Wildfire Tips and Arson Laws

Wildfire Tips and Arson Laws

Wildfire Tips and Arson Laws

Fall has arrived in California and it has brought warm, dry, and windy weather with it. This can only lead to one thing, wildfires. Californians are pretty well acquainted with the dangers of wildfires. As such, most people are aware of how important it is for them to prevent the blazes from happening in the first place.

As utility companies such as Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric do everything they can to prevent causing yet another wildfire in California, it is important for everyone to follow suit. No one wants to be responsible for starting a major wildfire. Doing so could have a lot of hefty consequences.

Wildfire Prevention Tips

There are plenty of things homeowners can do around their home to help prevent a wildfire from starting on their property. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

  • Clear leaves and dead vegetation from the yard. This reduces the amount of dry kindling in the area.
  • Prune trees so that the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet off the ground. This makes it harder for ground fires to spread to tree tops.
  • Put metal screens no larger than 1/8 inch over openings under porches, eaves, and into vents. This can prevent combustible materials from gathering there and prevent embers from landing there.
  • Keep flammable materials such as piles of firewood and propane tanks, at least 30 feet away from your home, garage, and sheds.
  • Maintain lawns to keep them green and less flammable. Mow lawns in the morning before the weather gets too hot and windy. Dispose of lawn clippings and other yard trimmings quickly to prevent them from piling up in the yard.
  • Try to make sure neighbors follow these tips as well to prevent fires from starting near your house. If their yard become especially prone to wildfires, contact local fire officials to alert them to the problem.

Another good rule of thumb is to just be aware of what actions can start wildfires. For instance:

  • Burning trash in a person’s back yard.
  • Leaving a campsite unattended without completely dousing the campfire.
  • Mowing the lawn can cause fires if a rock is struck by the blades, creating a spark.
  • Playing with fire, especially on windy days, can easily get out of hand.
  • Setting off fireworks in a bad area.
  • Throwing a cigarette on the ground can ignite nearby brush.

Even if unintentional, a person can get into serious trouble, for starting a wildfire here in California.

Penalties for Starting a Fire

The state of California has two arson laws. One applies when a person purposefully starts a fire. The other applies when a person accidentally starts a fire.

California Penal Code (PC) 451 makes it a crime for a person to willfully and maliciously set fire to any structure, forest land, or property. This law is a felony offense, meaning a person guilty of this will face harsh consequences. The exact severity of the consequences depend on what type of property was burned and if anyone was injured by the blaze. Depending on those facts, a person can face a state prison sentence from 16 months to 9 years.

PC 452 makes it a crime for any person to recklessly set fire to any structure, forest land, or property. Unlike PC 451, this offense is typically a misdemeanor, but can be charged as a felony if forest land is burned or someone is injured. If a person is guilty of breaking this law by burning down personal property, they face:

  • A max jail stay of 6 months.
  • A fine of no more than $1,000.

Accidentally burning structures, forest land, inhabited property, or causing great bodily injury can get a person locked up for as short as 16 months in county jail, or up to 6 years in state prison. This all depends on if the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and what exactly happened.

Be Careful with Fire

Wildfires are a very serious threat here in California. Everyone knows this. That is why it is important for everyone to do their part in preventing wildfires from happening. Luckily, it is pretty easy to not start a wildfire. All a person has to do is be careful.

For a more comprehensive list of what do to during a wildfire, and what to include in an emergency kit, check out ready.gov. This is the US government’s official website dedicated to helping people prepare for all kinds of natural disasters and emergencies. This site provides all sorts of useful information that every prepared family should know.

What do you think of being prepared for wildfires? Do you have any extra tips to add on to this list? If so, post them in the comments below and help other people be prepared. Also, what do you think of California having 2 different arson laws? Share your thoughts down below.

Runaways in California

Runaways in California

Runaways in California

Ask any parent and they will tell you that raising kids is not an easy task. Raising children is both challenging and rewarding. There can be a lot of good days, and a lot of bad days as well. Arguably one of the worst kinds of days would be when a child decides to run away from home.

No parent ever wants to discover that their child ran away from home because they were unhappy. Unfortunately for parents, almost all teens consider running away at some point. This statistic does mean that if a child runs away, they aren’t a bad kid, they just made a bad decision. Luckily, not every teen goes through with the act.

Why Teens Run Away

Teens can runaway for all sorts of reasons including:

  • They got involved with drugs.
  • They made a bad choice and are afraid of the consequences.
  • They started hanging out with a bad crowd.
  • They want to gain some control over their life.

Often times when teens consider running away, they glamorize it. They view the act as a way to solve all of their problems and make their life better than what it would be if they stayed at home. They rarely ever consider the consequences of the act, and so are often in for a rude awakening.

What to do if a Minor Runs Away

When a parent discovers that a child has run away, they need to stay as calm as possible. It can be hard to do, but this will help the parent moving forward. Despite the prevalent rumor that a person needs to wait at least 24 hours before reporting that a child is missing, a parent is supposed to call right away.

The rule about waiting for a set amount of time is mostly for capable adults. When it comes to teens, and dependent adults, police urge parents and guardians to contact them right away. When a parent talks to a police officer, they should take down their name and badge number. Check back often for any updates.

After doing that, a parent should contact anyone and everyone they, or their child, know who might have information on the teen’s whereabouts. A parent should keep their cellphone on them at all times in case their child calls.

Lastly, search the teen’s room for clues and check their cellphone bill to see who they’ve been calling recently. Try contacting those people for information. Also look into location tracking on the teen’s phone.

Once They’ve Come Home

When a child disappears on a parent, it can be a very stressful and terrifying time. Naturally, when they get back emotions will be at an all-time high. Parents will feel a bizarre mix of relief and frustration. In this situation, the last thing a parent wants to do is yell at their child.

It is recommended that the situation not be addressed until both parties have had time to calm down from the incident. Once everyone has calmed down, then a parent can ask why their child ran away, then they have to sit and listen to their child. Don’t interrupt him or her. A parent should let their child say what they need to say.

Once the child has said their peace, the parent can tell their side of the story. They should let their child know how they felt when they realized the child left. Remind the child that they are loved, and that they can always talk to their parents.

If the running away, or even communicating, becomes a regular problem, then ask for help. The help can come from another adult that the child respects, or from a professional.

Call the Police Right Away

The last thing a parent ever wants to experience is their child running away from home. It can be truly terrifying to not know where a child is. Pretty much everyone can understand that.

This is why law enforcement agencies jump into action when they learn that a child has run away from home. They know that every second counts, and so they encourage anyone who thinks their child has run away should contact them right away. They never consider it a waste of resources to look for a missing child.

5 Commonly Ignored Driving Laws

5 Commonly Ignored Driving Laws

Anyone who has ever driven knows that there are a lot of laws to follow while on the road. With so many different things to pay attention to, it can be hard to follow all of the rules 100% of the time. This is especially true when people witness others breaking certain laws and figure if those people can do it, so can they.

There are dozens of different driving laws that people break every single day. Some of the most common ones include the following:

Speeding over the Limit

This one is obvious. People speed just about everywhere you go, but especially in California. In fact, it is not uncommon to come across sections of highway where the posted limit is 55 mph and yet every driver on the road is doing a minimum of 70 mph. Regardless, driving over the posted speed limit is illegal no matter how many other drivers do it.

Stopping at Stop Signs

Some drivers see stop signs and somehow read them as “slow down a little” instead of “stop.” This in turn leads to numerous accidents. In addition to that, it can lead to a ticket for the driver. Failing to stop at a stop sign is an infraction level offense that comes with a small fine and a point on a driver’s record.

Seatbelts Are Required

For a lot of people, buckling up when they get into a car is automatic. However, some people struggle with the idea of buckling up every single time they are in a vehicle. Being in a moving vehicle without a seatbelt is not only dangerous, but also illegal. This can earn a driver another infraction, and if they are driving a vehicle with someone under the age of 16 unbuckled in the car, they can face a separate citation for that as well.

Distracted Driving Is Dangerous

Everyone is aware that driving while distracted by just about anything, but mainly smart phones, can be incredibly dangerous. Some studies have even found that is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated or drunk. This is likely due to the fact that at least the drunk driver is trying to focus on the road, while the distracted driver is more concerned with sending a text, applying makeup, or eating. Despite this, and the fact that distracted driving is illegal, people do this every day. If a person doesn’t wind up in an accident, they could face a ticket with some small fines.

Hit and Run

Whenever people mess up, they are afraid of the consequences. After all, nobody likes getting into trouble. Unfortunately, sometimes things happen and a person is in an accident. The worst thing they can do is leave the scene of the crime. If they do this, it no longer matters if they were responsible for the accident. They left the scene and could have even left someone injured and dying. That is horrible, which is why it is illegal for a driver to leave the scene of an accident that they were involved in without first administering any needed aid or leaving contact information. The consequences for doing so can vary depending on the severity of the accident.

Keep These Laws in Mind While Driving

There are all sorts of laws that California drivers seem to forget about. Drivers need to remember these rules, not only to avoid an expensive ticket, since even the small fines are often a few hundred dollars, but to avoid ending up in a serious accident. Many of these laws were enacted to help keep people safe while driving. Failing to follow several of these could easily cost a person their life. Nobody wants that.

Are there any other California laws that you see drivers forgetting on a regular basis that are missing from this list?

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California Car Theft Laws

California Car Theft Laws

California Car Theft Laws

Cars are very expensive, but very useful to have. Owning a vehicle allows a person to go to work, run errands, and perform all sorts of other activities on their own schedule. They don’t have to rely on busses and other people to drive them around. It is very freeing to own a vehicle.

However, cars are not a cheap investment. They cost several thousands of dollars, which is why car owners try their best to take care of their investments. Unfortunately, there are people out there who would rather take someone else’s car than buy one themselves. Depending on how they take the car, they could get into all sorts of trouble.

Different State Laws

Here in the state of California, there are all sorts of laws regarding car theft. The laws vary on how the car was stolen, and the intent behind the theft. Some of the big car theft laws include: grand theft auto, carjacking, and joyriding.

Grand theft auto is illegal in California under Penal Code (PC) 487 which is the state’s grand theft law. Grand theft auto is a sub-category of grand theft. PC 487 defines grand theft auto as the act of taking a car valued at over $950 from someone else without their permission and with the intent of depriving the owner of the vehicle, or scraping and selling the vehicle. If a person does this, then they are guilty of grand theft auto.

Carjacking is similar to grand theft, however it is its own unique crime. Under PC 215, carjacking is defined as forcefully taking a vehicle from the owner’s immediate presence. Basically, this means taking the car from a person as they are driving it, or getting into it. The person often uses force or fear to get the vehicle in these instances, making the crime more violent.

Joyriding is its own crime as well here in California. Vehicle Code (VC) 10851 defines joyriding as taking someone else’s car without their permission regardless if they intended to simply borrow the car, or keep it for themselves.

Consequences of Car Theft

Depending on how a person stole the vehicle, determines which law they broke and therefor what consequences they face.

If a person breaks PC 487, they will likely face felony charges. While the crime is a wobbler here in California, which means it could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, the crime is typically charged as a felony. The penalties of felony grand theft auto are:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail.
  • A max fine of $10,000.

Since carjacking includes taking a vehicle through force or fear, it is considered a violent crime. This means that PC 215 comes with felony charges. The penalties for breaking this law include:

  • 3, 5, or 9 years in state prison.
  • A max fine of $10,000.

A person faces these punishments for each victim that was in the car at the time of the carjacking. In addition, there are other enhancements that can increase the penalties, such as whether or not one of the victims suffered great bodily injury or if the accused is a gang member.

Joyriding under VC 10851 is a wobbler offense. This means it can either be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. As a misdemeanor, the crime comes with the following consequences:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A max fine of $5,000.

As a felony, a person faces the same max fine, but an increased jail stay of one of the following lengths:

  • 16 months.
  • 2 years.
  • 3 years.

If a person has prior joyriding convictions, or “borrowed” an emergency service vehicle such as a police car, firetruck, or ambulance, then they can face the following charges:

  • A max fine of $10,000.
  • 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail.

Don’t Steal Cars in California

Cars are a pretty big deal to a lot of people, and as such, a person shouldn’t take them without permission. Stealing a car can get a person into a whole lot of trouble, especially if they do so in a violent manner. Depending on how a person stole a vehicle, what vehicle they took, and whether or not they have any priors, a person can very quickly find themselves in a heap of trouble.

What do you think of the state’s various car theft laws? Were you surprised there were so many variations? What about the consequences for each crime, are they reasonable, or do they some need adjusting? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.