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Trick-or-Treat Safety

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Finally! Halloween is here. Not only does that mean cooler weather, pumpkin spice coffee, and an excuse to snuggle up with a good book rather than going out, kid will tell you that it’s time for free candy.

While kids love trick-or-treating, parents often have mixed feelings about the popular activity. Yes, it’s great to see how excited your kids get each year. The problem is that each year, parents worry how they will keep their child safe while they go from one house to another.

The good news is that there are things you can do to insure trick-or-treat safety while also allowing your children free rein to enjoy the holiday.

Make sure your children are visible, even if they’re out after dark. This isn’t complicated. Simply arm your child with a flashlight, and incorporate some flashing lights and reflective strips into their costume.

Remind your child about the rules of the road. Kids are so excited about being dressed up and obtaining as much free candy as possible, that they can easily forget things like watching for traffic. Before they head out to trick-or-treat it’s really important to remind them that they have to be respectful of motorist who are driving along the streets.

Trick-or-treat as either a family or friend unit. Instead of sending your child out on their own to trick-or-treat, make this an opportunity to make some excellent family memories and go out with your children. If work or life makes it impossible for you to join in the trick-or-treating fun, arrange for your child to go out with friends or other family members. Your child is far safer in a group than they are by themselves. Make sure a responsible adult will be watching over your children the entire time they are trick-or-treating.

Your children will want to eat their candy right away, but encourage them to wait until you get home. Waiting gives you an opportunity to inspect their candy and make sure it hasn’t been tampered with, plus it means your child isn’t potentially stopping in the middle of intersections in order to snatch a sugary treat.

Covid-19 is still a concern so make sure you keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on you and frequently apply it to your child’s hands. Remind them not to touch their face until they’re home and able to thoroughly wash their hands

What steps are you taking to keep your child safe while trick-or-treating this holiday season?

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Reporting a Missing Person in California

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It doesn’t matter if it’s a elderly parent, a child, or a significant other that isn’t where you think they should be. If you get a bad feeling about the fact that the person isn’t where the belong, you should report the missing. It’s better to report a person missing than to let a great deal of time pass because you don’t want to bother the police.

In California you’re encouraged to report runaways, significant others who haven’t been seen for a long time, elderly parents who have left home, and even co-workers who haven’t been seen or heard of for a few days.

Despite what television writers want you to believe, you don’t have to wait 24 or 48 hours to report a person missing. The idea of the waiting time is a fallacy. California police stations would prefer that you act quickly and file a missing person’s report. The idea is that it’s better to report the person missing and find out that it was nothing more than a miscommunication than to hesitate only to learn that your loved one was in serious trouble and that filing the report could have saved their life.

California has a division of the Department of Justice that’s dedicated to finding missing people. It’s called the Missing and Unidentified Persons Section. While this division is responsible for handling missing person cases, you don’t take your case directly to them.

In California, when you need to file a missing person report, you contact your local police station. They will take care of all the paperwork and they will contact the correct people in the Missing and Unidentified Persons Section who will spring into action and start looking for your loved one.

Both your local police and the contact person for the Missing and Unidentified Persons Section will work closely with you. They will want a physical description of your loved one, a good photograph, and information about where you think they last were. Law enforcement will use this information to put together bulletins, internet posts, and other material designed to help find missing people.

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to provide detailed information about your missing loved ones mental/physical/emotional health, personal interests, travel plans, and additional details that might help law enforcement get some ideas about where to start looking.

The more information you’re able to voluntarily provide about your missing loved one, the greater the chances are that you’ll soon be reunited.

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Public Intoxication

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Many people assume that as long as they don’t get behind the wheel and try driving home they don’t have to worry about how much they drink when they go out. While the decision to never drive after you’ve been drinking is always wise, that doesn’t mean you can get a plastered as you want. There is always a chance that your night of heavy drinking at the bar could result in you getting arrested for public intoxication in California.

The good news is that if you simply have one too many while you’re at the bar, you probably don’t have too much to worry about. California lawmakers have made it obvious that the only time legal concerns and public intoxication combine is when you’re so heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol that you’re unable to keep yourself and others safe.

For example, if you’re so drunk that you aren’t aware of traffic and start walking down the middle of the road, you’ll be arrested and charged with public intoxication. The same is true if you get so drunk while you’re at the bar that your normal mild-mannered nature abandons you and you start making threats or behaving in a lewd manner.

Public intoxication in California is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. In many cases, the individual must perform a specified number of community service hours.

The good news about public intoxication is that it won’t impact your driving record. The bad news is that the charge could hurt your future. It’s possible that the charge will make it harder to qualify for scholarships, land your dream job, and be approved for an apartment rental.

The only way you can be charged with public intoxication in California is if you’re in a public area. That means the best way to avoid the charge is staying home when you decide you want to spend the evening drinking.

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Fall Camping Safety Tips in California

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The fall is a great time to go camping in California. Not only is the weather a little cooler, but the bugs aren’t as bad either. Another advantage is that since school is in session, there are usually fewer kids at the local campsites which means the campgrounds and trails are a little quieter.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to safety and fall camping.

The first is that you have to be mindful of the weather. The biggest drawback to camping in the fall rather than the summer is that the weather changes faster and those changes can be more extreme. This is especially true if you’re going into the mountains. Not only will you want to watch the weather reports, but you’ll also want to pack some additional clothing that you can change into if the temperature suddenly drops.

Always let someone know where you are going, even if you are just going on a one-night hike/camping trip on your own. No matter how careful you are, there is a chance you’ll be hurt. Knowing when you’re supposed to be back and your last location drastically improves the chances of a quick rescue. The quicker the rescue, the better the odds of making a full recovery.

Keep your phone charged. Yes, you might crave solitude and escape, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your phone home. Before leaving make sure it’s fully charged so that you can use it if you get into trouble. While you want to keep your phone close at hand during the entire camping trip, you don’t have to keep it turned on if you don’t want to deal with texts and calls the entire time you’re camping. Feel free to turn it off and keep it in your pocket.

Be mindful of fire safety the entire time you’re camping. Fall wildfires are a serious concern in California. You don’t want to be the cause of one. Always have plenty of water on hand, create a fire ring, and keep the campfire as small as possible. Douse your fire before you leave the camp and make sure the ashes are cold and that there are no remaining embers that could start a wildfire.

Be realistic about your ability. Stick to trails that you are physically suited for and don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you’re on your own. Don’t take any chances that could end with you getting hurt or overwhelmed by exhaustion. If you’ve never gone camping before, bring an experienced camper with you so they can teach you how to camp properly.

The more mindful you are about safety, the more you’ll enjoy your fall camping adventure in California.

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Vehicular Manslaughter in California

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Vehicular manslaughter in California can be a little confusing.

The first thing to note is that vehicular manslaughter is an accident. The driver responsible for the incident didn’t plan on getting into an accident and they certainly didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Vehicular manslaughter is not a malicious act.

Vehicular manslaughter charges are usually brought against a driver when a momentary lapse in judgment causes that driver to break a traffic law and that incident directly leads to a fatality.

Examples of vehicular manslaughter include:

✦ A driver striking a pedestrian who is in the crosswalk because that driver was texting their spouse.
✦ A driver striking a cyclist as the driver takes a blind curve too fast, making it impossible for the driver or cyclist to take evasive action.
✦ A driver spills coffee on their lap, swerves and hits another car, killing the other driver

None of these acts involve malicious but all could have been easily prevented if the driver had simply been paying better attention or driving more defensively. Because the driver’s negligent or reckless actions resulted in a death, they can be charged with vehicular manslaughter and also be named as the defendant in a wrongful death claim.

Additional information about vehicular manslaughter in California is found in Penal Code 192(c) PC. It states that vehicular manslaughter is:

“Except as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 191.5, driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.
(2) Driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, but without gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence.
(3) Driving a vehicle in connection with a violation of paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 550, where the vehicular collision or vehicular accident was knowingly caused for financial gain and proximately resulted in the death of any person. This paragraph does not prevent prosecution of a defendant for the crime of murder.
(d) This section shall not be construed as making any homicide in the driving of a vehicle punishable that is not a proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, or of the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner.”

Vehicular manslaughter is one of California’s wobbler offenses. In some situations, it’s a misdemeanor. In others, it will be handled as a felony. In most situations, the traffic offense that led to the incident determines is you’re charged with a felony or misdemeanor. For example, if you were speeding but only driving a few miles over the posted limit at the time of the accident, you’ll likely be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in California which carries a maximum sentence of a single year in a county jail.

On the other hand, if you were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, you’ll not only face DUI charges but also felony vehicular manslaughter. The maximum sentence for a felony vehicular manslaughter conviction in California is six years in one of California’s state prisons.

The best way to avoid vehicular manslaughter charges is to never drive while under the influence of anything, leaving your cell phone in your car’s cupholder, and obeying all traffic laws.

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Obstruction of Justice Laws in California

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A surprising number of people think that obstruction of justice is something the writers of procedural shows made up in order to correct plot holes. While it’s true, obstruction of justice is an overused plot device, it is also a real thing. If you live in California, there are a few things you should know about the state’s obstruction of justice laws.

One of the interesting things about obstruction of justice in California is that the state doesn’t have a specific obstruction of justice crime. Instead, it’s a blanket term that’s used to describe a variety of offenses that are commonly referred to as California’s obstruction of justice laws.

Official offenses that are considered forms of obstruction of justice include:

✨ Destruction of evidence
✨ Withholding evidence
Resisting arrest
✨ Preparing false evidence
✨ Providing a false statement
✨ Hiding a witness/suspect
✨ Interfering with an arrest
✨ Lying to police officers
✨ Failing to report a crime
✨ Tampering with evidence
✨ Intimidating/threatening a witness

The exact consequences of breaking one of California’s obstruction of justice laws varies from case to case. One of the reasons so many different “crimes” fall under the label of obstruction of justice is so that prosecutors have the option of choosing the one that best matches the exact scenario where justice was obstructed.

For example, if you’re convicted of preparing false evidence, your sentence could include 16 months to three years in prison plus as much as $10,000 in fines. In this particular case, you’ll also likely be convicted of felony forgery.

On the other hand, if you are convicted of destroying evidence, you’ll only be convicted of a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence for destroying evidence is six months in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

If you interfere with an arrest which is also called obstructing a police officer, your sentence could be convicted of a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is a year in a county jail and up o a $1,000 fine.

If you’re charged with one of California’s obstruction of justice laws, don’t automatically confess. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution and making their case often isn’t as easy as they make it sound in the interrogation room. Not only do they have to prove that you did something that made it difficult for the prosecution to make a case or for the police to investigate the crime, but the prosecution also has to prove that at the time of your actions, you knew that you were doing something that obstructed the natural course of justice.