What Are Your Rights When a Tenant Will Not Move Out of Your Home?

Squatting in California

Squatting in California

There is a housing problem in California. The state has more people who need a home than there are affordable rental options available. The shortage of available housing is likely why there seems to have been an increase in “squatting” cases.

What is Squatting?

Squatting is a slang term that’s used to describe the practice of moving into a living space, such as an empty apartment, and using it as a residence. Squatting is the common term. The formal term the California court system likes to use is adverse possession.

While it’s usually easy to determine that the person who has taken up residence is a squatter, figuring out both the squatter’s and property owner’s actual legal rights is complicated.

The interesting thing about squatting is that it’s not an actual crime. The only time legal charges are filed against the squatter is if the property owner can prove that the squatters are guilty of trespassing.

A property owner can file a civil lawsuit against a squatter, which they can use to recoup lost rent, property damage, and even some legal fees.

Squatters can Claim Ownership

The last thing a property owner wants to do is ignore anyone who is squatting on their property. The sooner the owner acts, the better. In California, if a person has taken “adverse possession” of a property and the legal owner does nothing to remove them from the property, the squatter becomes the new legal owner. In California, five years is the length of time a squatter has to stay on the property before they can own it.

Moving a Squatter Off Your Property

Moving a squatter, especially if the squatter is a tenant who simply refused to move out after their lease ran out, isn’t easy.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to file an eviction notice. While the squatter might ignore the order, it does establish legal documentation that shows you don’t want the person residing on your property.

If the date listed on the eviction notice has passed but the squatters are still in residence on your property, you will have to file a civil lawsuit. The burden of proof will rest on you. You’ll have to prove that you didn’t want them residing on your property and that they’ve failed to pay rent or adhere to a rental contract. The judge will want to see a copy of the eviction notice you filed.

Once you’ve won the civil lawsuit, you’ll be able to have the police help you remove the squatter from your property.

It’s very important to enlist the experience of a good lawyer through every step of this process.

Finding Out If A Person Has An Arrest Warrant

How to Handle a False Accusation

How to Handle a False Accusation

One second,you’re going about your regular life, the next you’re dealing with the legal fallout from being falsely accused of a crime you didn’t commit. Just like that, you’re living everyones’ worst nightmare. It’s difficult to know what you should do or who you should turn to.

Stay Calm

The most important thing you can do in this situation is to stay calm. Resist the urge to panic. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that as long as you keep a cool head and stay on the straight and narrow, you have the ability to remove yourself from this horrible situation.

Don’t make any accusations. Don’t threaten anyone. Don’t lose your temper. Doing any of these things could result in you getting into even bigger trouble and potentially having some real charges filed against you.

Hire a Good Lawyer

Don’t talk to the police, at least not while you’re by yourself. Don’t assume that just because you’re innocent, that you have nothing to worry about. It’s in your best interest to hire a good lawyer. Talk only to your lawyer and let them handle the situation.

You Might Need to Launch Your Own Investigation

More often than not, false accusations are cleared up quite quickly, but if they’re not, you should be prepared to launch and independent investigation. Don’t try doing this on your own. Instead of doing your own snooping, hire an experienced PI who can get to the bottom of your case quicker and safer than you. At this point, the only role you play in the investigation is answering the PI’s questions.

Each case of false accusation is different. Sometimes the issue is resolved right away. Sometimes it takes a while before the truth is revealed. No matter how long it takes, it’s important that you stay calm and don’t do anything that could potentially harm your case.

If it turns out that the person who made the false accusation did so on purpose and deliberately slandered your character, you have the option to open a civil case against them. The civil case provides you with an opportunity to regain both punitive and comprehensive damages you sustained as a direct result of the false accusation. You lawyer can help you decide how you should proceed.

Statutory Rape Laws and Charges

Statutory Rape Laws and Charges

Statutory Rape Laws and Charges

Teenagers are full of two things. Hormones and emotions. The combination causes them to make questionable life choices, which includes engaging in sex. When parents learn that their teenage child has become sexually active they often find themselves worrying if their child can be charged with statutory rape.

Recent changes to California’s laws about sex with minors have made the issue even more confusing than it is in some other states.

What is Statutory Rape?

Strictly speaking, statutory rape has nothing to do about sexual consent. In statutory rape cases, both parties are usually willing. These cases aren’t about the willingness of both partners but whether they’re able to cope with the emotional and physical ramifications that go hand in hand with a sexual relationship.

According to the law, statutory rape takes place when someone has sex with a minor, who is otherwise referred to as a person who hasn’t reached the age of consent.

Is it Possible for a Minor to be Charged with Statutory Rape?

The question of whether it’s possible for two minors to be accused of statutory rape doesn’t have a clear legal answer.
According to California Penal Code Section 261.5, statutory rape takes place whenever someone has sex with someone who hasn’t reached their eighteenth birthday. According to that, if a sixteen-year-old couple decides to have sex, both of them can be charged with statutory rape.

The problem is that for the charges to stick, the court has to determine which member of the couple is the victim and which is the aggressor, something that’s nearly impossible to do when both are minors. Due to the legal complexities of the situation, the charges are usually dropped and the court lets the parents decide how to handle the matter.

Penalties for Statutory Rape in California

Statutory rape charges in California are a serious matter. Statutory rape is one of the state’s many famous wobbler offenses. No two cases are handled the same way, which can make it difficult to guess what the final results will be. The most extreme cases can result in a sentence that includes 3 years in jail as well as a $10,000 fine.

Sometimes the court requires that the defendant register as a sex offender, but there are also situations where that hasn’t happened. It largely depends on the age of the two people involved in the case as well as the type of relationship they’re engaged in.

The best way to make sure you never have to unravel the complexities of statutory rape is by making sure your sexual partner is always over 18 years old.

Halloween During Pandemic in California

Halloween During Pandemic in California

Halloween During Pandemic in California

Halloween is right around the corner. It’s one of those holidays that kids look forward to all year long. It’s not uncommon for kids to spend months working on a Halloween costume and planning their trick-or-treating route.

Safety and Halloween

Every single year, the news is always full of stories about people wondering if traditional trick-or-treating is safe. Concerning issues include the potential to bring poisoned candy into the house, getting hit by a car, or getting kidnapped. This year has the added complication of COVID-19.

Is it Safe to Trick-or-Treat?

The good news is that Halloween hasn’t been officially canceled in California, but lawmakers and members of the medical community are concerned. Officially they are asking people to skip the tradition of trick-or-treating this year, but they have also stated that they’re leaving the final decision to the parents.

What Should You Do

No one can tell you if you should stay at home this Halloween or if you should go trick-or-treating, you need to decide what your personal comfort levels are. If you do decide to go, there are a few things you can do.

✦ Use a pair of tongs to select candy from dishes/buckets
✦ Set a limit on the number of houses you’ll visit
✦ Have your kids wear gloves and face mask while trick-or-treating
✦ Limit your trick-or-treating to your own social circle.
✦ Have your kids use hand sanitizer after each house

When you get home, have your kids change their clothing and thoroughly wash their hands. It wouldn’t hurt to let their bucket of candy sit for a few days, giving any COVID-19 germs a chance to die before they infect your family.

Don’t get so wrapped up in the idea of keeping your kids safe from COVID-19 during Halloween that you forget other trick-or-treating safety maneuvers. Make sure you’re kids are decked out in reflective clothing, that they stick close to you, and that you inspect each piece of candy for tampering when you get home.

If you’re a fan of trunk-or-treating, this might be a good year to skip the trend, particularly if the event takes place indoors. The smaller space and higher volume of trick-or-treaters increases the risk of you contracting COVID-19. If you do decide to go to a trunk-or-treat event, look for one that’s outdoors.

If you decide that you don’t want to go out for Halloween, try to look for something fun you can do in your own home so your kids don’t think they’re missing out on something. Maybe through a small Halloween party that only includes your own family, or hide candy and make finding it a scavenger hunt. The important thing is to keep your kids both healthy and safe during these strange times.

Happy Halloween and stay safe!

False Accusations in California

False Accusations in California

False Accusations in California

Being falsely accused of a crime is many people’s biggest fears. The chances of false accusations increase when relationships end. Too often, one person feels betrayed or hurt and decides that the best way to get back at their former lover is lying about criminal activity or abuse. In many situations, these types of cases also involve a custody dispute with children.

If you are considering falsely accusing someone of a crime, there are some things you should understand beforehand.

The Court will Look at Intent

If you’re caught making false criminal accusations against someone, the first thing the prosecutor does is look at what you were thinking when you originally filed the charges.

In a vast majority of the cases, the person filing the charges doesn’t hold any malice towards the person they filed charges against. They honestly believed that the person was engaged in criminal behavior. In this situation, it’s unlikely that the court will take any action.

On the other end, if an investigation reveals that you had no real basis for filing the complaint or that you did so for malicious reasons, it’s likely that the prosecutor will launch a case against you.

The reason the prosecutor doesn’t file a false accusation case against every person who accidentally reports a crime that didn’t happen is because they don’t want to discourage people from taking their concerns to the police. Every single person involved in the judicial system would rather have people coming in to report the possibility of a crime than having people turn a blind eye to crimes that are in process.

How False Charges are Typically Handled in California

In most cases, deliberately filing a false report is a misdemeanor. If found guilty the maximum sentence is 12 months in jail, but that might not be where the story ends. In addition to the judicial system launching a legal case against you, the person you falsely accused has the option to file a civil lawsuit against you. During the civil case, they’re free to pursue both punitive and compensatory damages that you’ll have to pay if the judge rules in their favor.

Worst of all, being found guilty of filing a false claim could haunt you for the rest of your life.

If you’re angry with someone, don’t try to make their life complicated by running to the police with a fake story of criminal activity. Instead, you should take some time to cool down and then think of a better way to handle the situation.

On the other hand, if you see suspicious activity, feel free to take your concerns to the police and let them investigate the situation.

When is a Real Estate Deal Considered Real Estate Fraud

When is a Real Estate Deal Considered Real Estate Fraud

When is a Real Estate Deal Considered Real Estate Fraud

Buying and selling property is a way of life in California. People are constantly moving. Most of the time, the process goes smoothly and everything is kept above board, but every once in awhile a deal goes sour. The challenge many buyers (and even sellers) struggle with is knowing when a real estate deal simply doesn’t go as planned and when they’ve been the victim of real estate fraud.

According to California lawmakers, real estate fraud takes place when one of the parties involved in a real estate transaction knowingly commits fraud while conducting some sort of real estate transaction.

In California, real estate fraud includes:

✦ Forged deeds
✦ Breaking foreclosure fraud statutes
✦ Falsely representing a property
✦ Breaking rent skimming laws

In California, the most common forms of real estate fraud include:

✦ Straw buyer schemes
✦ Illegal property flipping
✦ Mortgage fraud
✦ Foreclosure fraud

Different types of real estate fraud are handled by different sections of California’s penal code. For example, someone who is found guilty of committing a rent skimming scheme has violated Civil Code 890. Someone who violates Penal Code 115 is guilty of filing forged real estate documents.

Grand Theft Real Estate Fraud

A stunning number of the real estate fraud cases that make their way into the California court system involve grand theft real estate fraud. According to California Penal Code 532 PC, this type of real estate fraud involves the seller (or real estate agent) deliberately misrepresenting the property.
To be found guilty of grand theft real estate fraud, the seller must have deliberately misrepresented the property. Examples of this include:

✦ Lying about property lines
✦ Hiding important information that was discovered during a home inspection
✦ Showing a different property than the one listed in the paperwork the buyer signed
✦ Not telling about contracts, such as rental agreements or easements, connected to the property

There have been some situations where a buyer was actually convicted of grand theft property fraud. These cases usually involved the seller lying about the property that prompted the buyer to quickly sell the property for far less than it was worth.

Strictly speaking, California’s real estate fraud cases that involve grand theft by false pretenses are wobbler laws, but in most situations, cases involving real estate are considered felonies since they usually involve more than $950.

If you’re found guilty of felony grand theft real estate fraud, you could face spending three years in prison.

Do You Have to Post Bail in California

California’s Wobbler Laws

California’s Wobbler Laws

It’s not uncommon to look up a crime, such as disturbing the peace, and see that it is one of California’s wobbler laws. If you’re confused by the use of the word wobbler, you’re not alone. Few people who aren’t directly involved with California’s judicial process understand exactly what wobbler laws are.

How California’s Wobbler Laws Work

Wobbler laws aren’t complicated. Seeing the word wobbler attached to an offense simply means that the prosecution has an option. They have the luxury of charging the defendant with either a felony or a misdemeanor.

In most cases, the amount of damage the defendant has done determines which way the charge wobbles. For example, if you’re charged with a hit and run accident that only involved property damage, you’ll face misdemeanor charges. However, if someone was hurt or killed in that hit and run accident, you’re facing felony charges.

Examples of California’s Wobbler Laws

California has many laws that are considered wobbler laws, including:

✦ Hit and run accidents
✦ Forgery
✦ Grand theft
✦ Trespassing
✦ Burglary
✦ Making criminal threats
✦ Some sex crimes
✦ Some assault crimes
✦ Stalking
✦ Carrying a loaded firearm in public
✦ Etc.

If you’re only charged with a misdemeanor you’ll only face time in a county jail instead of a state prison and likely be charged a significantly smaller fine.

Benefits of California’s Wobbler Laws

If you’ve only committed the misdemeanor version of one of California’s wobbler crimes, the fact that the crime can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor won’t have much impact on your immediate future. However, if you’ve been charged with a felony, the wobbler status could prove to be massively beneficial. Having the ability to drop the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor gives the prosecution some maneuverability when it comes to offering deals and incentives. If you have committed a crime that the state considers a straight felony, there isn’t much that can be done to help you avoid prison time and massive felonies.

There are four clear points in time when the prosecutor who is dealing with your case can opt to decrease your felony wobbler crime to a misdemeanor. These points are:

✦ When the charges are initially filed
✦ During the felony preliminary hearing
✦ During the sentencing
✦ Following the completion of felony probation

A good defense lawyer will help you determine how you can convince the prosecution to change a felony charge to a misdemeanor charge.

Hitchhiking in California

Hitchhiking in California

Hitchhiking in California

Signs warning drivers about the dangers of picking up hitchhikers litter the sides of California’s highways. Upon seeing these signs, most of us assume that we’re close to one of the state’s prisons and that cops are worried that a hitchhiker could be an escaped convict. Few of us know that the reason there are so many signs warning about hitchhikers scattered along California’s immense span network of highways is because hitchhiking is actually illegal.

The issue of hitchhiking is addressed in CA Veh Code § 21957 (2018)21957. The law states that “No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of any vehicle.”

Clearly, the law doesn’t want anyone hitchhiking, but what if you’re vehicle has broken down and you need a ride into town? Are you supposed to walk the whole way? And what if you pick up a hitchhiker?

It’s obvious that the law was created to discourage hitchhiking, but it’s the lanquage you want to pay particular attention to. It states that you can’t stand in the middle of the road and try to flag oncoming traffic down and asking for a ride. If one of California’s highway patrol officers catches you doing so, they’ll likely stop and ask you to move off the road. They might even issue a ticket.

However, according to the strict language of the law, you are free to stand on the shoulder of the road and attempt to flag down an approaching vehicle. The trick is, you have to do it in such a way that you’re not disrupting traffic.

If you are a driver who spots someone who wants a lift, you’re allowed to stop and offer them one, but not if you’re on one of the state’s massive freeways. Stopping on the shoulder of one of the those could disrupt the flow of traffic and cause a serious accident. You’ll have to somehow signal to the hitchhiker that you’ll meet them at the next exit.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the person offering a hitchhiker a ride or if you’re the person accepting the ride, it’s important to remember that inviting a stranger into your car is a risk. Make sure you use sound judgement and are very careful.

Understanding the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault

Understanding the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault

Understanding the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault

If you’re confused by the idea that in California has two different types of assault, simple and aggravated, you’re not alone. The state is full of people who don’t know the difference between these two criminal charges.

Throwing a punch at a guy who was irritating you while you were trying to enjoy a beer at your favorite bar is usually a simple assault. However, if you grabbed a knife or started swinging a pool stick, the charge will likely be bumped up to aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault is covered in California’s Penal Code Section 245. The way the law is written, aggravated assault takes place when an assault involves the use of a deadly weapon (including a gun.) Don’t assume that just because you didn’t have a weapon in your hand that you can’t be charged with aggravated assault. The law is written in such a way that if the end goal of the assault was to kill, rob, or rape your victim, you’ll be charged with aggravated assault.

The Punishment for Aggravated Assault in California

The penalties connected to aggravated assault are quite serious, particularly if you’re found guilty of felony aggravated assault.

If the assault was minor enough for you to only be charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault, you could potentially face:

✦ One year in jail
✦ Probation
✦ The loss of the weapon you used during the assault
✦ Community service
✦ Restitution

It’s not uncommon for individuals who are found guilty of misdemeanor aggravated assault to be ordered to complete an anger management course.

The biggest difference in the penalties connected to misdemeanor and felony aggravated assault is that the sentence will likely be longer and you’ll have to serve it in state prison. You’ll also have to live with all the long term repercussions of having a felony record

Felony aggravated assault is covered by California’s Three Strikes Law. The third time you’re convicted, the sentence is an automatic 25-life in state prison.

Defending Yourself from an Aggravated Assault Conviction

Proving you’re not guilty of aggravated assault isn’t easy, even though the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. You’re best lines of defense involve:

✦ That you were defending yourself
✦ You’ve been falsely accused
✦ Lack of intent

The best way to make sure you never have to defend yourself in a felony aggravated assault situation is to remove yourself from any potentially volatile situation you encounter while you’re armed with anything that could be considered a deadly weapon.

Early Warning Signs that Your Kid Has Encountered a Cyberbully

Early Warning Signs that Your Kid Has Encountered a Cyberbully

Early Warning Signs that Your Kid Has Encountered a Cyberbully

Social media is a great thing. Social media sites let you stay in contact with friends and family you wouldn’t otherwise see. You can connect with your community, join groups, play games, and simply shoot the breeze. It’s great.

There is a dark side to social media. The same social media sites you like to visit when you want to unwind create the perfect environment for a cyberbully to launch an attack against your child.

While it might not be possible to prevent your child from using social media sites, you can learn what signs you should watch for that will help you identify if they’re the victim of cyberbullying.

They’re Suddenly Withdrawn

Kids are always changing. They’re prone to mood swings. What they don’t normally do is completely turn their personality inside out. If you’re child has gone from being vivacious and outgoing to suddenly keeping to themselves, it’s highly possible that they’ve encountered a cyberbully.

They Start Behaving Strangely when they Get a Message

Today’s youth love their cellphones. It seems like they’re constantly on the phone. If your child starts looking sick or seems reluctant to check their messages, it could be a sign that they’re getting harassed by a cyberbully. This is especially true if the strange reactions to messages continues longer than a couple of days.

They Won’t Let you See Their Screen

Children, particularly teenagers, are notoriously shy about wanting to let their parents see their phone or computer screen. Younger children are different. They want their parents to see everything. If your child seems to be working overtime to make sure you don’t get a glimpse of their screen while they’re on the tablet or phone, it could be time to take action and check for a cyberbully.

Health Problems

A lack of appetite, headaches, constant upset stomachs. All of these things can indicate that you’re child is struggling to figure out how to deal with a cyberbully. Pay attention and see if the periods of bad health seem to worsen just before and after your child is on their phone/tablet/computer.

The better you are about observing your child’s behavior and identifying the early signs that they’ve encountered a cyberbully, the easier it will be for you to take action before your child does something potentially dangerous.