.

Minors in Court

When dealing with courts, minors go to a separate court that focuses solely on minors. If a child has to go to a hearing in court, they could be going for any of the following reasons:

  • Detention Hearing. This will determine if the child needs to stay in juvenile hall or not.
  • Transfer Hearing. This will determine if the case will stay at this level, or be moved up to an adult court.
  • Adjudication. This is the actual trial held in front of a judge, without a jury.
  • Disposition Hearing. If the juvenile is found guilty, this is where they receive their sentencing.

Despite the fact that these court hearings are for minors, they are still very serious. A person should treat these hearings the exact same way they would any other court appearances. This means a person, especially the minor, should dress appropriately and behave while in the court.

Consequences of Court

The goal of the juvenile delinquency system is to rehabilitate minors and to help mold them into good, well-behaved individuals. As such, judges have a lot of options when it comes to sentencing any minor that is found guilty.

What is likely the best case scenario for a guilty verdict, is probation. This means the minor is able to go home. They just have to be on their best behavior to ensure they don’t receive a worse punishment. Some common probation conditions can include:

  • A curfew.
  • Going to counseling.
  • Going to school.
  • Making restitutions to the victims.
  • Performing community service.

A worst case scenario would be when a judge determines that a child is better off away from their home. The child could become a ward of the state, which is where the state takes responsibility for the child. The minor could be placed into a probation camp, or into California’s Division of Juvenile Justice. Neither of these are great outcomes.

Be a Part of Your Child’s Life

No parent ever wants their child to have to face hardship, and getting into trouble with the law definitely counts as hardship. Luckily, a child has to screw up pretty majorly in order to wind up in juvenile hall. So long as a parent takes an active role in their kid’s life, they should be able to prevent that from ever happening.

When kids have guidance, they are able to make better choices, and therefore are less likely to end up getting into trouble in the first place. That is why parents need to pay attention to their kids. If they don’t, their child could make a bad choice and find him or herself in juvie.