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Updating Your California Driver’s License Following A Move



Your driver’s license not only proves that you’re legally allowed to drive in California, but it also serves as your main source of identification. It’s important that all the information that appears on your driver’s license is current.

You should already know that you’re not allowed to drive on an expired driver’s license in California.

According to the California DMV, changing your address on your driver’s license should be one of the first things on our agenda following your move. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving to California from another state or if you’ve simply moved across the street, you have 10 days to contact the DMV about the change in residence. That really isn’t much time, so it’s in your best interest to pencil it into your schedule as one of the things you should do before you start unpacking.

Even though the California DMV doesn’t give you much time to change the address on your driver’s license, they have taken steps to make it as simple as possible.

In most California counties, you have three options for changing your address on your license:

  • You can visit your local DMV office.
  • You can mail in a change of residence form to the DMV.
  • You can go online and fill out a virtual form which the DMV will file.

While all options are good and legal, the benefit connected to going to the actual DMV office is that they will give you a temporary license that will have your new address on it. That way, if you do get pulled over and ticketed, the ticket information will go to your new address rather than your old one.

If you fail to contact the DMV about the change of address on your driver’s license in a timely manner, you may face a small, additional fee when you finally get around to completing the chore. While it’s unlikely that you’ll get a ticket for having the wrong address on your license (assuming it’s not expired) if mail concerning the ticket is sent to the wrong address, it could result in some substantial late fees getting attached to any ticket for moving violations the officer did issue.

The biggest risk connected to not updating your address on your driver’s license could be that it causes problems with your insurance company, which may use the failure to change the information as a reason to delay paying when you file a claim. They may even decide to drop your policy altogether.

When all is said and done, it’s best to simply take a few minutes and update your address.


Wrongful Termination In California



It’s strange that more time isn’t dedicated to talking about California’s wrongful termination laws. Considering that the vast majority of California’s adult population is employed by someone other than themselves, there is a chance that a large portion of California’s population could potentially be the victims of wrongful termination.

Wrongful termination refers to an employer either firing or laying off an employee for an illegal reason. Examples of wrongful termination situations in California include:

  • Firing for a reason that goes against public policy.
  • Letting an employee go because they are considered a whistleblower.
  • Firing an employee for notifying management about the violation of rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
  • A termination that violates either an actual or an implied contract.

Very few wrongful termination cases make it into the criminal justice system, though there are always exceptions. What’s far more likely is that the employer and terminated employee will meet again in California’s Civil Court. If you decide to file a civil lawsuit for wrongful termination against your employer, you need to understand that the burden of proof rests on your shoulders. These cases aren’t easy because most employers will create a plausible excuse for letting you go, it’s up to you to prove the real reason they let you go.

In most successful wrongful termination cases, the plaintiff managed to provide documentation in the form of positive performance reviews, employee/employer email/text transcripts, and testimonials from co-workers that revealed the real reason the employer fired the plaintiff. Since getting copies of this documentation from the employer is virtually impossible employees should always protect themselves by saving everything, even if they think they’re in a positive employee/employer relationship.

When it comes to a wrongful termination case, it’s in your best interest to act as quickly as possible. The first reason for filing the lawsuit as quickly as possible is because it helps keep the situation fresh in the minds of witnesses which makes their testimonies more valuable.

The second reason to act quickly is that there is a statute of limitations on wrongful termination cases. The statute of limitations varies depending on why the wrongful termination happened. For example, if the termination violated an oral contract between the employer and employee, the statute of limitations is 2 years. If the termination was the result of a violation of the Whistleblower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act a complaint has to be filed with the US Department of Labor within 180 of the termination. If the termination went against the WARN Act, the statute of limitations is a full 3 years.


Your California Driver’s License Expired! Now What?



In California, your driver’s license expires every eight years unless you’re 66 or older. If you’ve passed your 66th birthday, your license will expire every 5 years.

The day it is set to expire will always be on your birthday. The California DMV is supposed to send out a reminder, as well as a renewal form about 2-months before your driver’s license is supposed to expire, but you shouldn’t bank on that happening.

Even though the DMV has a good reputation for mailing the reminders, sometimes they get lost or are delayed. Legally, you can’t use not getting a reminder as an excuse for driving with an expired California driver’s license. The best way to make sure your license is always current is by getting into the habit of looking at the expiration date in the weeks leading up to your birthday.

The state currently has a program that allows you to renew every other license by mail or online. This means you only have to go into the DMV office every 16 years for an updated photo provided you haven’t turned 66.

The good news is that if you do miss the exact expiration date on your driver’s license you don’t have to panic. The state has created a 60-day grace period during which you can renew your license. Once that 60 days passes, if you get pulled over, you’ll be in trouble.

Driving with an expired license is one of California’s wobbler offenses. If it’s considered an infraction, you could be issued a fine of up to $250. If the court decides it’s a misdemeanor, you could be charged up to $1,000 and be sentenced to up to 6-months in jail. This is in addition to any fines and points that are added for additional traffic violations that took place when you were pulled over.

Now that you’ve read this article and understand how serious driving on an expired driver’s license is, do you know how long you have before you need to renew yours?


Failing To Use Your Blinker In California



It’s such an easy thing to do. You hit the little switch on the side of your steering wheel, which activates your blinker light so that all the other drivers on the road understand that you’re about to make a turn. Even though using your blinker is one of the easiest things most of us do during the course of our day, there are still drivers who fail to signal when they’re about to make a turn.

Common reasons drivers give for not using their blinker include:

  • They were in a designated turn lane so they shouldn’t have to use a blinker.
  • Other drivers should be driving defensively and therefore be prepared for them to do anything.
  • They forgot to activate their blinker.

Whatever excuse you use for not using your blinker when you decided to make a turn, you should know that by neglecting your blinker, you’re putting yourself in a position to get a traffic ticket, or even worse, getting into a serious accident.

In 2012, the Autoblog reported that the Society of Automotive Engineers conducted a study that explored just how dangerous failing to use a blinker really was. The results surprised everyone. According to the collected data, failing to use a blinker resulted in even more accidents than distracted driving.

The Society of Automotive Engineers reported that they observed that approximately 25 percent of drivers failed to signal that they were either turning, changing lanes or while passing. Based on this data, the ground determined that there are 750 billion instances of drivers failing to use their turn signal each year which means that approximately 1-2 million accidents each year could have been avoided had the driver taken the split second needed to signal their intentions.

During the period of time that the study of blinkers was underway, they reported that there had been 950,000 vehicle crashes that were the result of distracted driving situations.

If a police officer catches you in a moment when you’ve failed to use your blinker, the consequences could be severe. While there’s a chance they’ll let you off with a warning, there’s an equally good chance they’ll issue you a ticket that comes with a $238 fine and will also result in a point being added to your driving record. That point is particularly troubling since 4 points in a 12-month span or 8 points in a 36-month span can result in the state suspending your driver’s license.

When all is said and done, using your blinker each and every time you make a turn or change lanes is the best way to prove that you’re a good and responsible driver.


Understanding Felony Probation In California



In some situations, when you’re convicted of a felony, a judge might decide that instead of spending time in prison, you can stay home and be placed on what is referred to as felony probation. While there are always exceptions, felony probation in lieu of prison time is usually only considered for what are regarded as mild felonies or in the case of first-time offenders.

Anyone who is convicted of a felony that involves a violent crime such as murder and felony sexual assault will not be eligible for felony probation. If you have a history of violence, even if those charges were misdemeanors and you’re currently being convicted of a non-violent felony, a judge will be unwilling to consider felony probation.

The key to felony probation in California is that you have to adhere to all of the rules connected to the probation. Failing to meet a single requirement or doing something you were told not to do while on probation will result in you being sent to prison.

If the judge decides that you’re a good candidate for felony probation, you’ll hear the term suspended sentence. This term is used to provide formal notice that should you violate the terms of your probation, you’ll be sent to prison. Should you get into trouble while you’re on felony probation, not only could the judge decide to chose to sentence you to jail, you could also face additional criminal charges.

Don’t expect felony probation to be something you can just breeze through. Most felony probation periods last from 3-5 years. During this time, your life will be under intense scrutiny and there will several terms and conditions you’ll have to meet.

Conditions that are attached to felony probation often include:

  • Regular meetings with your probation officer
  • Drug tests
  • Paying restitution to your victims
  • Mandatory community service
  • Submitting to home searches
  • Avoiding people who are specifically mentioned in the terms of your probation
  • Agreeing to not leave California

If you’re granted felony probation, it is in your best interest to pay careful attention to what the judge says. If you have any questions about the terms of your probation, you need to take those questions directly to your lawyer or probation officer. If you do make a mistake while you’re on felony probation, you should be honest about it, which could make a judge more tolerant and less likely to revoke your probation.


Non-Violent Crimes In California



When the average person thinks about criminals, they assume that the jails are full of violent people. It’s easy to think that these people should be off the street.

The truth is that a vast majority of the people who make their way through California’s legal system and land in jails and prisons are actually accused of and convicted of non-violent crimes.

Examples of non-violent crimes in California include:

The bulk of California’s non-violent crimes are actually drug and alcohol-related. Examples of these include public intoxication, drug possession and driving with an open container.

The second most common types of non-violent crimes in California involve things like property damage and theft.

The high number of non-violent crimes in California deals with each year is why there are so many different types of prisons in the state. There simply isn’t any reason to have someone who was convicted of embezzlement but who has never shown any violent tendencies to be sharing a cell with someone who has been charged with multiple felony assaults. Not only would this pose some serious security concerns, but it would also potentially open the state up to lawsuits if the embezzler was hurt.

Minimum security prisons are a good choice for non-violent individuals who have been convicted of felonies and sentenced to prison time.

It is important to understand that there are serious consequences associated with non-violent crimes. In many situations, the time spent in jail and any fees attached to the sentencing are just the tip of the iceberg.

Many people who have been convicted of a serious non-violent crime in California have found that their criminal history made it difficult to enjoy what others consider basic rights. Examples of this include:

  • Loss of gun ownership rights.
  • The inability to obtain professional licenses.
  • Difficulty in finding employment and even being banned from certain industries/job opportunities.
  • Educational challenges and limitations.
  • Difficulties finding housing.
  • Financial limitations.

The good news is that not all hope is lost for individuals who have been convicted of felony non-violent crimes. Many people believe that the non-violent nature of these individuals makes them ideal candidates for recovery and rehabilitation programs. The hope is that by showing them how bad choices led to their current situation, they can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

One of the mistakes that some people make is thinking that because they have been charged with a non-violent crime that their situation isn’t serious. It really is. As soon as you realize you’re going to be arrested, it’s important to start looking at all of your legal options so you can start putting together a plan that will minimize the damage the charges could potentially do to your future.


Safe Hiking Tips For California’s Trails



California has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. California weather provides you with the perfect excuse to hit those trails and enjoy some high-quality hikes. Before you do, make sure you take a few minutes to consider your safety.

Be Realistic About Your Fitness

Let’s face it. Most of us aren’t as in shape as we’d like to be. Overdoing it and getting exhausted while on one of California’s hiking trails differs from getting too tired while working out at the gym. It’s far more dangerous. When hiking it’s better to underestimate your stamina and fitness than to overestimate it.

Don’t assume that being out of shape means you shouldn’t go hiking, it just means you need to do a little more planning. Consider both the length of the hike, if there are places to sit, how shaded the trail is, if the terrain is rough or smooth and the site’s overall elevation before starting your hike. Make sure you’re going to have enough energy to return to your car.

Bring Water

You’re going to get hot quickly. The heat and exertion increase the odds of your dehydrating so make sure you have plenty of water in your pack. Frequently take small sips, even if you don’t think you’re thirsty. Dehydration is something that sometimes catches people by surprise.

Pack A First Aid Kit

When you’re putting together your hiking pack, make sure there is a small, well-stocked first aid kit tucked into it. The first aid kit should include some topical antibiotics, band-aids and a wrap.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

While you’re hiking, keep your head up and your eyes off your phone. You need to be aware of your surroundings. Know what people are around you, be ready for wildlife and dogs that are off-leash. Don’t forget to pay attention to any stinging insects.

Let Someone Know Where You Are

Even though you might prefer hiking by yourself, you should at least make sure someone knows what trails you’re going to be on and when you intend to be done hiking. Letting someone in on your itinerary helps them know if you don’t return on time and helps them direct people to the area where they should start looking for you.

Don’t assume that just because all of your past hikes have been successful that you won’t get lost or hurt on your next one.

When it comes to hiking, you always want to make safety your priority.


Is Drug Possession A California Felony?



It might surprise you to learn that the bulk of the drug possession charges that make their way through the California legal system are actually misdemeanors.

For the most part, the type and amount of drug a person is in possession of when they’re arrested determine whether they’re charged with misdemeanor or felony drug possession in California.

California has divided drugs into different “Schedules” which helps determine how a person who is in possession of certain drugs will be charged and what the consequences will be if they’re convicted. Schedule V drugs are prescription drugs that have few addictive properties and are rarely abused. In comparison, Schedule I drugs are drugs that have little to no medicinal value and have a high risk of addiction and abuse. Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, peyote and ecstasy.

A guilty conviction of first offense misdemeanor drug possession in California can result in a maximum sentence of one year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine and community service. The sentence can double if the convicted has a history of drug possession charges on their record.

The sentencing becomes significantly more severe when a person is found guilty of felony drug possession in California. A guilty conviction can have a sentence that ranges from 16 months to 3 full years in a state prison. The sentence will also often include large fines, community service and felony probation.

It’s important to note that additional charges can be added to simple drug possession charges in California. A guilty conviction of a possession with intent to sell has a much more severe sentence and long-term implication than a simple drug possession conviction.

Other things that can make a drug possession charge worse include getting caught with drugs while committing another crime, such as burglary. Having the drugs on you when you assault another person. Having drugs and a weapon in your possession at the same time.

Getting caught with drugs, even a small amount of a relatively minor drug when a person is within 1,000 feet of a posted, no-drug zone, is even more severe. When you’re caught with drugs in a drug-free zone, you violate a federal law that very clearly states that the sentence will be twice the maximum punishment you’d normally face when convicted of a drug possession charge. That applies to both drug possession misdemeanors and felonies.


What’s The Difference Between An Accomplice And An Accessory?



If you think an accessory and an accomplice are the same thing, you’re not alone. Lots of people think that way. However, in the eyes of the law, they are actually two very different people.

Both accessory and accomplice are terms the legal system uses to refer to people who were involved in a crime. The difference is how much knowledge and participation the person had.

An accomplice is someone who knows about the crime and voluntarily helps. This can be someone who signals that a building is open, provides a person with someone’s banking information or drives the car that’s used to make a fast getaway from a crime. There are situations when an accessory can be charged as both an accomplice and an accessory. Accomplice charges are usually written up as aiding and abetting.

From a legal standpoint, an accessory is someone who gets involved with the crime after the fact. Typically, they learn about the crime and work to help misdirect the police with the idea that it will help the actual perpetrator evade charges. A person can be charged as an accessory without also being an accomplice.

When trying to decide if an individual should be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, the prosecutor has to look at the individual’s history and the type of crime that was committed. In many cases, the deciding factor is whether the original crime is a felony or misdemeanor.

The maximum sentence attached to a misdemeanor accessory conviction is a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. The maximum sentence for a felony accessory conviction is a $5,000 fine and three years in a state prison.

The way that California’s aiding and abetting laws are written means that an accomplice can face the exact same consequences for the crime as the person who actually committed the act. For example, the getaway driver of a bank is technically an accomplice, they didn’t rob the bank, they simply drove a car. However, as an accomplice, they will still face bank robbery charges. Whether they face as severe of charges as the individual who actually broke into the bank will depend on several different factors.

To convict someone as an accomplice, the prosecution has to prove that they had knowledge of the crime, knew they were assisting in the crime and that they were doing so voluntarily.


How To Handle A False Accusation Of A Crime



One of the biggest fears most people have is that they will be falsely accused of a crime and the accusation will destroy their life.

It’s difficult to get a handle on how big a problem false accusations are for the judicial system, but the one thing everybody agrees on is that false accusations do happen. One lawyer estimates that about 30-40% of the cases they handled throughout their career involved a client who had either been falsely accused of a crime or had been over-charged for crimes.

Avoid the temptation to rant and rave and yell about false accusations. It is in your best interest to remain calm and listen to what the police have to say. While being upset is perfectly understandable, losing your temper will likely only result in you missing important details that you can use in your defense and could even lead to additional charges.

The second thing you need to do is forget any idea that you can resolve the matter by yourself. You need to contact an experienced criminal law lawyer and hire them as quickly as possible. Once you’ve hired your lawyer, make sure they are always present whenever you speak to the police. Let them know that you were falsely accused of the crime you’ve been charged with. Not only will your lawyer help you prepare a solid defense and navigate the complicated process, but they also have the tools and resources needed to get to the heart of the false accusations and will use the information they gain to get the charges dropped.

When it comes to false accusations, your first priority is proving your innocence. Once, you’ve done that, you and your lawyer can decide how you want to handle the person who made the false claims.

You can choose to press both criminal and civil charges against the person who filed false charges against you, but there is one thing you must keep in mind, the burden of proof is on you. Proving that they were the person behind the accusations that led to charges against you is usually the easy part. The difficult part is proving that they knew they were falsely accusing you and did so with malice.

The most important thing to remember when you’re dealing with a false allegations case is that any communications between you and the person who falsely accused you must be handled by your lawyer. Any direct contact between you could jeopardize your case.


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