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Category: Visalia Bail Bonds (Page 1 of 117)

Is Being Homeless A Crime In California?

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In theory, California isn’t a bad place to be homeless. Sure, the high cost of living makes it difficult to get back on your feet, but at least the weather is nice all year round, so if you have to sleep outside a few nights a week, it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Wrong!

California lawmakers have made being homeless in California, even temporarily, extremely difficult.

California’s homeless population reached an alarming number a few years back. According to data collected and released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development California’s homeless population had swelled to 151,278 individuals at the end of 2019. While state and local lawmakers are aware of the problem but aren’t sure how to resolve the issue.

One of the biggest rumors that comes out of California is that homelessness is illegal in the state. That’s not quite true. Strictly speaking, being homeless isn’t a crime, but as one man said, state and local laws make everything the homeless population does to survive a crime.

In 2018, Kimberly Sandoval, a member of Santa Ana’s homeless population summed up the problem. “Stop criminalizing us, because that’s what they’re doing. It’s not illegal to be homeless, but everything we do is illegal.” At the time Sandoval had been homeless for about 15 years and had just been ticketed for having spare bicycle parts.

At the time Sandoval was struggling to figure out how to survive when she’d been issued tickets for having everything from a tent to a lawn chair. The reason for the tickets was a city ordinance that Santa Ana lawmakers had passed the year before. Each ticket made Sandoval, who had no other options, life much harder.

Santa Ana isn’t the only city whose homeless population has drawn fire. It’s estimated that there are over one thousand different laws throughout the state that are popularly known as anti-homeless laws. These include laws that make it illegal to sit/sleep in public areas such as parks. In many cities, it is even illegal for someone to sleep in their car, something several people do during the summer to gain some relief from California’s excruciatingly high rent fees.

Many people feel that the anti-homeless laws aren’t working the way state and local lawmakers hope.

“California has a lot more laws than other states,” Professor Jeff Selbin, an employee of UC Berkeley’s Policy Advocacy Clinic, explained. “Unfortunately, what may be a good fix to move that person from your street or put boulders on your sidewalk for example, is not going to solve the [bigger] problem.”

Selbin’s thoughts were echoed by Jennifer Friedenbach, the Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness. “The laws that go after homeless people exacerbate homelessness typically everywhere that they’re used. People can’t get in touch with their social workers because they’re being moved from place to place.”

While it is becoming increasingly clear that the laws created to discourage homelessness aren’t working, at this point, lawmakers don’t appear to be in a big hurry to change anything. If you or someone you love is homeless in California, it’s in your best interest to find a good legal advocacy group that will advise you about how to proceed when you encounter legal problems connected to California’s various “anti-homeless” laws.

 

What Happens If You Give A Police Officer False Information

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It doesn’t matter if you’re pulled over for a routine traffic violation or if the police knock on your front door and ask to talk to you, there’s something about face-to-face interactions that causes most of us to panic. This panic can result in us making some bad choices. A perfect example of this is not thinking before providing the officer with false information.

It doesn’t matter if you give the officer the wrong home address or if you pretend to be your younger sibling. If the officer finds out that you have provided them with false information, they will likely arrest you for violating California’s Penal Code 148.9. This is a misdemeanor offense. If you’re convicted, the judge can sentence you to six months in jail and charge a $1,000 fine. Since this charge will be on your permanent record, if the police ever question you again, they’ll likely be very suspicious of any information they get from you.

The good news is that Penal Code 148.6 clearly states that you have to knowingly give the officers the false information. That word “knowingly,” could be the key component to your defense, particularly if you made an honest mistake, such as forgetting your current home address and providing the police with a previous address. The same is true if you have given them the wrong information regarding your work history, or answered a question wrong during an interview.

If you realize that you’ve provided the police with the wrong information, it’s important to correct the situation as quickly as possible. The faster you alert the police to the mistake, the more the incident looks like a casual mistake as opposed to a deliberate attempt to mislead the police.

Another interesting thing about California’s Penal Code 148.9 is that you can only be charged with providing the police officer with false information if you provide the false information after you’ve been legally detained or arrested.

Don’t assume that just because you gave the police officer some false information before them formally detaining or arresting you that you have nothing to worry about. Giving false information before the arrest/detaining creates an opportunity for the police to charge you with interfering with an investigation and obstructing justice.

A guilty conviction for those charges results in getting fined up to $1,000, as well as spending up to 12 months in a county jail.

When it comes to the police, it’s in your best interest to be honest.

 

What Is Exoneration In California?

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Did you know that California leads the nation in exonerations? According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 120 people have been exonerated in California. Additional research reveals that in the past 30 years, California courts have dealt with over 200 wrongful conviction cases. It’s estimated that the amount of time the wrongfully convicted served for crimes they didn’t do adds up to 1,300 years. It’s also believed that the total cost of these wrongful convictions cost about $129 million.

That’s both incredible and alarming.

What Is An Exoneration?

  1. According to the legal dictionary, an exoneration is, “The taking off a burden or duty.
  2. It is a rule in the distribution of an intestate’s estate that the debts which he himself contracted, and for which be mortgaged his land as security, shall be paid out of the personal estate in the exoneration of the real.
  3. But when the real estate is charged with the payment of a mortgage at the time the intestate buys it, and the purchase is made subject to it, the personal is not, in that case, to be applied, in exoneration of the real estate. 2 Pow. Mortg. 780; 5 Hayw. 57; 3 Johns. Ch. R. 229.
  4. But the rule for exonerating the real estate out of the personal, does not apply against specific or pecuniary legatees, nor the widow’s right to paraphernalia, and with a reason not against the interest of creditors. 2 Ves. jr. 64; 1 P. Wms. 693; Id. 729; 2 Id. 120,335; 3 Id. 367. Vide Pow. Mortg. Index, h.t.”

How Exoneration Works

If you’ve been exonerated, it means that in the eyes of the law, you had nothing to do with a specific crime. You’re completely free of blame and guilt.

Not only are you free of guilt, but you also can’t be tried for the same case a second time. In California, most exonerations occur because of DNA evidence.

In theory, now that the science surrounding DNA has gotten so much better, we should see a reduction of exonerations, primarily because the evidence should prove that there is no point in taking a suspect to court at all. As soon as the DNA evidence is processed, and everyone knows it doesn’t belong to the suspect, they should be freed.

What About Life Following Exoneration?

Life isn’t always easy for someone who has been exonerated after spending a significant time in jail for a crime they didn’t commit. Not only do they have to deal with the psychological toll the experience took on them, but they also have to adjust to living in a world that has changed a great deal. Most don’t have many financial assets and are forced to rely on charitable organizations that provide the exonerated citizen with the tools they need to eventually rebuild their life.

 

California’s Take On Arson

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Many people are surprised by how many arson cases occur in California during a single year. It’s one of the state’s most common felonies.

It’s likely that the main reason so many people are surprised by the high number of arson cases the California courts deal with each year is that they tend to think of arson as something that’s committed by firebugs or people who start fires because they like watching things burn. The truth is that many arson fires are actually tangled up with insurance fraud cases and are started by the same person who owns the now burned structure.

Investigating Arson Cases

Investigating arson is a time consuming and complicated process. Most law enforcement agencies have a dedicated team of arson experts who deal with arson cases. It’s not unusual for this to be a cross-agency team that includes police detectives and fire investigators.

One of the ways that arson cases differ from other types of crimes is that it usually doesn’t take long to investigate other types of felonies. Charges are often filed within weeks, sometimes even days, of the incident. Arson takes a long time to investigate. Not only does the arson team have to go over the scene with a fine-tooth comb, but they also spend a great deal of time investigating every single person involved in the case. It can take years before the case is closed and charges are filed.

The Consequences Of An Arson Conviction In California

In order to be convicted of arson in California, the prosecution must prove that you acted maliciously when the fire was allegedly set. Proving their case involves the prosecution:

  • Proving that the fire was deliberately set.
  • That you either started the fire yourself, or helped someone set the fire, or arranged for someone to set the fire.

Malicious Arson In California

If the prosecution believes that you are guilty of malicious arson, you face a felony conviction.

Malicious arson in California involves:

  • Someone getting hurt as a direct result of the arson (this could include the fire crew who responded to the reports of a fire).
  • If the burned building was a dwelling.
  • If a non-inhabited building/forest was deliberately set on fire.
  • If someone else’s property unintentionally caught on fire as a result of the arson.

A guilty conviction for any of these charges will result in serving time in a state prison.

 

The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Crime Rates

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Whenever you turn to your preferred source of news, you’re likely slammed with information about the toll COVID-19 is taking on healthcare and the economy. Everyone is happy to share information about how overrun the hospitals are, how people’s mental health is suffering, and how the economy will never recover.

What hasn’t been talked about much is the impact COVID-19 is having on the crime.

When the pandemic first struck the United States, the crime rates dropped. That has changed. Today it’s obvious that the pandemic has triggered a surge in crime, particularly homicides.

NPR reported that in 2020, there had been over 750 homicides in Chicago, that’s an increase of over 50% from the year before. Chicago wasn’t the only city where homicide rates spiked. Los Angeles police dealt with 30% more homicide investigations. The increase in New York City exceeded 40%.

Experts agree that the spike is directly connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeff Asher, who works as a data consultant, studied the crime rates in 50 major cities and concluded. “We have good data that the rise in murder was happening in the early stages of the pandemic. We have good data that the rise in murder picked up in the early stages of the summer,” Asher explained to NPR, “and we also have good data that the rise of murder picked up again in September and October as some of the financial assistance started to wear off.”

Not everyone agrees that economic struggles are the sole reason homicide rates are climbing.

“It’s clearly related, in part, to the coronavirus and to the fact that people are cooped up,” New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio hypothesized. “And it’s certainly related to the fact that the criminal justice system is on pause and that’s causing a lot of problems.”

COVID-19 didn’t simply result in a spike in homicides. Experts have noted that other types of crimes have also risen sharply since the pandemic.

Data collected by the COVID-19 Council revealed that:

  • Aggravated assault cases jumped 6%.
  • Domestic violence reports increased at the start of the pandemic.
  • Gun assault charges increased by 8%.
  • Robbery reports spiked by 9%.
  • There were 30% more drug-related offenses.
  • Vehicle theft increased by 13%.

While these numbers are bleak, it isn’t all bad news:

  • Non-residential burglary decreased by 7%.
  • Residential burglary decreased by a staggering 24%.
  • Drug-related offenses dropped 30%.

Hopefully, the pandemic will end soon and life, as well as crime rates, will return to normal.

 

The Truth About Unemployment Fraud

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Unemployment fraud in California is hardly a new concept, but the pandemic has pushed it to new heights which have resulted in it overwhelming an already strained system.

What Is Unemployment Fraud In California?

The term unemployment fraud refers to the act of collecting unemployment benefits that you don’t really deserve.

Common examples of unemployment fraud include:

  • Continuing to collect unemployment benefits after you’ve returned to work.
  • Providing false information on your unemployment application.
  • Failing to report earnings from a part-time or freelance job.
  • Lying about how much you earned during an average workweek prior to applying for unemployment.
  • Using a false identity when applying for unemployment benefits.

The Impact Of Unemployment Fraud During The Pandemic

Since the pandemic hit, unemployment fraud cases have sky-rocketed. The Labor Department estimates that 10% of the unemployment benefits paid out during the pandemic have gone to people who don’t really need it and who are actually committing unemployment fraud. 10% doesn’t seem like much until you find out that it exceeds $63 billion.

While all states are struggling to deal with the reality of unemployment fraud, California has been hit particularly hard. Experts estimate that fraudulent scams have resulted in draining approximately $11 billion dollars of unemployment money in California. Another $19 billion has gone into suspicious-looking accounts that require additional investigation.

Consequences Of Unemployment Fraud In California

If you’re currently collecting unemployment benefits that you’re not technically entitled to, don’t assume that you’ll get away with it forever. Even if no one has looked too closely at your situation right now, it’s reasonable to assume that once the pandemic is over, steps will be taken to crack down on unemployment fraud. It’s likely that many cases that were filed during the pandemic will be investigated and charges will be filed.

California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) is responsible for investigating unemployment fraud cases. They are experts at this type of white-collar crime and are meticulous about combing through unemployment applications, tax records, and financial histories and looking for signs of unemployment fraud. If they feel that they’ve collected enough evidence to mount a solid case against you, they work with the local prosecutor and file charges.

Unemployment fraud is one of California’s wobbler offenses. If you collected less than $950, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor. If the amount is more than $950, you face felony charges.

If you’re found guilty of misdemeanor unemployment fraud, you face:

  • Having to make full restitution
  • Six months in jail
  • A $1,000 fine

If you’re convicted of felony unemployment fraud, you’ll face:

  • Having to make full restitution
  • A $10,000 fine
  • Spending a year in prison

The best way to avoid an unemployment fraud charge is to be completely honest about your work, income, and job application history. If you discover that you made a mistake on your unemployment application, report the issue right away.

 

The Truth About Doxing

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While it’s possible you’ve never heard the term doxing, you’ve likely seen examples of it.

Doxing, which is a shortened version of dropping dox, refers to starting an online attack. It goes further than simply getting into a virtual argument with someone. If you’ve been involved in doxing personal information, such as addresses, phone numbers, or personal documents were posted online.

While doxing is commonly associated with the internet, it actually predates the World Wide Web. The term was originally used in the early ’90s. It was during this time that hackers learned how to use computers and personal information to steal identities and infiltrate businesses.

When doxing became a problem online, the big issue was that the doxers would reveal our real names on the websites where we’d created an anonymous identity. Even though most of us use our real names on our social media accounts, there is still quite a bit of information we don’t want to be revealed online. This is exactly the information doxers want to exploit.

What Type Of Information Is Considered Doxing?

Doxers look for very specific information that they can use for their benefit, including:

  • Bank account information
  • Employment information
  • Criminal history
  • Home address
  • Private correspondence
  • Telephone number
  • Personal photos (not the ones that we typically post online, but rather the ones we prefer to remain private)
  • Social Security numbers
  • Embarrassing personal details
  • Credit card numbers

Is Doxing Illegal?

There’s no getting around the fact that doxing is immoral, but deciding whether it’s illegal is a tougher matter.

In 2017, federal lawmakers attempted to make doxing a federal crime, but the legislation failed to pass. In December 2020, the issue was once again raised. After a large number of state and federal lawmakers were threatened, some GOPs decided it was time to take another look at doxing. They proposed that it be included in the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017.

In California, there aren’t any laws that directly name doxing, but depending on the type of information that’s released, authorities could choose to pursue internet harassment charges.

Californians aren’t allowed to use electronic devices to:

  • Intentionally make another person worry about their safety.
  • Share personal information in a harassing manner.

If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to one year in jail and/or charged up to a $1,000 fine.

If you know personal information about another person, it’s in your best interest to contact the person privately rather than post it on your social media page.

 

How To Respond To An Employee Arrest

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You’re normally reliable employee failed to show up for their regular shift. Concerned, you make a few calls and learn that they were arrested. Now you have to figure out what you should do.

Remain Calm

It’s easy to get angry about the fact that you’re not only now down an employee for the day, but that you don’t know what the future holds for them. Instead of doing something you will regret, take a few calming breaths. Panicking won’t accomplish anything.

Don’t make a hasty judgment about the employee and terminate their employment. At this point, the only thing you know is that they’re in jail. You don’t know why. It’s entirely possible that they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and didn’t do anything wrong. If that’s the case, the charges will likely be dropped and you won’t have to lose a good employee over a simple misunderstanding.

Don’t Gossip

Don’t tell your other employees that their co-worker has been arrested. Simply let them know that the person isn’t coming in that day. It’s better for everyone if you wait until your employee is out of jail and back to work and can decide for themselves if they want everyone to know what happened. By resisting the urge to gossip, you avoid setting yourself up for a potential slander lawsuit.

The best thing about ignoring the desire to gossip is that your employee will appreciate your discretion and become intensely loyal to both you and your business.

Have A Meeting With Your Employee

While your employee doesn’t have to speak to their co-workers about what happened, and while you shouldn’t discuss the situation with the rest of your employees, you should have a sit down meeting with your employee and discuss their arrest. Hearing their side of the story allows you to decide how you want to proceed.

If you decide to keep your employee on, you need to remember that they’ll likely need some time off so that they can honor court appointments and meet with their lawyer. You will have to decide how they can make up for all the time they need to take off.

The most important thing to remember when one of your employees is arrested is that you don’t want to act out of a knee jerk reaction. Whether you decide to keep them on your payroll or decide to let them go, give yourself plenty of time to consider all of your options and the potential consequences of each one.

 

Criminal Charges Vs. Civil Charges

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One of the things that makes the American legal system confusing is that we have both criminal charges and civil charges.

Criminal charges are a straightforward part of the legal process. If you break the law, you’re arrested and criminal charges are filed against you. You have the option of pleading guilty to these charges. If you don’t plead guilty, the case goes to trial and a jury will decide if you’re guilty.

Civil charges are more complicated. Civil charges involve the victims of the crime. The civil court provides victims with an opportunity to do two things. First, they can face the person who they believe impacted the quality of their life. The second thing civil charges do is provide the victims with an opportunity to seek financial retribution.

If you’re unlucky enough to be hit with both criminal and civil charges, you’ll quickly notice that the two cases are handled quite differently.

The punishment in criminal cases usually involves fines, jail time, community service, or probation.

  • The punishment in civil cases is always financial.
  • There is a different standard of proof in civil and criminal cases.
  • Defendants in criminal cases have different guaranteed protections.
  • Juries are only used in very specific civil cases, most of the time it’s the judge who makes the final civil case ruling.

One of the things the O.J. Simpson case proved was that even if you’re not found guilty of the crime in a criminal case, you can be found guilty during a civil case. The reason Simpson was found guilty during the civil case even though he’d been found not-guilty during the criminal case is that a different standard of proof is required in the cases.

One of the first things criminal juries are told is that they can only find the defendant guilty if the prosecutor has proven that the defendant committed the crimes “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means that if there is any question in the jury’s mind that someone else committed the crime, they must find the defendant not guilty. In the O.J Simpson criminal trial, the jury voted not-guilty because there was evidence that suggested someone else could have committed the murders. In his civil case, there was enough evidence to suggest he had.

The “beyond a reasonable doubt” concept disappears in civil cases. In those cases, if the judge (and in rare situations, a jury) looks for a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that if all the evidence suggests that the defendant committed the crime, they’ll be found guilty of the civil charges.

One of the interesting things about civil cases is that the people who filed the charges against the defendant not only seek financial restitution for actual costs, such as medical bills following a DUI accident but can also seek punitive costs which include pain and suffering.

Considering the extremely high cost of both criminal and civil cases, it’s in your best interest to think twice before you commit a criminal act that could result in you facing both criminal and civil charges.

 

What Happens If I Make A Fake Or Prank 911 Call

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Making a fake or prank phone call to 911 might seem like good fun but it’s not something you want to follow through with. Neither law enforcement offices nor court officials have a sense of humor.

To put it simply, making fake or prank 911 calls is illegal. In some situations, that single phone call could even result in felony charges.

The best way to learn just how much trouble making a fake or prank 911 call can land you in is by setting aside a few minutes to read California’s Penal Code 148.3. When you do, you’ll learn that you can’t:

  • Call 911 and make a fake report of a crime, injury, or accident.
  • Make a 911 call that results in the dispatcher or a law enforcement making a 911 report.
  • Use 911 to report a fictional emergency.
  • Call 911 and make a report that you know is false.

Law enforcement can choose to file charges against you if your fake/prank 911 call results:

  • In the deployment of emergency vehicles.
  • A building/area is evacuated in response to your call.
  • The call prompts the 911 dispatcher to activate the state or local Emergency Alert System.

The law very clearly states that anyone who makes a fake/prank 911 call can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. What is less clear is how the decision to pursue a misdemeanor or felony case is made. The general rule of thumb is that if someone is hurt, the prosecutor will push for felony charges.

Making a single prank/fake 911 call in California can have a seriously negative impact on your budget. If you’re found guilty, you could be:

  • Spend a full year in a county jail.
  • Be fined up to $1,000.

The cost doesn’t stop with the court fines. Depending on how much effort local agencies made to respond to your fake 911 call, the emergency response team that was involved will likely send you a bill that includes all the expenses they incurred as a result of your call.

Fake/prank 911 calls officially became illegal in California in 2013. Local lawmakers choose to crack down on these types of calls because they were tired of the calls tying up local resources and making it impossible to respond to valid emergencies.

In Los Angeles, fake/prank 911 are sometimes referred to as swatters because of the number of times a fake 911 call resulted in a swat team getting deployed to a celebrity’s house.

Considering how much a fake/prank 911 call in California could cost you, it’s in your best interest to avoid using the number for anything that isn’t a genuine emergency.

 

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