What Are the Littering Laws Here in California?

What Are the Littering Laws Here in California?

What Are the Littering Laws Here in California?

For the most part, people don’t think about littering too much. For some, it is a concept that never crosses their mind because they always throw stuff away in trash cans. For others, it is something they do without a second thought. They don’t even consider how it might affect other people.

Littering and illegal dumping not only make places look dirty and run down, but they can also create a health hazard. This is especially important to think about when dealing with a pandemic. After working so hard to convince people to shift toward reusable items, the spread of COVID-19 has led to a rise in single-use items such as masks and gloves.

Thankfully, most people are responsibly disposing of these items when they are done with them. However, there are a few people out there that still show no concern for just leaving items on the ground wherever they want.

California Penal Code 374

The act of littering is made illegal in the state of California under Penal Code (PC) 374. This section of the law is all about how people dispose of their waste products. The law even classifies what counts as waste products. Under this law, the following can be considered waste products, which means there are subject to littering and dumping laws.

Waste matter means any used, discarded, or leftover substances such as:

  • Cigarettes and cigars
  • Matches
  • Flaming or glowing materials
  • Garbage
  • Refuse
  • Paper
  • Containers and packaging
  • Construction materials
  • Carcasses of dead animals
  • Any nauseous or offensive matter
  • Any object that can cause injury
  • Any object that can create a traffic hazard

If a person leaves any of this kind of material anywhere other than a trash can, then they could be guilty of littering or illegal dumping.

Consequences of Littering and Dumping

The penalties for littering vary depending on how many times a person has been charged with the crime, but it will always be charged as an infraction. This means that it will only come with a small fine and no possibility of jail time.

A first time littering offense comes with lighter consequences than a third-time offense. A first time littering offense comes with a minimum fine of $100 and 8 hours of community service, which is typically picking up trash on the side of the road. Any third or subsequent offenses come with a minimum $750 fine and up to 24 hours of community service.

For many people, this may seem like a harsh overreaction for throwing a plastic bottle out of a car window. The problem is, that it wasn’t just one bottle. So many people here in California just toss garbage on the ground without a care. The large fine exists to try and prevent people from doing that. The community service helps show people just how bad the problem is.

How to Properly Remove Medical Gloves

This sounds a bit silly, but there is a proper way to remove gloves, especially when they might be contaminated with something like coronavirus. The idea of wearing gloves is to keep all of the pathogens on the outside of the glove and away from the hand on the inside. Wearing the gloves becomes pointless if a person doesn’t take them off properly and winds up touching the contaminated areas.

To properly take off gloves, grip the cuff of one glove with the opposite hand. Carefully pull the cuff out and down toward the fingers. The idea is to start to turn the glove inside out. Pull the glove until it is almost completely off of the fingers. From there, grab the inside out glove in the opposite hand and ball it up. Now with the ungloved hand, slip a finger under the cuff of the remaining glove and pull it out and down like the first one. If done properly, the second glove should be inside out with the first one contained inside of it.

When gloves are removed in this manner, a person limits how much they touch and safely keep the contaminated services of the gloves wrapped up. Now all that is left to do is to dispose of the gloves in a trash can, not on the ground.

Stay Safe and Healthy

Littering may not seem like a big deal, but it is. It becomes even worse during a pandemic when people are trying to stop the spread of disease. Just tossing used masks and gloves on the ground is not only bad for the environment, but it also increases the chances of a disease spreading to unsuspecting people.

If you want to stay safe and healthy during this pandemic, then be sure to wear gloves and masks when needed. When you are done with these items, be sure to properly dispose of them to decrease the chances of the disease spreading.

Not All Snitches Get Stitches

Not All Snitches Get Stitches

Not All Snitches Get Stitches

When people spend a lot of time together, they will inevitably upset one another. It is only natural. What is not okay is when someone upsets another person and then begin hurting them for it. While most people don’t stoop to this level, there are some people out there who do.

Thanks to the forced isolation, patience is running thin for people all over the place. This is especially problematic for people in abusive relationships. Living with an abuser can be bad enough in good times, but when in quarantine, things can get a whole lot worse.

It is always important for people to know what to do when they witness abuse, but now it is even more important.

You Are Not Alone

Domestic violence and abuse is not something that should be taken lightly. Hurting anyone is bad, but it is even worse when it is a loved one. It breaks a person’s trust and can harm them both physically and mentally.

People who are suffering from abuse caused by a loved one don’t have to stay in that relationship. Some people can help. There are hundreds of domestic violence services here in California. All of these services can help people getting out of bad relationships.

Another good place to look for help is at the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website: https://www.thehotline.org/. This useful website provides people with the guidance and tools that they need to get safe if they want it. The website even has features that allow visitors to quickly leave the page and go to Google if they need to leave the website in a hurry.

Helping Loved Ones Deal with Abuse

While the choice to leave an abusive relationship is ultimately up to the person in the relationship, it can be nice for them to know they aren’t alone. If someone knows a person who they suspect is in an abusive relationship, the first thing they should do is talk to that person in a safe space away from the potential abuser. The person should let the potential victim know that they are worried about them. No matter what the potential victim says or decides to do, try to provide non-judgmental support.

The Hotline states that it can take, on average, 7 attempts for a victim to leave their abusive relationship for good. This can be hard for people to deal with when it is their loved one being abused. The Hotline reminds people that they cannot save someone from an abusive relationship unless the person wants to leave. If this is the case for a person and their loved one, the person should not lose hope or give up on their loved one. Instead, as long as it is safe to do so, the person should continue to provide love and support for their loved one. In time, that could be what helps someone leave an abusive relationship.

What to Do If You Witness Abuse in Public

If a person is out in public and they see someone being abused by another person, the first thing they need to consider is their own safety. They won’t be helping anyone if they get hurt too. It is important to remember that there is safety in numbers meaning that a group has a better chance of making an impact.

A witness could also contact the authorities and report the incident. They can even go the extra step of recording the incident to provide evidence to the police if the victim decides to press charges. As long as people are out in public, it is perfectly legal for a person to record them because they are not in a place where a person would reasonably expect privacy.

Remember, even if the incident is recorded, it is up to the victim on whether or not they want to press charges against their abuser.

Give Them Love and Support

Being in an abusive relationship is horrible. From the outside, it may be easy to see the problems and to make the decision to leave. However, from within, the victim might not be able to see any viable options for escape. They may not even want to escape.

All a person can do for someone in an abusive relationship is provide love and support for the victim. Doing that can help a whole lot more than people realize.

Teaching Kids about Gun Safety

Teaching Kids about Gun Safety

Teaching Kids about Gun Safety

The state of California has been a leader in gun control laws for a while now, and for good reason. In the wrong hands, guns can cause a lot of damage, which is why they need to be treated with the proper respect. That respect needs to be instilled in people of all ages but is arguably more important when children are involved.

Recently, there has been a rise in gun purchases amidst all of the panic caused by the growing pandemic. It is important for everyone, whether they are a new gun owner or someone who has owned a gun for a while, to know how to store their gun, as well as how to keep it out of children’s hands.

California Gun Storage Laws

When it comes to owning a gun in California, owners need to be aware of how the firearm is supposed to be stored. Failing to store a gun and its ammunition properly can have disastrous consequences in which someone is hurt. If that does happen, the gun owner could even face criminal charges for improperly storing the gun in the first place.

The act of improperly storing a gun is referred to under Penal Code (PC) 25100 criminal storage of a firearm. There are two different levels to this crime, first- and second-degree.

Criminal storage of a firearm in the first degree occurs when a person keeps a loaded gun in their home or anywhere else that the person has control where a child could gain access to the gun, and a child obtains the gun and causes death or great bodily injury to someone. This is a wobbler crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The consequences for this crime as a misdemeanor can include:

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

When charged as a felony, this crime can come with:

  • 16 months, 2, or 3 years in county jail.
  • A max fine of $10,000.
  • Criminal storage of a firearm in the second degree occurs when the child removes the gun from the home. If a child gets ahold of the firearm and takes it to a public place or exhibits the gun in a rude, angry or threatening manner, then the owner of the gun will face this charge.

This is a misdemeanor offense that comes with

:

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

Teaching Kids About Guns

If someone is going to be keeping a gun in their home alongside children, then they need to educate those kids about firearms. They need to know the best ways to handle a gun, which in the case of kids means never handling a gun. Few adults understand the gravity of pointing a gun at something, and kids definitely don’t understand just how serious that is.

According to California’s General Attorney, there are four rules that kids should follow when guns are concerned.

      Stop. The child should stop what they are doing if they find or see a gun.
      Never touch. Children should never touch guns, even if they are trying to take it to an adult.
      Leave the area. After seeing the gun, kids should immediately leave the area. They should never try to stop someone from using the gun.
      Tell an adult. The last thing kids need to do after seeing a gun is to tell an adult immediately. Let adults handle the situation.

How to Properly Store Guns

The best way to keep guns out of the wrong hands is to store them properly. For instance, guns should be stored out of sight and in a locked safe in an unloaded state and separately from ammunition. The California General Attorney also recommends using both a locking safe and a firearm safety device.

Guns can be incredibly dangerous, but as long as they are handled and cared for properly, they can be safe. As long as parents take the proper precautions to store their firearms and teach kids how to respect guns and keep their distance, people can stay safe. That is all anyone wants.

What are your thoughts on California’s criminal storage of a firearm laws? Are the consequences of breaking this law fair, or do they need to be adjusted?

Are You Being Safe Online?

Are You Being Safe Online?

Are You Being Safe Online?

In the modern age, people are always being reminded of different ways to be safe while traversing the internet. A person never knows what they will run into online, or what private information they may be risking. While the majority of the most popular websites are safe and secure, every once in awhile someone manages to hack their way through the safety features.

As more and more people are forced into working or going to school from home, more people are on the internet for longer periods. With so much more free time on their hands and so many more targets, hackers are hard at work trying to find ways to mess with people. One form of trolling that is gaining popularity is referred to as zoombombing and it is greatly disrupting ongoing efforts to educate people during this pandemic.

What Is Zoombombing?

Zoombombing is the act of hacking into a private meeting and then disrupting said meeting with:

      Racist remarks
      Pornographic imagery
      Threatening violence

This is a very big problem for anyone trying to host private virtual meetings for work or school. The act gets its name because it largely happened on the video conferencing app Zoom.

The app’s popularity and usage skyrocketed in recent months as more and more people were placed on lockdown. The app provided a free way for people to conduct meetings for work and school.

There have been several incidents where a class is being held through the app and then someone gets in who shouldn’t have. They begin to spout inappropriate comments, share pornographic images, or even begin to expose their genitals for the entire class to see. Understandably, many users are very upset over this and several of the incidents have been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Both the FBI and Zoom have issued statements on the matter and are looking into things. Zoom offered some tips on how to keep their video calls secure.

How to Stay Safe Online

When it comes to something getting hacked, oftentimes it is because someone got a bit careless. One of the biggest problems is that people are either unaware of certain security features available on the app, or are simply forgetting to use them.

Many people assume they won’t get hacked simply because they’ve never been hacked before. This leads to them not taking the proper steps to secure something, which in turn makes it easier for someone else to hack into it.

Some of the basic features that zoom recommends its users take advantage of include:

  • Requiring a password to join a meeting. This makes it that much harder for someone to get into the meeting, especially if the password is a good one, not something simple like password or 1234.
  • Using a waiting room to screen who is trying to join the meeting. This way, anytime someone tries to join the meeting, they are placed in a separate room where they can’t interact with anyone until they are granted permission.
  • Set the meeting to private. This makes it so that only people who know about the meeting or know the host can find it online.
  • Don’t share the link to the meeting on any public forums or social media accounts. Even if an account is set to private, hackers can still stumble across it and begin attempting to gain access to the meeting.
  • Limit screen sharing to just the host. Doing this prevents anyone else from sharing images on their screen with others unless granted permission.

These are just some basic precautions that people can take when setting up online meetings to ensure that only the people they want in can gain access.

Keep the Meeting Secure

These are unprecedented times for a whole lot of people. While some people have been working and going to school online for years, not everyone has experienced it before. It is only natural that some people aren’t aware of all of the different safety features that are available to help keep their video calls private.

Hopefully, with more awareness of the problems, people will be able to take the proper precautions to keep their meetings private and prevent hackers from gaining access. This way, no one, especially minors, has to be exposed to any hate speech or sexually explicit material.

What are your thoughts on video conferences? Are they great alternatives to being together in person, or do you miss seeing everyone face to face? Are you taking the proper steps to keep your meetings secure?

Mail Theft Laws in the US

Mail Theft Laws in the US

Mail Theft Laws in the US

As people are forced to stay within their homes, many previously easy tasks have become a little more difficult and stressful. For instance, going grocery shopping is now a much bigger chore than it was a few months ago. One particular task that remains completely unchanged for some, and more difficult for others, is going to get the mail.

For those people who have a mailbox right outside their house, there hasn’t been much of a change. However, not everyone has a personal mailbox. A lot of people have PO boxes either at one single spot on the side of the road in their neighborhood or at a local post office. Checking these has become a little more difficult since they require going out in public.

Due to the lockdown, a lot of people are checking their PO boxes less frequently and crooks are aware of this. With more free time on their hands and a surplus of easy targets, crooks are stealing mail more and more during this lockdown.

The US Definition of Mail Theft

Mail theft is illegal both at the federal and state level here in California. Title 18 of United States Code 1708 defines the crime of mail theft for the entire country. In a very legalese way, the law states that anyone who takes or tampers with mail that isn’t addressed to them without permission from the recipient with the intent of committing a crime is guilty of mail theft and should be punished by a fine and no more than 5 years imprisonment.

Some of the acts that are included in this definition include:

  • Taking mail from someone’s mailbox.
  • Taking mail from the post office or a delivery vehicle.
  • Using fraud or deception to take someone else’s mail.
  • Opening someone else’s mail.
  • Taking the contents of someone else’s mail.
  • Destroying someone else’s mail.
  • Hiding someone else’s mail.
  • Buying or receiving known stolen mail.

Another important aspect that needs to be defined is what counts as mail. Under this law, the following can all be considered “mail:”

  • Letters.
  • Mailbags.
  • Packages.
  • Postcards.

Acts that aren’t considered mail theft include opening a loved one’s mail since family members usually have permission to open one another’s mail. Any time a person has permission from the recipient or isn’t intending to commit a crime, they aren’t guilty of mail theft.

California’s Mail Theft Law

Here in California, Penal Code (PC) 530.5e explains what counts as mail theft in the state and what the consequences of the crime will be. This law states that anyone guilty of mail theft, as described in Section 1708 of Title 18 of the US Code, is guilty of a public offense here in California.

If a person breaks into a community PO Box, then they are guilty of mail theft under federal law. The same holds for people who take packages off of porches. If a person does either of these or anything similar to this, then they will be guilty of mail theft here in California.

Mail theft is considered a misdemeanor crime here in California. The penalties for the crime are:

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

Don’t Let the Mail Pile Up

Dealing with lockdowns and daily life under this pandemic can be rough. Mail theft makes it all that much more annoying. The best way to avoid mail theft is to regularly check for mail. Don’t let it pile up in the box. Doing so could leave valuable personal information in a less than secure spot that crooks can easily access and then use to commit identity theft.

If a person has been a victim of mail theft, then they should report the incident to the local authorities right away. Despite the lockdowns, they are still out their protecting and serving in every way that they can.

What are your thoughts on mail theft and the laws surrounding it? Is the federal definition of the crime good enough? Are the consequences for committing mail theft here in California acceptable, or do they need to be readjusted? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in Vehicles?

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in Vehicles?

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in Vehicles?

Everyone knows that it is against the law to drink alcohol and then drive a vehicle. This law exists because drunk drivers are very dangerous. Due to the alcohol, the driver’s ability to react properly while driving is greatly impaired. Drunk drivers are more likely to make reckless decisions and are less capable of avoiding an accident. Roughly 30% of all traffic-related deaths in the US are caused by alcohol-impaired drivers.

It is easy to see why drivers are forbidden from consuming alcohol. However, this does leave some people with a question, can passengers drink in vehicles? After all, they aren’t driving so their impairment isn’t really important. The answer to this question might surprise a lot of Californians.

California’s Open Container Laws

The state of California has several different laws that pertain to drinking and driving. Some of these laws pertain to the act of driving under the influence (DUI), and some pertain to having open containers of alcohol in vehicles. Collectively this second group of laws is known as the state’s open container laws.

The first law in the group, California Vehicle Code (VC) 23221 makes it illegal for anyone, driver or passenger, to consume alcohol while in a motor vehicle on a highway. Before anyone gets too excited, in this instance, a highway is any roadway or place that is publicly maintained for vehicular travel. This definition includes all public roads and parking lots.

There is an exception to this law. In for-hire vehicles, such as limousines, passengers are allowed to consume alcohol within the vehicle provided there is a divider or partition between the driver and the passengers. This helps ensure that driver doesn’t drink anything and can continue to do their job safely.

However, even in for-hire vehicles, if a minor is present, then no one is allowed to drink alcohol. This is due to VC 23224, which prohibits any minor under the age of 21 from driving a car that contains any alcoholic beverages, regardless of if they are open or not. This law also prohibits minors from being a passenger in a vehicle while possessing alcohol. The only time minors can be transporting alcohol is when they are accompanied by a parent, a legal guardian, or are doing so for their job.

Open Container Penalties

Breaking one co California’s laws, in most cases, is an infraction level offense. This means that they come with some small fines, usually around $250, and no possibility of jail time. That is, as long as the person isn’t charged with anything else, such as DUI. If they are facing other charges, then they could end up paying more in fines and face some jail time. Just having an open container in a vehicle alone is not enough to warrant a person being sent to jail.

It is important to note that whoever possesses the open container in the vehicle is the one who will receive the ticket, not the driver.

However, things get a little more severe if the person being charged is a minor under the age of 21. In those instances, breaking an open container law gets raised to a misdemeanor offense. In these instances, a person will face:

  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • A 1 year driver’s license suspension.
  • Having the vehicle impounded for 30 days.

The state of California takes underage drinking very seriously, and so the consequences for a minor having an open container in their vehicle are more severe.

Don’t Drink While in Vehicles

While it doesn’t seem like it could be a problem, passengers are restricted from drinking in a vehicle just like drivers are. The idea is to prevent a driver from having the chance to consume any alcohol. This way, no one gets into an accident where someone could be severely hurt.

What are your thoughts on the state’s open container laws and how they relate to passengers and minors? Should passengers be allowed to consume alcohol in all vehicles, not just for hire ones? What about minors? Is it fair to give them harsher charges than the adults get for the same crime? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.