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Crosswalk Safety in California

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Walking to work means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in a traffic jam. It’s a great way to build some stamina while also burning a few calories. It also provides you with the means to start slowing down and develop a connection with the world you live in.

Just don’t think that walking to work is safer than driving yourself. A surprising number of California pedestrians are killed annually. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 972 pedestrian deaths in 2019. Approximately 22% of fatal traffic episodes in California involve a pedestrian. These alarming statistics prompted California lawmakers to pass the “Right-of-Way at Crosswalks” law.

The Right-of-Way law is written up in Code, Section 21950(a). When you read through the formal law, you’ll learn that drivers are legally required to yield to a pedestrian who is strolling through a crosswalk. The law requires that drivers yield to the pedestrian in both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The implementation of the law also requires that drivers use a little additional care when approaching a crosswalk and be on the lookout for pedestrians who may be about to step onto the street. If a pedestrian is stepping onto the street, the driver will have to stop to allow the pedestrian to safely cross the road.

Another issue that’s dealt with in the Right-of-Way law is passing while driving through a crosswalk. Passing while driving through a crosswalk is dangerous for several reasons, including that the passing driver may not see a pedestrian until it’s too late.

The interesting thing about California’s Right-of-Way law is that it’s designed to protect the rights of both pedestrians and drivers. Drivers do have the right away at crosswalks that are controlled with signals, provided the signal indicates that the driver can go. In this situation, the pedestrians are supposed to yield for drivers. However, drivers do have to wait for slow-moving pedestrians who may be struggling to reach the opposite side in a timely fashion, and the driver must be prepared to take safe and evasive action if a distracted pedestrian fails to notice the sign.

Drivers who are caught failing to adhere to California’s Right-of-Way law will likely receive a traffic citation which will involve a steep fine, points, and the possibility of having the state consider revoking their driving privileges.

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Pickpocketing in California

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When you think about it, you don’t often hear about pick pocketers these days. It’s not because pickpocketing is no longer a problem, but because crimes involving pick pocketers are either given different names and because they seldom generate any media attention.

According to the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, pickpocketing is still a common occurrence. They reported that on Muni in San Francisco, the number of reported pickpocketing incidents increased by 8 percent in 2018.

Most pickpocketing incidents in California fall into the category of petty theft, which means that the thief’s adventures involved an amount that was less than $400. It’s actually in a pickpocket’s best interest to specifically target people who have less than $400 on them because if the thief is caught and eventually convicted the maximum sentence they ace is six months in a local jail and a fine that won’t exceed $1,000.

Depending on the pickpocket’s criminal history and the exact details surrounding the pickpocketing event, the judge could decide that a sentence of misdemeanor probation is sufficient.

On the other hand, if the pickpocket manages to lift more than $400 from a pocket and is eventually convicted of grand theft, the potential sentence is a maximum of three years in a state prison.

It is worth noting that if a pickpocket accidentally removes a gun rather than a wallet from its target’s pocket, it could be in more serious trouble than they anticipated. The involvement of the gun changes things. It doesn’t matter if the pickpocket knew about the gun or not, the fact that they attempted to steal it automatically means they will face a charge of grand theft in California.

Other factors that can quickly change things for a pickpocket is if they are armed when they picked a pocket if they got into a physical argument during the incident and if they made any verbal threats.

If a gun or knife was on the pickpocket’s person during the incident, the pickpocket will likely be charged with armed robbery. If blows/kicks/bites/etc were exchanged during the incident, assault charges will likely be filed against the pickpocket. If verbal threats were used during the incident, the pickpocket could face intimidation charges.

The best way to avoid pickpocketing charges and accusations is to keep to yourself whenever you find yourself in a crowded situation.

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What is Assault with the Intent to Commit a Felony?

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Legally speaking, assault isn’t simple. California has multiple assault laws on the books and each one is just a little different from the others. Assault with the intent to commit a felony is just one of California’s assault laws.

What is Assault with the Intent to Commit a Felony?

An assault with the intent to commit a felony in California describes an assault that was committed while the defendant was in the act of committing a felony. For example, if you are engaged in a felony burglary, are surprised but the homeowner, and shove them against the wall, you can be charged with assault with the intent to commit a felony.

This particular charge is usually attached to whatever felony you are accused of committing at the time of the assault. It doesn’t matter if you managed to pull off the felony or were caught in the middle of it. If an assault happened during what you intended to be a felony crime, you will be charged.

Consequences of an Assault With the Intent to Commit a Felony Conviction

If you’re convicted of assault with the intent to commit a felony, the maximum sentence includes up to six years in prison.

If you decide to not accept a plea bargain and take the case before a jury, the prosecution must prove that you willfully and knowingly applied force on the victim and that you were fully aware of the felonious crime you were also in the middle of committing.

It’s important to know that assault can mean more than simply punching a person. Assault is a blanket term that can also refer to:

✨ Punching
✨ Hitting
✨ Tripping
✨ Dropping

The best way to avoid ever having to face an assault charge is always keeping your hands and feet to yourself.

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Boating While Under the Influence in California

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Everyone knows about the dangers and legal consequences of driving while under the influence, but we have a tendency to get lax when it comes to other situations. For example, while most of us would never dream of getting behind the wheel of our car after we’ve had a few beers, we have no hesitation when it comes to steering a boat as we drink.

One of the reasons we don’t give boating under the influence a second thought is because very little is ever said about the legal repercussions of doing so. The truth is, that if you’re caught driving a boat while intoxicated, your immediate future could be ruined.

The issue of boating under the influence in California is dealt discussed in Harbors & Navigation Code 655. The law states that:

(b) No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.

(c) No person shall operate any recreational vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more in his or her blood.

(d) No person shall operate any vessel other than a recreational vessel if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more in his or her blood.

(e) No person shall operate any vessel, or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device who is addicted to the use of any drug. This subdivision does not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

(f) No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, and while so operating, do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in the use of the vessel, water skis, aquaplane, or similar device, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than himself or herself.

Getting caught boating under the influence isn’t a joke. You will be charged and face legal consequences. The exact consequences will depend on if it’s your first offense and exactly which aspect of Harbors & Navigation Code 655 was violated.

In most situations, boating under the influence in California is a misdemeanor offense. The maximum sentence for a first-time offense is six months to one year in jail and/or a potential fine of up to $1,000. It’s also possible that the judge will include substance abuse counseling and community service into the sentence.

In the right circumstances, a boating under the influence charge can become a felony offense. This usually happens if your actions resulted in someone getting hurt or if you caused a boating accident that created substantial property damage. If convicted of felony boating under the influence in California, your sentence could include 16 months to three years in jail.

The best way to make sure you don’t have to deal with the hassle of a boating under the influence charge in California is making sure that a designated captain who agrees to not to drink is the only person who piolet the boat.

Your boating adventures should be handled the same way you handle nights out with friends.

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Car Theft in California

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Car theft is a serious problem in California. Data collected by the California Highway Patrol revealed that in 2019, 151,244 California vehicles were stolen. That means that someone had a vehicle stolen in California every 3.5 minutes. The accumulated value of these vehicles was about $1.2 billion. What is really alarming is that those figures indicate a shocking 8.2 percent increase in auto thefts from the year before.

Things got even worse in 2020 when 180,939 vehicles were reported stolen. The accumulated value of the stolen vehicles was $1.6 billion. This represents a 19.6% car theft increase from 2019.

Law enforcement would like to turn that trend around.

The issue of car theft in California is addressed in Penal Code 487(d)(1) which is where the topic is formally referred to as grand theft auto. When you read through the law, you’ll find that taking any vehicle without the owner’s permission when that vehicle has a value that exceeds $950, is considered grand theft auto. If you’re caught, the prosecutor will decide if they want to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

The consequences of a car theft conviction in California are severe.

If felony charges are pursued, you face a sentence that includes:

✨ Sixteen months to three years in prison
✨ Up to $5,000 in fines
✨ Restitution

In many cases, grand theft auto in California is combined with other crimes, such as burglary, assault, reckless endangerment, and traffic violations.

If you are borrowing someone’s vehicle, it’s in your best interest to make sure they write down that they gave you permission to drive it or at the very least, have a few people witness them saying that you were welcome to use the vehicle. Treating the loan of a vehicle as a business deal reduces the chances of a communication breakdown resulting in car theft charges. When borrowing a vehicle, it’s always best to be extremely cautious and to make sure everybody connected to the car understands the situation.

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Consequences of High-Speed Chases in California

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High-speed car chases happen all over the country, yet whenever people hear about a high-speed chase, they automatically assume it took place in California. That’s because California, and more specifically, Los Angeles, is considered the Car Chase Capital of the World.

There are a few reasons that California and high-speed chases go together. The first is that there are a lot of people in California and an extensive highway system. That combination means more opportunity. In 2002, there were over 700 car chases just in Los Angeles.

The second is that there is more media coverage, specifically helicopter film coverage, in the L.A. area, which means that rather than being a single paragraph buried in the bottom of an online newspaper column, the California chase makes it onto television and attracts a lot of attention.

The problem with high-speed car chases is that while they look fun on television, they are actually extremely dangerous, and often it’s the bystanders who get hurt and even killed as a result of the car chase.

It doesn’t matter how good a driver you think you are, you will never be able to outrun the police, who will use radios to stay on top of your exact location. Engaging in a high-speed car chase will simply get you in even more legal trouble than you faced prior to trying to flee the police. Even worse, there will be elements of the chase you simply can’t control.

A recent California car chase illustrated just how badly things can go when you attempt to flee the police. In June, a driver in a flatbed truck attempted to evade the police. At one point he was driving on the wrong side of the road. He lost control of his vehicle when the police deployed a spike strip and crashed his vehicle. The wreck was so severe the 10 Freeway was shut down while debris was removed.

California lawmakers call fleeing the police reckless evasion, a wobbler offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Reckless evasion is addressed in the California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor reckless evasion, you could be sentenced to:

✨ Up to one year in jail Fined $1,000

If you’re convicted of felony reckless evasion, the sentence can include:

✨ Up to 3 years in prison
✨ A fine that’s as large as $10,000
The judge could order that the vehicle you used to flee from the police be impounded for thirty days, which will make you responsible for impound fees as well as towing.
In order to convict you of reckless evasion, the prosecution has to prove that:

✨ You intentionally evaded the police
✨ That it was clear both the vehicle the officer was in and the officer was a member of the police force

It doesn’t matter if you’re worried about getting a ticket or if you’re about to be arrested for a serious crime, trying to evade the police and leading them on a high-speed chase will only make the situation much worse. Not only will the evasion lead to additional charges, but if your actions lead to property damage or if someone gets hurt, you could also find yourself as the defendant in a costly civil lawsuit.

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4 California Bike Laws you Probably Don’t Know About

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Do you spend a lot of time biking in California? If so, there are some California bike laws you’re probably not familiar with.

Bikes and Crosswalks

Did you know that as a cyclist, you’re not supposed to stop your bike in the middle of a crosswalk? When you’re on a bike, you need to treat it the exact same way you would if you driving a car. Instead of pulling into the crosswalk, you’re supposed to stop at it. This gives pedestrians the opportunity and space needed to use the crosswalk.

Prep Your Bike For Nighttime Rides

If you’re cycling at any time between dusk and full-on morning sunlight, you need to have your bike properly equipped with enough equipment that motorists can easily see your bike. It’s not enough to simply rely on the reflectors the bike came with You should also have a red solid or flashing light attached to the back of your bike that can be easily seen from a distance of 500 feet away. On the front of your bike, you need to attach a white light that not only helps with your visibility but can also be seen from 500 feet away.

Ideally, you should wear clothing that has reflectors on it as well.

Keep One Ear Open

You see it all the time, cyclists cruising along with headphones in their ears, taking advantage of their ride to listen to audiobooks, songs, and podcasts. What you probably don’t know is that you can’t legally have two ears full of earbuds or be covered by a headphone while you’re cycling. CVC 27400 states that you must leave one ear uncovered while you’re riding your bike.

Stay Away from that Oversized Bike

If you think it’s okay to send your child out on the bike they haven’t quite grown into, or you’re tempted to purchase a massive bike you’ve been admiring each time you visit your favorite bike shop, you need to think again. California’s bike laws prohibit you from operating an oversized bicycle on public roads.

CVC 21201(c) states that, “no person shall operate upon a highway a bicycle that is of a size that prevents the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it safely.

Were you familiar with these bike laws?

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The Legal Ins and Outs of Street Racing in California

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Street racing is fun. It’s exciting. It might even seem like a good idea. It’s also the type of fun that can land you in a great deal of legal trouble.

California lawmakers believe that street racing is reckless and dangerous behavior which is why they’ve created strict laws. The hope is that the laws are enough to convince you to give street racing a pass and look for a different, legal way, to get your kicks.

It’s important to understand that California lawmakers are cracking down on all types of street racing. You aren’t allowed to drag race, drift, or engage in a straight-up speed race while you’re on a public road. If you want to race, find a private racetrack.

At this point, street racing is a misdemeanor in California. Don’t assume that just because it’s a misdemeanor that you’ll get away with a reprimand. The potential consequences of first-time offense for street racing in California include:

✦ 40 hours of required community service
✦ Losing your driver’s license for between 90 days and 6 months
✦ Serving between 1 day and 90 days in county ail
✦ A fine that ranges from $355-$1000
✦ Potentially having your vehicle impounded for 30 days (which means 30 days of impound fees)

You probably already guess, the consequences are worse after the first time you’re convicted of street racing in California.

If less than 5 years have passed since your first street racing conviction, the consequences can include:

✨ A mandatory 6-month suspension of your driver’s license
✨ Serving 4 days to 6 months in the county jail
✨ Paying fines that could range from $500-$1000
✨ High impound fees

Many street racers are caught because someone is hurt during the race which means medical personal and police arrive on the scene. Not only do the injuries bring law enforcement, but the injury also means significantly worse consequences to everyone who was busted on the California street racing scene.

Street racers who are caught in a race that resulted in minor injuries can be sentenced to 30 days up to 6 months, have their license suspended, be required to do a significant amount of community services, and be issued fines of $500 to $1,000.

When a person is seriously injured as a result of a street race in California, you could be sentenced to 16 months to 3 years in jail, lose your driving privileges for a long time, and be required to pay as much as $10,000 in fines. It’s also likely that you’ll be named as the defendant in a civil lawsuit.

If someone passes away because of injuries sustained in a street race, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

In many cases, street racing is just one of the charges you’ll face when you’re arrested for street racing in California. Additional charges that are frequently added to the street racing charges include:

✦ Reckless endangerment
✦ Reckless driving
✦ Evading the police
✦ Speeding
✦ Failure to yield
✦ Etc.

When you consider the potential consequences of street racing in California, it really is in your best interest to take the time to find a private race track where you can legally race to your heart’s content.

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Littering in California

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You already know that you’re not supposed to litter. It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t throw things out your car windows, leave trash scattered around a campsite, or drop food wrappers while you’re walking.

What you might not know is exactly what happens if you fail to do the right thing and clean up after yourself.

California’s littering laws are some of the toughest in the country.

California lawmakers created California Penal Code (PC) 374 specifically to deal with the issue of littering. The great thing about this law is that not only does it create clear-cut consequences for littering, it also helps define what is a waste product, which helps clear up some of the gray areas other states struggle with when dealing with littering cases.

The law defines littering in California as, “littering means the willful or negligent throwing, dropping, placing, depositing, or sweeping, or causing any such acts, of any waste matter on land or water in other than appropriate storage containers or areas designated for such purposes.”

The law goes on to clarify that the following items are considered waste and that improperly disposing of them is considered littering:

✨ Lighted or nonlighted cigarette, cigar, match, or any flaming or glowing material
✨ Garbage/trash
✨ Refuse
✨ Paper
✨ Packaging/construction material
✨ The carcass of a dead animal
✨ Any nauseous or offensive matter
✨ Any object that’s likely to injure any person or create a traffic hazard.

While the law does a nice job of stating what litter is, it’s not as helpful when it comes to the consequences associated with getting caught littering.

The first thing you have to understand is that the consequences for throwing fast-food wrappers out your window are going to be significantly different than leaving a mattress in a ditch, or failing to dispose of hazardous waste.

At this point, littering is treated as an infraction, not a misdemeanor. Don’t assume that the lack of jail time means you can litter to your heart’s content. Fines for littering can range from $100-$750 depending on how many times you’ve been cited for littering and what type of materials were involved in the littering infraction. You’ll also be required to complete anywhere from 8-24 hours of community service.

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Streaking Laws in California

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Streaking is one of those things that usually seems like a good idea at the time and generates quite a few laughs. Unfortunately, it’s also something that can draw the attention of the law and land the streaker in some legal hot water. There had been a time when streakers were able to quickly pull clothing on and basically remain anonymous, but now that so many people share videos of streaking incidents, the odds of identifying you and alerting the authorities are quite high.

While streaking may seem like a bit of harmless fun to you, California’s lawmakers aren’t amused by the behavior. They consider streaking a form of indecent exposure, which makes it a criminal act.

The issue of indecent exposure and by extension streaking is dealt with in California’s Penal Code 314 PC. The part of the code the specifically pertains to streaking incidents states that anyone who, “Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts,” is guilty of indecent exposure.

Streaking can also be a violation of California’s Penal Code Section 647(a) which was written to deal with lewd actions.

The good news is that indecent exposure convictions are only a misdemeanor, which means that the maximum sentence you would face is a six-month stay in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. There’s also a good chance you would be required to do some community service work and be put on probation. As scary as that sounds, the part that can really alter the course of your life is that you could be registered as a Tier-One sex offender.

California has set up different tiers for sex offenders. If you’re registered as a Tier-One sex offender, you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or non-violent felony sex offense. You have the opportunity to be removed from the list 10 years after your conviction but as long as you remain on the list, you could find that your sex offender status makes it extremely difficult to get a job or procure housing.

Given how badly registration on the sex offender list could damage your future, it is in your best interest to remain clothed, no matter how strong the temptation to streak is.