California’s Video Taping Laws

California’s Video Taping Laws

California’s Video Taping Laws

There was a time when no one worried about what would happen if they videotaped someone. Prior to cell phone cameras, it was nearly impossible for the average person to videotape someone without the person being taped knowing about it. Now that everyone has a video camera on their cell phone, many people have accidentally broken California’s laws regarding videotaping people without their consent.

Cell phone cameras made it possible to videotape people without that person’s consent. Social media makes it possible for us to share these tapes. The combination has created legal problems for many people.

According to the current laws, you are allowed to record a video of people without their consent, but only if you don’t pick up any bits of their conversation. The state doesn’t have a problem with you capturing their image, just their words. If you want to record the conversation, you’ll have to get their consent. This consent should be written so that if the person does decide to sue, you can prove your case.

The one exception to this is if you’re in a busy place, such as a coffee shop. If you’re recording something and accidentally pick up bits of a conversation, you aren’t breaking any laws. The idea is that the person involved in the conversation was in a public area and therefore shouldn’t have expected complete privacy. The trick is proving that you weren’t deliberately trying to capture the snippet of conversation.

You do not want to be accused of recording someone’s conversation in California. The state is very serious when it comes to punishing people who don’t first get consent. The issue is addressed in California Penal Code § 632(a).

The worse thing about taking an audio recording of someone without their consent is that you can’t use it as part of your defense. For example, if you recorded the person because you wanted to prove to your boss that they were bullying you, not only can you not use the recording, but you’ll also find yourself in the middle of a legal battle that you likely won’t win.

The penalty for violating the recording an audio recording of a conversation can include a year in jail and a $2,500.
It is important to note that using your camera to take a quick video of someone in a public setting is completely different than conducting video surveillance on them.

California’s Peeping Tom Laws

California’s Peeping Tom Laws

California’s Peeping Tom Laws

The problem with California’s “Peeping Tom” laws is that they aren’t written as clearly as they should be. There is a great deal of room for interpretation which makes the case difficult for both sides to prove.

Peeping Tom laws are covered in California Penal Code Section 647(i) PC. The code states that a peeping Tom is anyone who;

(i) Who, while loitering, prowling, or wandering upon the private property of another, at any time, peeks in the door or window of any inhabited building or structure, without visible or lawful business with the owner or occupant.

(j) (1) A person who looks through a hole or opening, into, or otherwise views, by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera, camcorder, mobile phone, electronic device, or unmanned aircraft system, the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside. This subdivision does not apply to those areas of a private business used to count currency or other negotiable instruments.

(2) A person who uses a concealed camcorder, motion picture camera, or photographic camera of any type, to secretly videotape, film, photograph, or record by electronic means, another identifiable person under or through the clothing being worn by that other person, for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person, without the consent or knowledge of that other person, with the intent to arouse, appeal to, or gratify the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person and invade the privacy of that other person, under circumstances in which the other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. For the purposes of this paragraph, “identifiable” means capable of identification, or capable of being recognized, meaning that someone, including the victim, could identify or recognize the victim. It does not require the victim’s identity to actually be established.

(3) (A) A person who uses a concealed camcorder, motion picture camera, or photographic camera of any type, to secretly videotape, film, photograph, or record by electronic means, another identifiable person who may be in a state of full or partial undress, for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person, without the consent or knowledge of that other person, in the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which that other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of that other person. For the purposes of this paragraph, “identifiable” means capable of identification, or capable of being recognized, meaning that someone, including the victim, could identify or recognize the victim. It does not require the victim’s identity to actually be established.”

While the law is pretty clear when it comes to cameras and surveillance, things get murky when peeping without a camera is discussed.
The problem with the way the code is written is that if someone notices a bill collector, family member, friend hanging around their house, or the house of a neighbor, they can assume that the frequency the person stops in means they’re up to no good. On more than one occasion this has resulted in someone being arrested and charged as a Peeping Tom.

If you have to go to someone’s house with any frequency and are worried about someone considering the way you’re behaving to be in the same manner as a Peeping Tom, it is in your best interest to bring a friend. They’ll serve as your witness. You should also document your visits and be ready and able to explain why you’re on the property with such frequency.

Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel in California

Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel in California

Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel in California

We’ve all done it. Gotten behind the wheel and driven when we were tired. Most of the time rolling down the window, cranking up the radio, and indulging in a massive amount of caffeine is enough to get us safely where we need to be. The problem is that some people don’t make it to their destination. Some people fall asleep while they’re behind the wheel and find themselves in serious legal trouble.

The Dangers of Falling Asleep While Driving

People constantly warn us about driving while intoxicated. We know it’s dangerous and know that it’s a serious traffic offense. People rarely discuss the fact that driving while fatigued is equally dangerous. In most cases driving is monotonous. It’s so easy to let your eyes close for a second. That’s all it takes for us to fall asleep and get into a bad accident.

If you’ve ever driven while drowsy you’re not alone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that approximately 100,000 police-reported car accidents involved drowsy driving. It’s estimated that 72,000 of those accidents led to severe injuries and that 1,600 involved fatalities.

How California Handles Drowsy Driving Cases

Each time you get behind the wheel of your car, you’re entering into an unspoken, but legally binding contract with everyone that you’re fit for driving. Getting behind the wheel means that you plan on following all posted traffic laws, that you’ll stay alert, and that you’ll drive defensively. This means you won’t be distracted, you’re not intoxicated, and you’re not fatigued.

Failing to keep up your end of the agreement results in traffic tickets and possibly jail time.

If you’re caught driving while drowsy in California, at best, you’ll get a ticket for reckless driving. According to the state, you’re driving recklessly any time you, “drive any vehicle in a manner that exhibits willful or wanton disregard for the well-being of others on the roadway.” The state considers falling asleep and an example of willful or wanton disregard.

If you’re caught driving while drowsy, the best you can hope for is a traffic ticket that will cost you $145. That’s the best-case scenario. If you caused an accident, injured someone, created an intensely dangerous situation, or did a great deal of damage to someone else’s property, the consequences will be much more severe. The state has the option of sentencing you to 90 days in jail and charging you with a $1,000 fine.

Depending on your driving record, the driving while drowsy episode could result in you losing your license. If you injured or killed someone, you could face both manslaughter charges and a civil lawsuit.

The next time you think about driving while exhausted, you should reconsider and take a nap instead.

California’s Attitude Toward Vandalism

California’s Attitude Toward Vandalism

California’s Attitude Toward Vandalism

Vandalism is often an act of passion. Most of us are angry or hurt. We want to strike back at the person we believe treated us badly. We might choose to do this by smashing their mailbox, spray painting a crude message on the side of their house, or slashing their tires.

Normally, we feel better about the vandalism… until the police knock on our door.

The problem with vandalism is that the victim almost always has a pretty good idea of who was responsible. If they’ve recently argued with, broken up with, or aggravated someone they usually tell the police about the incident. The personal nature of the crime means that you’re likely to get caught.

What California Considers Vandalism

You might think that smashing someone’s mailbox is an act of just revenge. The state disagrees. They consider an act of property damage that was triggered by malicious intent to be vandalism. That includes:

✦ Keying someone’s car
✦ Smashing a window with a baseball bat
✦ Painting graffiti on a building
✦ Covering someone’s front door with bumper stickers
✦ Etc.

The issue of vandalism is addressed in California’s Penal Code 594. It defines a vandal as, “Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism: (1) defacing with graffiti or other inscribed material. (2) damaging (3) destroying.”

While you and your friends might think the vandalism is funny and appropriate, you shouldn’t count on the state having the same attitude.

How California Handles Vandalism

If you’re charged with vandalism in California, you want it to be a misdemeanor and not a felony. The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor vandalism charge in the state is 364 days in county jail and could include a $10,000 fine. In many cases, the judge opts for a smaller fine, restitution, and community service. For the vandalism to be considered a misdemeanor, you can’t have done more than $400 worth of property damage.

If your act of vandalism created more than $400 worth of damage, you’re facing felony charges. Not only will they have a negative impact on your ability to find a job, but you’re also facing a maximum sentence that includes 3 years in a California state prison and a $10,000 fine.

Considering the potential severity of a vandalism charge, the next time you’re angry with someone, you should simply sit tight until the urge to take out your frustration on their personal property fades.

What is Housing Discrimination

What is Housing Discrimination

What is Housing Discrimination

I
t is incredibly difficult to find affordable housing in California. The average price of a home in California is $600,000 which is double the national average.

There are several reasons for the housing crisis, including:

✦ The number of homes/apartment buildings that have been destroyed by wildfires in recent years
✦ High construction costs
✦ A discrepancy between the average wage and the average cost of a home
✦ Not enough construction companies/workers
✦ Lack of housing subsidies

The situation is so bad that some California residents who make middle wage or lower report that they have spent 3-5 years trying to find an apartment.

The Role Housing Discrimination Plays in California

In an attempt to keep a roof over as many heads as possible, California lawmakers have passed housing discrimination laws. These laws are very similar to many workplace discrimination laws. The housing discrimination laws prevent landlords and real estate companies from using someone’s sex, sexual preference, race, religion, marital status, or disability when determining who should and shouldn’t be allowed to live in a particular property.

The housing discrimination laws specifically prevent landlords/real estate agents from:

✦ Openly using personal discrimination as a reason for refusing to lease, sell, or rent to a person
✦ Being so biased that they’re unwilling to negotiate with an interested party
✦ Learning a person’s gender/age/race and suddenly deciding that a unit is no longer available
✦ Using personal bias as a reason to provide inferior living conditions
✦ Behaving in a harassing manner

Do the Housing Discrimination Laws Work

It’s difficult to determine just how effective California’s housing discrimination laws are. While they likely prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant because of race, there’s no way to tell if a prejudice against a tenant’s race/sex/marital status/gender doesn’t cause the landlord to seek out a reason to evict the person or to reject someone else’s application.

How to Handle Housing Discrimination

If you feel that you have been the victim of housing discrimination, it’s in your best interest to take a proactive stance. The first thing you need to do is record everything that happened to you, particularly the episodes/conversations that made you feel like you were being discriminated against.

Once you have collected your evidence, approach a knowledgeable lawyer, and ask for their help. Not only will they determine whether you have a housing discrimination case, but they’ll also offer advice about how you should proceed.

Unwritten Camping Rules to Remember

Unwritten Camping Rules to Remember

Unwritten Camping Rules to Remember

C
amping is wonderful. Camping provides you with the means to connect to the earth and nature while also bonding with family and friends. The best thing about camping is all the great memories you collect during each camping trip.

The next time you’re about to hit the woods for an epic camping trip, keep these unwritten camping rules in mind.

Leave Your Site Better than you Found It

It doesn’t matter if you’re a slob at home when you’re camping, you need to turn into a neat freak. Commit yourself to keeping each place you pitch your camp cleaner than when you found it. Not only does this ensure that the next set of campers who come along will also have a nice place to set up camp, but it also proves that you are environmentally aware.

Keeping the campsites cleaner than how you found it includes cleaning up after your pets.

Don’t Leave the Fire Burning

California has had more than its fair share of fires. The last thing you want is to be the cause of the next wildfire. Making sure you douse the fire whenever you’re not sitting in front of is important. It’s a good idea to throw some water over the fire pit so that there’s no risk of a stray spark setting off a big blaze.

When you’re camping, take a little while to study your campsite. If the area is full of dry leaves, underbrush, and grass, hold off on starting a fire. If a spark jumps out of your fire pit and sets some of the dry matter on fire, the entire campsite will go up in flames before you have time to spring into action.

The Camp Bathroom isn’t your Kitchen

A surprising number of people who use campgrounds treat the campground’s bathroom like it’s their kitchen. They actually use the sink to wash their dishes. If you’ve never done this, great! If you have, make sure you don’t do it again. Not only is the practice a health hazard, but it can also play havoc on the campgrounds plumbing system and it’s rude to other guests.

Be Respectful While Camping

You’re on a great camping experience and want to have a good time, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your good manners at home. If you’re using a campground, you need to be respectful. That includes things like:

✦ Not walking across someone else’s campsite
✦ Staying calm and quiet during the night
✦ Using low lights
✦ Keeping your pets and your kids under control

Following these simple unwritten rules of camping will increase the amount of enjoyment you get on your next camping adventure.

Will the Police Cite me for Not Wearing a Mask When Shopping?

Will the Police Cite me for Not Wearing a Mask When Shopping?

Will the Police Cite me for Not Wearing a Mask When Shopping?

Covid-19 has brought about many changes. One of the newest additions to our lives is the wearing of face masks while in public.

Why are Face Masks Required in California

The hope is that wearing masks will slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The idea is that the masks keep the droplets contained to a single person. California lawmakers are urging residents to wear a mask whenever they’re shopping. The problem is that there is conflicting information regarding the effectiveness of face masks. The result of the conflict is that while some people happily don a mask each time they go out, others refuse to wear them.
The debate over wearing facemasks has led many people to wonder if the police will issue citations to those who don’t wear a mask while shopping.
When are Face Masks Required

According to the State of California, masks should be worn whenever:

✦ You’re in an indoor public area
✦ You’re obtaining medical services, such as dental appointments and donating blood
✦ You’re using some form of public transportation, in a taxi, or utilizing a rideshare program
✦ When you’re in an area that is heavily used by multiple people
✦ Interacting directly with people
Many California cities and counties have created additional laws that pertain to face masks.

Will the Police Cite you for Not Wearing a Mask While Shopping

People who are good about wearing a mask whenever they’re out and about don’t worry about police citations while they’re shopping. Those who don’t can’t stop wondering if they can issue a ticket for failing to cover the face. There were some counties that took a much firmer stance. Not only did they tell their local officers that they should issue citations to anyone who wasn’t wearing a mask, but they also attached a fine to the citation. Riverside County was one such place that decided that failing to wear a mask while shopping could result in a $1,000 fine.

The sheer number of people who were neglecting to wear a mask while shopping combined with reports of people getting verbally attacked when they asked someone to put a mask on has resulted in Governor Gavin Newsom has tightened up on the issue of masks.
He recently issued this statement. “Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease.

California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing.”-Los Angeles Times
Newson’s recent changes. At this point, it’s likely that the police won’t hand out many citations to those who fail to wear a mask while shopping, they feel that their services are needed elsewhere. That could change if the daily number of new COVID-19 cases starts to rapidly increase.

California’s Regulations Regarding Car Seats

California’s Regulations Regarding Car Seats

California’s Regulations Regarding Car Seats

All parents know that infants should be contained in a car seat, however not all parents know what California’s laws are regarding car seats.

Infants and Car Seats

Any child that is two or under must be confined to a rear-facing car seat while they are in a vehicle. Failing to have your child properly secured in a car seat will result in a $500 fine and a point getting added to your driving record. Don’t assume that just because your child has passed their second birthday that it’s time to change their car seat. The law also states that the child needs to be at least 40 inches tall and or weigh at least 40 pounds before they graduate to a different type of car seat.

Car Seat for Children who are Between the Ages of 2 and 8

If your child has already celebrated their second birthday and also meets the height and weight requirements, you’re allowed to replace their rear-facing car seat for a front-facing model. California lawmakers won’t prevent you from making this transition, but they do want you to understand that the rear-facing car seats are considered 500% safer than the front-facing models.
The car seat should always be secured in the back seat unless there is a reason the back seat is considered unsafe or isn’t designed in a way that allows the car seat to be safely installed in space.

Transitioning from Car Seat to Booster Sea

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There is no set age when your child can officially move out of their car seat and into a booster seat. California’s child car seat laws state that the transition can happen once your child has reached a height or weight that exceeds the limits of your front-facing car seat. In most cases, the child will be about 65 pounds. There are no requirements about the type of booster seat your child uses, though it does have to be a seat that can be safely installed in the car.
Your child is allowed to move out of the booster seat when they turn 8 or when they reach a height of 4’9”.

Make Sure the Car Seat is Properly Installed

An improperly installed car seat is nearly as dangerous as driving around without your child in a car seat. Don’t assume that you know what you’re doing. Whenever you get a new car seat or a new car, it’s in your best interest to take the entire setup to your nearest police station. One of the officers will happily examine the car seat and make sure it’s properly installed.

Rather than moving the car seat from one car to another, you should keep a car seat in each vehicle. Not taking the seat in and out of different vehicles not only extends the life of the car seat but also reduces the risk of it not getting installed properly.

You owe it to your child to stay abreast of the latest California laws pertaining to car seats.

California Gun Control Laws

California Gun Control Laws

California Gun Control Laws

Gun control is a very hot topic here in the United States, especially whenever a tragedy strikes. When these tragedies occur, everyone begins to reexamine the laws in the area to try and figure out if something could have been done to prevent it from ever occurring.

Here in the California, residents face some of the strictest gun control laws in the entire nation. The idea is to keep guns out of the hands of people who would hurt others with the firearms while still allowing law abiding citizens to possess them.

California’s Gun-Related Laws

The state of California literally has dozens of laws surrounding the topic of gun use and ownership. In order to own a gun, a person has to be over the age of 21, pass a background check, not have any certain prior convictions or felonies, and buy the gun and ammo from a licensed vendor. The following Penal Codes (PC) are some of the numerous gun control laws present here in the state of California.

  • PC 171c makes it a crime to bring a loaded firearm into a government building.
  • PC 171.5 makes it a crime to bring a loaded firearm into airports and passenger terminals.
  • PC 245a2 makes it illegal to assault someone with a firearm.
  • PC 246 makes it a crime to shoot a firearm at an inhabited building or vehicle.
  • PC 247b makes it a crime to shoot a firearm at an uninhabited building or vehicle.
  • PC 417 makes it illegal to brandish a weapon in a public place. This applies to all weapons, not just firearms.
  • PC 626.9 is California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act. This law prohibits anyone from possessing or discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet from a public or private school.
  • PC 12022 is a sentence modifier law that allows for additional consequences to be added to any felony punishment where the crime involved a firearm.
  • PC 16590 bans “generally prohibited weapons.”
  • PC 22610 lists who can legally own a stun gun, which is most people who haven’t been convicted of certain crimes.
  • PC 25400 makes it a crime to knowingly carry a concealed, loaded firearm.
  • PC 25850 makes it a crime to carry a loaded firearm in public.
  • PC 26150 allows the county sheriff to issue permits to carry a weapon that could be concealed on a person. Basically the permits allows a person to carry smaller fire arms. The person must prove they are of good moral character, they have a good reason for wanting the permit, they are a resident of that particular city, and have completed a prescribed firearm training.
  • PC 26155 allows heads of police departments to issue permits to carry a weapon that could be concealed on a person. Basically the permits allows a person to carry smaller fire arms. The person must prove they are of good moral character, they have a good reason for wanting the permit, they are a resident of that particular city, and have completed a prescribed firearm training.
  • PC 26500 makes it a misdemeanor to sell, lease, or transfer a firearm without a license to do so.
  • PC 26700 lists the requirements to become a licensed dealer of firearms.
  • PC 29800 prevents convicted felons, people convicted of specific misdemeanors, and people addicted to narcotics from owning a gun.
  • PC 29810 requires that anyone convicted of certain crimes relinquish their firearms to the authorities. This is for most felonies and includes a few misdemeanors as well.
  • PC 29900 makes it illegal for a person to own a gun if they committed or attempted to commit a violent offense.
  • PC 30315 makes it a crime to own armor piercing ammunition.
  • PC 30600 bans assault weapons and rifles.
  • PC 33410 makes it a felony to own a silencer.

There Are a Lot

The state of California has a lot of laws surrounding the use and ownership of firearms in the hopes that these laws will prevent gun violence from happening. Unfortunately, all of these laws don’t always work out, which is why law makers and people all over the state begin to consider new ways to try to keep people safe after a tragedy has occurred.

Criminal Threat Laws in California

Criminal Threat Laws in California

Criminal Threat Laws in California

No one likes to be scared, and making threats against someone is a sure fire way to scare them. It doesn’t really matter if the person making the threat ever intended to actually carry out the threat as long as the victim believed him or her. The person being threatened may not know that the threat is a joke, or just a scare tactic, and so they get scared.

Making threats, fake or not, is a great way to cause trouble, which is why it is a crime here in California to make criminal threats. Despite this, there seems to have been a bit of a rise in criminal threats over the last few years. To make matters worse, many of these threats have been aimed toward schools.

California Penal Code 422

Here in the state of California, the act of making a criminal threat is defined and made illegal under Penal Code (PC) 422. A criminal threat is defined as when a person threatens to commit a crime against another individual that will result in death or great bodily harm. Furthermore, a threat is considered criminal when:

  • The threatened individual is put into a state of reasonably sustained fear,
  • The threat is specific and leaves no doubt in the victim’s mind,
  • The threat was verbal or written.

As far as the law here in the state is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether or not the person intended to carry out the threat. All that matter was whether or not the victim was scared, and had reason to be, by the threat.

An example of making a criminal threat would be posting a picture of a gun and a backpack alongside a caption warning people at a school to be careful. Sadly, in today’s world, that threat has enough credibility in it to cause people to panic and worry. That is why law enforcement agencies always take these sort of threats seriously.

If someone ever sees this kind of threat online, they should immediately notify the local police or sheriffs. If you see something, say something. Doing so can help protect a lot of people from harm, or worse.

Penalties for Breaking PC 422

PC 422 is what is known as a wobbler offense. This means that it can either be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony depending on the facts of the case and the person’s criminal record.

When charged as a misdemeanor, a person faces:

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

When charged as a felony, a person faces:

  • Up to 3 years in state prison.
  • A max fine of $10,000.

If a person uses a deadly or dangerous weapon to communicate the threat, such as a gun, they can face an additional year added to their sentence.

If threats are made multiples times or to multiple people, the person can face the above charges for each threat or person they threatened. This means that the consequences for criminal threats can very quickly become severe.

On top of this, a felony count of making criminal threats counts under California’s Three Strikes Law as a serious felony. This means that a person will have to serve 85% of their sentence before they can be released. This strike will follow the person for the rest of their life, and if they are ever charged with another felony, the sentence for that charge will be doubled. If they are charged with a third felony, they will face a mandatory 25 years to life in prison.

Making criminal threats is considered a crime of moral turpitude. This simply means that it is an act that violates the sentiment or accepted standards of the community. Due to this, the crime can also lead to professional discipline, which means consequences in the person’s workplace, and deportation.

Don’t Make Threats

No one ever wants to be scared, and making threats against someone can be very scary for the victim. This is especially true when the threat involves harming kids at school. That is something that no child or parent should ever have to worry about. As such, those kinds of threats are always taken seriously by law enforcement agencies, regardless if the threat was real or not, or who made the threat. Jokes like that are never funny.

What do you think of California’s take on criminal threats? Do the consequences match the crime, or should they be readjusted?