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What Happens If You’re Accused Of Extortion In California

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California lawmakers consider the act of using a threat or force to compel someone into giving you something, usually money or property, that they’d prefer to keep for themselves. In California, extortion and blackmail are considered the same thing.

In California, extortion is considered an extreme situation. It is a felony with none of the wiggle room that’s connected to California’s wobbler laws.

Over the years, several extortion cases have made their way through the California court system. Some of these cases involved a burglar threatening the life or physical safety of the homeowner unless the owner revealed the location of valuables. There have been cases of public officials being blackmailed in an attempt to influence their vote. Some athletes have found themselves involved in extortion cases after someone placed a large bet that hinged on a certain team winning or losing. Eldercare extortion cases are also common. In these cases, care is withheld until the elder provides money to the caretaker.

The problem with extortion cases is that it’s not easy to put together a good defense. The most commonly used defenses are that the extortion didn’t happen and that the defendant was falsely accused. There have occasionally been people who’ve beaten extortion charges when it was revealed that the person or victim who filed the charges ultimately didn’t give in to the extortion.

If you’re charged with extortion, it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced defense attorney right away and start preparing your case. If you want to argue mistaken identity or false accusations, you’ll have to find witnesses and prepare documented proof that there is no way you benefited from the alleged extortion. In the case of false accusations, it’s a good idea to have proof that the individual who filed the charges stand to gain in some way if you’re convicted or that they have a history of making your life difficult.

Because extortion in California is a felony offense, if you’re convicted, you’ll serve time in a state prison.

If convicted you could be forced to:

  • Serve a maximum of a four-year prison sentence
  • Be required to pay a $10,000 fine
  • Have to make restitution

In some cases, particularly first-time extortion offenses, the judge has opted to allow the defendant to serve felony probation rather than prison time.

If you’re convicted of extortion, the felony record not only damages your reputation, but it can also make everything from getting a job, to acquiring a house, and even securing a line of credit difficult.

 

Streaking In California

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visalia-bail-bonds2

Streaking is one of those things that happens sometimes. It most often takes place at sporting events, but sometimes also happens at political rallies, school graduation, and even completely random.

Streaking involves someone stripping off their clothing and, usually running, past a group of people. Most people consider it funny and will share stories and even pictures all over social media.

There is one group of people who don’t think that streaking is funny: California’s lawmakers. They prefer that everyone remain fully clothed while in public. If you’re caught streaking, the police will arrest you and charge you with indecent exposure. That is when the incident stops seeming like a fun prank and becomes an issue that could have a seriously negative impact on your future.

In California, streaking and indecent exposure is dealt with in California Penal Code 314 PC. It’s a misdemeanor charge which doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that in addition to a six-month jail sentence, a guilty conviction will result in your name being placed on the sex-offender registration for a full ten years. You’ll be registered as a Tier-One offender. Having your name on the sex offender list, even for something as harmless as streaking, can have a severely negative impact on your ability to find a job, secure housing, and participate in community events. You can also be charged up to $1,000 in fines.

Getting caught streaking once is bad. Getting caught a second time is far worse. The second time you’re charged with indecent exposure, you’ll face felony charges.

If your second streaking episode results in a felony indecent exposure conviction, the penalties are steep. They include:

  • Spending up to three years in a state prison.
  • Lifelong registration on the sex offender list.
  • Being required to pay up to $10,000 in fines.

Before you decide to go streaking, consider that there aren’t all that many good defenses you can use in indecent exposure cases. The two best defenses are that you didn’t intend to expose yourself to anyone, a difficult argument to make when after a streaking episode. The second most plausible defense is that it’s a case of mistaken identity, which will be a tricky argument if half the crowd you streaked in front of used their cell phone cameras to catch the event.

Considering the potential fall out from a single streaking episode, it’s in your best interest to stay fully dressed and let someone else do the streaking.

 

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.

 

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 Doxing

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truth-about-doxing2

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.

 

Disorderly Conduct In California

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disorderly-conduct-in-california2

One of the problems with California’s legal system is that sometimes it’s difficult to know that you’re breaking the law. In many disorderly conduct cases, people think they’re just having a good time or being opinionated until the police show up. Sometimes people don’t even know what they’ve done until they hear the charges as the booking officer works through the paperwork.

What is considered disorderly conduct can vary from one state to another. Some cities even have different rules regarding what is and isn’t disorderly conduct.

In California, disorderly conduct is generally considered behavior that irritates, stresses, or alarms those around you. That doesn’t mean your little sister can file disorderly conduct charges against you each time you annoy her while you’re at home. However, if the pair of you are at a bar and you start shouting at her, the other bar patrons will likely call the police and you could be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Most disorderly conduct cases in California involve at least one person who is publicly intoxicated.

In addition to getting too wild while at the bar, California considers the following activities to be forms of disorderly conduct:

  • Lewd/lascivious acts
  • Soliciting
  • Engaging in prostitution
  • Loud public arguments
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Peeping

Sometimes loitering can be an instance of disorderly conduct.

The Consequences Of Disorderly Conduct In California

Disorderly conduct in California is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted and it’s a first offense, you could be sentenced to six months in jail and/or be charged a $1,000 fine. If you already have disorderly conduct charges on your record, the punishment could be more severe.

In some cases, disorderly conduct can be connected with additional charges, such as:

  • Simple assault
  • Trespassing
  • Public Intoxication

Disorderly Conduct Defenses In California

Putting together a good defense case in California when you’re dealing with a disorderly conduct charge isn’t always easy. Some defenses that have been successfully used in the past include:

  • Invoking Freedom of Speech
  • That you were acting in self-defense
  • That you were falsely accused
  • That it was a domestic dispute (this is a tricky defense if you were in a public building at the time)

If you know that you tend to get loud and do rash things when you’re having a good time and drinking, it’s in your best interest to either stay home or make sure you go out with someone who can stop your behavior and help you regain control before anyone calls the police.

 

The Difference Between Manslaughter And Involuntary Manslaughter

The Difference Between Manslaughter And Involuntary Manslaughter

The Difference Between Manslaughter And Involuntary Manslaughter

From a legal standpoint, manslaughter is, “the unlawful killing of a human being without any malice aforethought.”

What that means is that something you did resulted in the death of someone else. What separates it from other types of murder charges is that you didn’t actively think you were going to do something that would trigger their death. There was zero premeditation.

What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter, which is sometimes referred to as voluntary manslaughter, happens when the court rules that the victim provoked you. A perfect example of this is if you’re at a bar and someone is harassing you. If you decide you’ve had enough and punch your heckler and they die, that’s manslaughter.

You didn’t plan on murdering the person and their actions provoked the attack, but at the same time, you knew when you threw the punch, there was a chance it could end with a fatality.

Manslaughter is often considered an event that takes place in the “heat of passion.” In most cases of voluntary manslaughter, the defendant realizes that they could have and should have walked away from the situation rather than engaging with the victim.

What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is a little more confusing. It happens when your actions directly led to the death of another, but you didn’t act maliciously. Examples of involuntary manslaughter often involve cars. Examples include getting into a fatal accident because you were speeding, texting, driving under the influence, or failed to properly maintain your vehicle.

Consequences Of Manslaughter

If you’re convicted of voluntary manslaughter in California, the potential legal consequences include:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • Anywhere from 3-11 years in prison
  • Community service
  • Mandatory anger management counseling
  • Losing the ability to own a firearm

Voluntary manslaughter is one of California’s three-strikes law.

The legal consequence of involuntary manslaughter in California include:

  • 2-4 year in jail
  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Probation

You may also face additional charges such as reckless endangerment, DUI, etc.

 

Spring Break Is Here! Know What An Underage Drinking Charge Will Cost You

Spring Break Is Here! Know What An Underage Drinking Charge Will Cost You

Spring Break Is Here! Know What An Underage Drinking Charge Will Cost You

Spring break is finally here! It’s time to cut loose, forget all about your studies, and have a good time.

While there’s nothing wrong with relaxing and enjoying yourself, don’t forget that you’re not allowed to drink alcohol until you’re at least twenty-one years old. If you choose to ignore this, an underage drinking charge won’t just ruin your spring break, it will also have a negative impact on your life over the next few years.

It doesn’t matter if you’re pulled over for speeding or if the cops show up at a party, if your blood alcohol content is over .05 and you’re under twenty-one, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

For the record, a single beer is all it takes to put you over .05.

The days when an underage drinking charge resulted in a difficult phone call to your parents and some community service time are long over. California lawmakers have decided to crackdown on underage drinking during spring break.

The first time you get caught drinking while you’re underage, the potential consequences are:

  • Serving 24-32 hours of community service.
  • A $250 fine.
  • Attending an alcohol education program.

Each time you’re caught drinking while underage after the first conviction, the consequences are:

  • 36-48 hours of community service.
  • A $500 fine.
  • A one-year drivers license suspension.

The very first time you’re caught drinking and driving while underage, the potential consequences can include:

  • Spending at least 48 hours in jail.
  • Spending 3 years on probation.
  • Lowing your good driver status for 10 full years (this will lead to significantly higher insurance premiums).
  • Two points getting added to your current driving record.

Some California counties will also install an ignition lock on any vehicles that are registered in your name.

It’s important to remember that minors aren’t the only ones who can get into trouble for underage drinking. Anyone who allows minors to drink will also find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Parents who allow their children to consume alcohol while at home can get into serious trouble if that child is caught behind the wheel while under the influence. A guilty conviction of letting a minor drive while intoxicated includes a one-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.

If the court decides that you’ve contributed to the delinquency of a minor, they can hit you with a one-year jail sentence and a $2,500 fine.

Businesses that serve alcohol to minors face a misdemeanor charge that can include a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The charge can also jeopardize their business license.

It is in everyone’s best interest to remember that alcohol and minors shouldn’t mix this spring break.

 

Planning A Flight? Make Sure You’re On Your Best Behavior!

Planning A Flight? Make Sure You're On Your Best Behavior!

Planning A Flight? Make Sure You're On Your Best Behavior!

Most of us have been on a flight where at least one passenger seemed to go out of their way to be difficult. They were loud, overly active, got sassy with the flight attendants, etc. In some cases, the passenger’s bad behavior was amusing. In other situations, it was irritating. Sometimes it even becomes concerning.

The airlines have decided that enough is enough and they are no longer going to tolerate unruly passengers on flights.

Federal safety officials announced last January that they are no longer tolerating bad behavior on flights. The decision was made after multiple airline workers reported that they’d had confrontations with individuals and groups who were flying into Washington D.C. with the intention of joining the protests/riots that shook the U.S. Capitol.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), flights throughout the country experienced, “a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior. These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol.”

This is not the first time this issue has come up. Bad behavior on flights has been an ongoing concern since passenger flights first became popular. In 2001, the issue was finally addressed following the 9/11 attacks. Since then, the FAA has continuously explored different methods for identifying and quelling disruptive issues that occur both while in the air and in the actual airport.

Just a few examples of this include a couple who were arrested after they got into an altercation about a bag dispute in the Detroit Metro Airport. Another famous incident involved Alec Baldwin who refused to power off his electronics, despite being asked to do so by a flight attendant.

Stephen Dickson who serves as the administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) listened to recent complaints about unruly behavior on flights and signed what is basically a zero-tolerance policy. It’s a one-strike and you’re out policy. If you are accused of being unruly and disturbing the peace while you’re on an airplane, you’ll face serious legal consequences. These extend well beyond being asked to get off the plane.

If you behave badly while in flight, it’s likely you’ll be arrested right after the plane lands. You could be charged up to $35,000 in fines and even serve jail time.

At this point, the FAA considers assaulting or threatening your fellow passengers or the staff who is serving on the plane a disruption of peace. At this point, the order is in effect through March 30. It’s unclear if the FAA will move to extend the order following that date.

If you intend on flying in the next few weeks or months, it is in your best interest to be quiet and be on your best behavior until you reach your destination.

 

Stay Out Of Jail This Saint Patrick’s Day

Stay Out Of Jail This Saint Patrick’s Day

Stay Out Of Jail This Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is a great holiday. It’s one of those fun holidays where you’re encouraged to cut loose and have a good time. The problem with Saint Patrick’s Day is that it’s also a time when many people get a little too relaxed and end up in jail. Happily, there are things you can do to make sure you enjoy the holiday and also stay on the right side of the law.

Check Out Current Pandemic Restrictions

Last year, Saint Patrick’s Day was interrupted and virtually cancelLed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year it doesn’t look like things will be quite as restricted but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do whatever you want. Before heading out, check both state and local restrictions and know exactly what you can and can’t do. Also, make sure you adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear your face mask while you’re in public areas.

Have A Designated Driver

Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. Expect that the cops will be out and that they will be looking for drunk drivers. If you plan on drinking, do the smart thing and have a designated driver on hand. If none of your friends want to be the designated driver, at least arrange for a rideshare program or cab to take you wherever you want to go.

The best way to avoid the temptation of getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking is leaving your car at home and getting a ride both to and from your favorite bar.

Don’t Lose Your Head

While drunk driving makes up the bulk of Saint Patrick’s Day arrests, it’s not the only thing that can result in your spending a night in jail. Other common arrests during the holiday include drunk and disorderly, assault, and public intoxication charges. If you’re prone to drinking to the point where you lose all your inhibitions and do things you’ll regret, either bring a friend along who will remain levelheaded and prevent you from doing something you shouldn’t or restrict your celebrating to your home.

Stay safe and use good judgment this Saint Patrick’s Day!

 

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