You’ve Been Arrested for DUI… Again

You’ve Been Arrested for DUI… Again

You’ve Been Arrested for DUI… Again

Getting arrested and charged for DUI once in California is terrifying and life-altering. The second time you’re arrested for the same thing is even worse.

Like many states, California lawmakers have decided that to take a hard stance on drunk drivers. One of the ways they’ve done this is by creating laws that make a second (and each additional offense) significantly worse than the first. The reason for this is because while a single DUI could be the result of a bad judgment and an honest mistake, additional arrests indicate that you have a habit of driving while under the influence and a menace to society.

DUIs are addressed in California Vehicle Code Section 23152. The second time you’re convicted of a DUI in California, the result will include losing your ability to drive, fines, mandatory enrollment in substance abuse programs, and jail time.

When you’re convicted of a second DUI in California, you will be required to spend at least 96 hours in the county jail. That’s the minimum amount of jail time connected to a second DUI. The maximum amount of time you can serve is 12 months.

You should expect to pay a higher fine than you did for the first offense. Typically, the fine for a second DUI is between $390 and $1,000, but that might not be all you’ll have to pay. Most courts add penalty assessments to the DUI fine. These assessments can multiply the fine to five times the anticipated amount. In some situations, the judge will allow you to choose to extend the amount of time you serve in jail or do a great deal of community service in exchange for paying the fine.

Since January 1, 2019, a guilty conviction of a second DUI in California requires that the judge order an ignition interlock device be attached to your vehicle. This only happens if the two convictions are less than 10 years apart.

The second DUI means you’ll lose your driving privileges. The good news is that the loss of your license probably won’t be permanent. In California, the current license suspension for a second DUI is a 1-year suspension (administrative per se) or a 2-year suspension if you are convicted.

It’s worth noting that in some situations, the judge will grant you a restricted license. This doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to drive wherever you want. By if you’re able to present a compelling case to the judge, they’ll allow you to drive to work and to manage things like transporting your children. If you’re caught driving to places that aren’t specified in the paperwork connected to your suspended license or you’re driving at a time when you’re not supposed to, the restricted driving privileges will be taken away.

The only way you’ll be granted a restricted license is if you didn’t refuse to take a blood or urine test when you were originally arrested for the second DUI.

In addition to dealing with the actual criminal consequences of a second DUI, if you damaged property or injured/killed someone while driving drunk, it’s likely you’ll also find yourself engaged in a civil case as well.

The best way to avoid all of these consequences is making sure you never get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking or using drugs.

What is a Plea Bargain?

What is a Plea Bargain?

What is a Plea Bargain?

Considering how many people are arrested each year in California, there are surprisingly few criminal trials. There are usually two reasons a case doesn’t go to trial. The first is because the charges were dropped, either due to lack of evidence or because the person who filed the charges changed their mind.

The second reason is that the accused ultimately decides to accept a plea bargain.

The simplest way to describe a plea bargain is that it is an agreement that both the defendant and the prosecution enter into. In most cases, the defendant opts to take the plea bargain because they’re worried that if the case goes to trial, they’ll be found guilty and face steep consequences. When compared to the possible consequences connected to the trial, the plea bargain feels like a good deal.

Most plea bargains involve a reduction of charges. An example of this could be changing the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor or going from a 1st-degree offense to a 3rd-degree offense. While defendant will have a criminal record, the amount of time they have to spend in jail decreases as does the amount of fines they’ll pay.

Procedural shows always make it seem like a plea bargain concludes everything. That once a plea bargain is made, the defendant automatically gets whatever the prosecutor offered, but that’s not how real life works.

Before the plea bargain can be finalized, the prosecutor must alert a judge to the situation. The judge will want to look at the evidence the police collected, the charges, the terms of the deal. They may even look at similar cases. While it’s unusual, the judge can tell the prosecutor that the plea bargain isn’t acceptable, forcing both sides to reevaluate the case. In this situation, the prosecutor will either have to offer a different deal, decide to drop the charges, or prepare for a trial.

Defendants are free to reject a plea bargain.

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance estimates that 95% of cases end in a plea bargain.

Chat Room Crimes in California

Chat Room Crimes in California

Chat Room Crimes in California

Chat room crimes are a term that typically refers to specific cases that ultimately deal with the solicitation of a minor. The term first became popular after it was used by the television show, To Catch a Predator.

Chat room crimes typically involve an older person, usually, a male, who uses things like chat rooms and instant messaging to connect with and ultimately lure a minor. In many cases, the minor thinks that they are chatting with someone who is of a similar age to themselves.

Chat room crimes are typically covered by solicitation of a minor laws, which are outlined in California’s PC 288.2. The code states that:

“Every person who knows, should have known, or believes that another person is a minor, and who knowingly distributes, sends, causes to be sent, exhibits, or offers to distribute or exhibit by any means, including by physical delivery, telephone, electronic communication, or in person, any harmful matter that depicts a minor or minors engaging in sexual conduct, to the other person with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or the minor, and with the intent or for the purposes of engaging in sexual intercourse, sodomy, or oral copulation with the other person, or with the intent that either person touch an intimate body part of the other, is guilty.”

Chat room crimes can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. It isn’t entirely clear how the prosecutor decides whether they want to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges. What we do know is that they look at both the type and amount of evidence the police collected and your personal/criminal history before making a decision.

Examples of prosecutable chat room crimes include:

✦ Sending messages to a minor that are full of unmistakable sexual content
✦ Sending messages to a minor with the intent of meeting with them to engage in either consensual or non-consensual sex
✦ Sending videos/pictures with overtly sexual themes to minors

It is important to note that the prosecution is not required to provide proof of any sexual or even physical contact between you and the minor. The chats transcripts, messages, emails, etc. are enough proof to get a conviction.

You can also be convicted if the person you’re chatting with is actually an adult. The only thing that the court is interested in is if you believed they were a minor.

If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor chat room crime in California, the judge can sentence you to:

✦ Twelve months in a county jail
✦ A $5,000 fine

If you’re convicted of a felony chat room crime in California, you can face:

✦ Up to four years in a California state prison
✦ A $10,000 fine
✦ Registering as a tier one sex offender

The best way to avoid being convicted of a chat room crime in California is to avoid chatting with anyone who could even potentially be a minor.

Oops, I Opened my Neighbor’s Mail!!

Oops, I Opened my Neighbor’s Mail!!

Oops, I Opened my Neighbor’s Mail!!

The postal service isn’t infallible. They’re prone to making human mistakes. One of the most common mistakes the postal service does is occasionally putting your neighbor’s mail in your mailbox.

Most of us don’t really look at the mail before we open it. Since it’s in our mailbox, we automatically assume it’s for us. As a result, occasionally we open a piece of mail that belongs to our neighbor.

This can instantly lead to a sense of panic because most of us know that opening other people’s mail is a federal offense.

If you’ve accidentally opened a piece of mail that isn’t yours, the first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and relax. Unfortunately, these things happen.

The best way to deal with the situation is to return the mail to the envelope, seal it with a piece of tape, and let your neighbor know what happened. If you don’t see your neighbor, either slide the mail under their front door with a note of explanation or return the mail to the post office.

You want to take a proactive stance on the situation. The quicker you are to admit to the mistake, the less likely your neighbor will be to press charges.

If you got as far as reading whatever was sent to your neighbor, you don’t want to discuss the contents with anyone. Not with your neighbor (unless they bring it up,) not your spouse, and not your friends. Talking about the mail you accidentally opened could be considered an invasion of privacy and may cause your neighbor to consider filing charges against you.

The issue of mail theft is dealt covered by PC 530.5(E). In California, opening someone’s mail is a misdemeanor offense. A guilty conviction could result in being sentenced to a single year in jail. The good news is that to secure a conviction, the prosecution has to prove that you knowingly accepted the mail (or took it out of someone’s mailbox) and opened it. That’s why it’s so important to admit what you’ve done and alert both the post office and the actual owner of the mail to the situation.

Roadside Stands in California

Roadside Stands in California

Roadside Stands in California

If you have a green thumb and a good-sized garden, you’ve likely grown more produce than you can eat. A roadside stand is a great way to find a home for the surplus fruits and vegetables while also earning some extra money.

Before you start hauling tubs of squash and green peppers to the side of the road, you should take a crash course in the legalities of owning a roadside stand.

In California, roadside stands are regulated by California Health and Safety Codes as well as many local departments. To be legal, a roadside stand has to sell fresh produce or eggs. It isn’t a closed building, but rather a structure that’s open on at least one side. If you use the stand to sell packaged food or for storage, you can only use 10% of the stand’s total space.

Traditionally, the only types of things you could sell via a roadside stand were eggs and unpackaged fruits and vegetables. That has changed a little. When California lawmakers passed AB 2168 roadside stands could be used to market some home bottled products, including jams, pickles, and olives. The one rule was that the items used to create these bottled products had to be grown either on or near the home where the stand is based.

If you plan on using a roadside stand to sell jam and preserves, you probably won’t be able to bottle the items in your kitchen. The law requires that the packaging and preparation of these artisan items have to take place in a kitchen that’s been granted health department approval. If you want to make your products in your home, you’ll have to get your kitchen licensed as a Cottage Food Operation.

Another change is that you’re also legally permitted to sell bottled water and soda pop at your road stand, but only in limited quantities. The amount of space you dedicate to these items can’t exceed 50-feet.

It’s extremely important that you run your roadside stand like a business. Keep accurate records of both any money it makes and all of your expenses connected to the stand. The bad news is that you’ll have to claim this income when you file your taxes. The good news is that you’ll be able to deduct your expenses.

It is also a good idea to explore getting liability insurance for your roadside stand so that you’re protected if any customers are hurt while they’re going through your produce.

Committing Perjury in California

Knowingly Committing Perjury in California

Committing Perjury in California

Lying to a police officer who is investigating a crime can get you in trouble for impeding an investigation. Lying while on the witness stand and under oath during a trial will result in you being charged with perjury.

What is Perjury?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, perjury is: “the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath : false swearing.”

The topic of perjury is dealt with in Penal Code 118 PC. The code states that: “(a) Every person who, having taken an oath that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any of the cases in which the oath may by law of the State of California be administered, willfully and contrary to the oath, states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, and every person who testifies, declares, deposes, or certifies under penalty of perjury in any of the cases in which the testimony, declarations, depositions, or certification is permitted by law of the State of California under penalty of perjury and willfully states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of perjury.”

One of the interesting things about perjury in California is that the same penal code also states that: “(b) No person shall be convicted of perjury where proof of falsity rests solely upon contradiction by testimony of a single person other than the defendant. Proof of falsity may be established by direct or indirect evidence.”

Examples of Perjury in California

There have been many instances of people who have committed perjury. In many cases, a person deliberately lied during a trial when they were asked to identify a suspect or when they were asked how they knew specific details about a case. Other instances when perjury has been committed includes when people were asked to provide information about a car accident during either a civil or criminal trial. In these instances the false information was usually provided in an attempt to get a larger settlement or because the individual wanted to shift the blame off themselves.

Perjury and Affidavits

Most people assume that perjury is only committed when they take the witness stand during a criminal or civil trial. The reality is that a sworn affidavit also acts as a witness statement. Anyone who knowingly provides false information on an affidavit can be charged with perjury.

The Consequences of Committing Perjury

There aren’t many defenses that can be used in perjury cases. The most successful defense is that you genuinely believed you were telling the truth. If you do find that you accidentally provided false information while under oath, it’s in your best interest to let the DA know as soon as you find out. Taking a proactive stance goes a long way towards showing that you didn’t intend any malice when you inadvertently provided information that you later learned wasn’t true.

Perjury in California is a felony crime. If you’re convicted, you’ll potentially be sentenced to four years in a state prison and felony probation.

The best way to spare yourself from a perjury conviction is always telling the truth or admitting when you don’t know something each time you’re questioned by a lawyer or police officer.

How to get Free Legal Assistance in California

How to get Free Legal Assistance in California

How to get Free Legal Assistance in California

Nearly everyone has a point in their life where they need some sort of legal advice. If you’re lucky, you have enough money that you can pay a lawyer for their time. Sadly, not everyone is in this position. The good news is that whether you need answers to a few legal questions involving how to care for an elderly parent or need a good defense lawyer for an upcoming trial, California does have free legal assistance programs.

Public Defenders

Every American should know that if they find themselves on the wrong side of the law, they’re entitled to a defense attorney. There’s a well-known line in the Miranda Rights that states, “if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” The reason the line is in the Miranda Rights is so that you understand that getting a good lawyer on your side is an extremely good idea. It doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t guilty of the crime you’ve been charged with, you should have a lawyer in your corner. Even if you plan on pleading guilty they can advise you of your rights and even help negotiate a plea bargain. A court-appointed lawyer is better than no lawyer at all.

Legal Assistance and Advice

While the courts are required to assign a court-appointed lawyer to you if you’re charged with a crime, no one is obligated to provide you with free legal assistance. The good news is that there are several organizations scattered throughout California that have created programs that will provide you with either free or low-cost legal advice and assistance. If you contact an organization that doesn’t have the experience needed to help with your specific issue, they’ll likely provide you with the contact information of a group that does.

The biggest problem with using free legal aid programs is that they are usually only found in cities. Individuals who live in rural areas and small towns will usually have to look in more heavily developed areas when they need free legal counseling.

Don’t ever think that a lack of money makes it impossible for you to get your legal questions answered. There are resources out there that are far more reliable than posting your questions on social media sites and hoping for the best.

Felony Animal Cruelty in California

Felony Animal Cruelty in California

Felony Animal Cruelty in California

It’s a story that broke the hearts of animal lovers all over Los Angeles. Local newspapers have been covering the story about a kitten who was thrown out in the trash. The fact that the kitten was considered a piece of trash is bad enough, the fact that it was also severely injured makes the story even worse.

The small calico kitten was rescued from the trash in October. When it was examined, a local veterinarian discovered that not only was one of the kitten’s legs currently broken, there was also evidence that the other leg had been fractured earlier healed badly. Additional injuries included a dislocated hip, bruised lungs, missing teeth, and several bruises and cuts.

Sadly, this kitten’s story isn’t unusual. Every single year, California animal shelters to rescue and care for severely injured animals. What makes this case different is that police believe they’ve found the Lawndale man who is responsible for the kitten ending up in the trash. He’s been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty.

In an interesting twist, the kitten provided the clue needed for the local police to arrest the man believed to be responsible for the kitten’s injuries. The most important lead in the case came from the kitten’s microchip.

While the Lawndale man was arrested, he didn’t stay in jail long before he was released on his own recognizance, meaning he didn’t have to pay any bail. He doesn’t have to appear in court until July 22 for his arraignment. Police records indicate that he’s been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and two misdemeanor counts of failure to properly care for an animal.

California lawmakers have taken a tough stance on animal cruelty. As a result, California has some of the strictest animal cruelty laws in the country. The issue of animal cruelty is covered in the California Penal Code Section 597. It states that anyone who knowingly tries to kill, injury, abandon, neglect, or even overwork an animal can be charged with animal cruelty. It’s important to note, that you don’t have to own the animal to face cruelty charges. The law is written in such a way that even individuals who are caught harming wildlife can be charged with felony animal cruelty.

If convicted of felony animal cruelty, the judge could sentence the Lawndale man to spend three years in prison and charge him a $20,000 fine. In addition, the judge could order the man to also cover the cost of the kitten’s expenses for the time the cat was in foster care and receiving medical attention.

If convicted of a misdemeanor for failure to care for an animal charges, the man could be required to pay a $1,000 fine and serve six months in jail.