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Fall Camping Safety Tips in California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Wet and Reckless in California

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If you’ve never heard of a wet and reckless charge in California, you’re not alone. Very few people are aware of them. Most of the people who do know about wet reckless driving offenses are lawyers who specialize in DUI cases.

What is a Wet Reckless Driving Charge in California

A patrol officer won’t write a wet reckless ticket. The only way you’ll ever get such a thing is if you’ve been arrested for a DUI in California and your lawyer can talk it down to a wet reckless charge. The fact that it’s not a traditional driving violation is the reason so few people have even heard of wet reckless driving.

A wet reckless charge is a plea agreement the California lawyers use in drunk driving cases. They usually only apply the first time a person is involved in a DUI. The biggest difference between a wet reckless charge and a traditional DUI conviction is that the consequences connected to a wet reckless charge are milder than those attached to a DUI. In many cases, people find that having a wet reckless charge on their file doesn’t create as many problems when employers run a background check.

In the past, some lawyers haven’t been fans of wet reckless charges, but changes made in 2021 have altered their stance.

How a Wet and Reckless Compares to a DUI

If you’re able to plea a DUI down to a wet reckless in California, there is no automatic suspension of your driver’s license, though there is an exception. If the DMV learns that your wet reckless charge resulted from a BAC of 0..08% they can still suspend your license, though the suspension might not last as long. It’s also important to understand that the charge will result in two points being added to your driving record.

A wet reckless charge doesn’t involve mandatory jail time. If the judge does sentence you to jail, the maximum amount of time you would serve is 90-days.

You’ll probably still be required to take a few DUI classes, but it’s normally far fewer than you’d have to take if you were charged with a formal DUI.

While there is still a probationary period connected to a wet reckless conviction, it’s significantly shorter. The probation for a wet reckless is generally one to two years, whereas for a DUI it’s three to five years long. This can have a huge impact on your life if you plan on moving out of state or doing much traveling.

Wet and reckless charges aren’t applicable in every single DUI situation. You’ll have to consult with a highly experienced DUI attorney to determine if this is the route you should take following a DUI arrest.


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Should You Open Your Door When Someone Knocks?

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There is a knock on your door. You stand beside the door for several seconds torn between the urge to open it and find out who is on the other side and a genuine concern that opening the door could jeopardize your safety.

Knocks in the Middle of the Night

The general rule of thumb is that if a stranger knocks on your door in the middle of the night, you shouldn’t let them in. Even if the person says that they are in trouble, keep your door locked. That does not mean you have to walk away from the situation. You can continue to speak to the individual through your locked door and you can also call for help.

The reason you should not open your door to a stranger in the middle of the night is that claiming to need help is an old con that thieves use to gain access to a home. Many people who were acting as Good Samaritans have been injured or killed after letting an allegedly injured person into their home.

Kids and Door Knocks

If you have children in your home, teach them that they should never open the door, no matter who claims to be knocking on it. Kids have a trusting nature and are excited to find out who is knocking on the door. This can lead to all sorts of trouble. Advise your child to inquire about the name of the person on the other side of the door and then to alert the responsible adult who is in the home.

If someone you know is coming to your home, ask them to use their cell phone and call you when they reach your home rather than knocking on your door and temping your child to open the door.

Use a Door Bell Camera

It’s a good idea to get a doorbell camera. These are great inventions. Even better than peepholes because you can view the footage on your smartphone, well away from the front door. Not only does the doorbell camera allow you to see exactly who is on the other side of the door, but it turns out to be a threatening or suspicious individual, you can show the footage to the police.

When it comes to people knocking on your door, especially people you don’t know, it pays to be cautious.


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Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in California

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Kids and hot cars are never a good combination. Everyone knows that, yet there is still an average of 38 children who die each year after they’re locked into a hot car.

In all fairness, nearly all of these cases are an accident. The child is strapped into their car seat in the back of the vehicle and the driver simply forgets that they’re there until it’s too late. There are even situations when the parent accidentally locked the car keys in the vehicle with the child.

While accidents do happen, children overheating in the car something everyone would like to forget. If you’re traveling with a small child who can’t possibly let themselves out of the car, you need to figure out what steps you can take to make sure they aren’t accidentally forgotten. The hotter it gets, the more you’re going to have to worry.

One of the things that might help you remember that your child is in the backseat of your car is understanding that it’s illegal to leave your child there. California passed Kaitlyn’s Law in 2001. The law was created in memory of Kaitlyn Russel, who was only six months old when she died after her babysitter forgot her in a hot car for over two hours.

Kaitlyn’s Law not only makes it illegal to leave an infant in the car, but it also makes it illegal to leave an infant in the care of anyone who isn’t at least 12 years old if the vehicle is running or there are keys in the ignition and if there are unsafe conditions, such as overheating.

Kaitlyn’s Law makes it illegal to leave your unsupervised infant in the car period. So even if there is no danger of them overheating, you still have to bring them into the store or appointment with you.

Leaving a child under the age of six in a vehicle when they have no supervision can result in a $100 fine. It’s not unusual for the judge to waive the fine after you’ve completed a community education program.

In many cases, leaving a young, unsupervised child in the car, especially on a hot day, will result in you being charged with child endangerment. It is one of California’s wobbler offenses. In felony cases, you could face up to six years in prison. In misdemeanor situations, you could be sentenced to a year in county jail. In both situations, the Child Welfare Service will likely become involved and decide if you should retain custody of your child.


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Can You Get Into Trouble for Using a Computer That Doesn’t Belong to You?

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We’ve all done it from time to time. Grabbed a friend or family member’s laptop to check our email or update our social media accounts. Most of us ask for permission first. But what if you don’t ask for permission? What happens if you simply boot up someone else’s computer and start using it.

While each situation is different, in legal terms, if you use someone’s computer without getting their permission first, you can be charged with a crime. You’d be charged with violating Penal Code 502 PC. This law states that:

“It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to expand the degree of protection afforded to individuals, businesses, and governmental agencies from tampering, interference, damage, and unauthorized access to lawfully created computer data and computer systems. The Legislature finds and declares that the proliferation of computer technology has resulted in a concomitant proliferation of computer crime and other forms of unauthorized access to computers, computer systems, and computer data.

The Legislature further finds and declares that protection of the integrity of all types and forms of lawfully created computers, computer systems, and computer data is vital to the protection of the privacy of individuals as well as to the well-being of financial institutions, business concerns, governmental agencies, and others within this state that lawfully utilize those computers, computer systems, and data.”

This means that not only are you not allowed to boot up another person’s computer without their permission, you’re also not allowed to use their computer network or any of their software. You should also be aware that in most situations using another person’s cell phone without their permission would also be covered by the same law.

Most of California’s unauthorized use of a computer cases involve additional charges which frequently include fraud, identity theft, and trespassing.

At this point, unauthorized computer access is one of California’s wobbler laws. The exact circumstances of the situation determine if you face misdemeanor or felony charges.

If you are convicted of misdemeanor unauthorized computer use, the maximum sentence is twelve months in county jail and a fine that doesn’t exceed $5,000. Felony convictions can include a three-year stint in state prison and as much as $10,000. Probation is an option in both felony and misdemeanor cases.

While there are defenses you can use in an unauthorized use of a computer case, putting one together isn’t easy. In order to win, you’ll have to prove that you were actually given permission or that you didn’t realize it wasn’t your computer or cell phone.

The best way to avoid an unauthorized use of computer charge is trying to use your own electronics’ as much as possible.


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Understanding Battery in California

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Assault charges can be confusing, mostly because the law has so many nuances and different stages of things. The simplest way to look at things is to understand that any assault and battery charge involves someone getting into an altercation with another person.

California’s Penal Code sections 240 and 242 deals with assault and battery. The law defines battery \ and battery as, “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.”

Don’t assume that simply because the person that you allegedly assaulted wasn’t hurt that the charges will simply go away. The way the law is written, simply grabbing another person’s shirt without their consent can be grounds to file assault and battery charges against you.

Even though assault and battery charges often seem like the same thing. In California, you could potentially be charged with just assault or just battery. The reason for this is because California lawmakers consider assault as an attempt to use physical force to threaten/harm whereas battery happens when you carry through with the threat and genuinely harm the other person.

If convicted of misdemeanor battery, the maximum sentence you’d receive is misdemeanor probation, up to six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine.

If the battery case involves a police officer, a guilty conviction could result in twice as severe consequences.


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California Laws Ride Share Drivers Need to Understand

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Rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft are a great way for some people to supplement their income. The programs are designed so that you get to choose your hours. In some cities, people have found that they were able to live a respectful living as a rideshare driver.

The problem some people encounter is that they aren’t properly prepared for the reality of becoming part of a rideshare program. There are some legal issues you should review before you pick up your first customer.

As rideshare programs gained popularity, California lawmakers realized that they needed to step in and start regulating the practice. This led to the creation of several state laws. It’s important to understand that these state laws pertain to anyone who is part of a rideshare program, it doesn’t matter if you’re a full-time driver or if you’re picking up your first passenger.

California state laws rideshare drivers must familiarize themselves with include:

  • A sticker that identifies you as a rideshare driver has to be prominently displayed on your vehicle. One sticker on the windshield, one on the rear window.
  • You must consent to an annual background check
  • The vehicle you use for rideshares must be inspected every 12 months or every 50,000 miles
  • You must pick up and transport customers who have service dogs
  • Vehicles used for rideshares must adhere to California’s current climate emission levels

Rideshare drivers are impacted by Assembly Bill NO. 5 which went into law on January 1, 2020. The law officially changed your status from that of a freelance contractor who simply provided work for Uber or Lyft to that of an employee.

Issues concerning Assembly Bill NO. 5 resulted in a case appearing in the California Superior Court where a judge ruled that both Uber and Lyft were legally responsible for paying drivers a mandated benefit, over time, business-expenses, and minimum wage.

Personal safety and liability issues have been raised by both drivers and passengers. At this point, there aren’t any laws that require rideshare drivers to install a dashboard camera in their vehicle, which would prevent false claims from being filed against drivers, but it is still a good idea.

The most important thing to remember is that you will have to claim any money you make as a rideshare driver and pay taxes on it. Get into the habit of keeping detailed rideshare financial records so that if you’re ever audited, you won’t have to worry about getting a bill for back taxes and unclaimed income from the IRS.


public decency laws

Avoid Inappropriate Public Display Of Affection This Valentines Day

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One of the great things about Valentine’s Day is it provides you with an opportunity to look at your current relationship. Many people use the holiday as an excuse to try to inject some added spice into a relationship that has fallen into a comfortable rut. For some couples, this involves experimenting with public sex.

Here’s the thing about public sex. It can be exciting. It can make your relationship feel new and risky (in a fun way.) A little round of public Valentine’s Day sex is just the kind of thing you and your partner will reminisce about for years.

In books and movies, public sex is always hot and romantic. If the couple gets caught, they’re generally either embarrassed or laugh it off. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a romance novel. Here in the real world, a round of public Valentine’s Day sex (or public sex on any other day) can get you tossed in jail.

The issue of public sex is addressed in California’s Penal Code 647. The code clearly states that “An individual who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view,” violates the law.

In California, you can’t have sex in any public area, or even on private property if there is a reasonable chance of innocent passersby viewing you.

If you’re found guilty of Valentine’s Day public sex, you’ll be convicted of lewd or dissolute conduct. It’s a misdemeanor.

The sentence can include:

  • Six months in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

The one good thing is that as long as the charges don’t include indecent exposure, you won’t have to register as a sex offender.

A possible defense to a Valentine’s Day public sex charge is that you had reasonable expectations that no one would see you.


Consequences of brake checking

The Ins and Outs of Brake Checking in California

Consequences of brake checking

It has happened to all of us. You’re driving along at what you think is a perfectly acceptable speed when you notice a car behind you. Under most circumstances, the other car wouldn’t bother you, but this driver has decided you’re not going fast enough so they proceed to get as close to your bumper as they possibly can with the hopes that it will encourage you to step on the gas.

Some of us can ignore this behavior. Other drivers will speed up. Then there are those of us who decide this is the perfect time for a brake check.

What is a Brake Check?

A brake check is stepping on your brakes, hard, for no reason other than to startle the driver behind you into backing off.

Are Brake Checks Legal?

While the idea of brake checking the driver behind you seems appealing, you should stop and consider the consequences before you do so. California’s highway patrol is quick to point out that drivers who brake check are quite possibly breaking vehicle code 2209. That means you could be the person who gets the ticket.

The problem with brake checking is that most of these instances tend to involve two aggressive drivers. The driver in the lead is irritated that they’re being pushed. The driver that’s tailgating is irritated that they’re not traveling faster. Too often what starts off as tailgating and brake checking leads to a nasty road rage incident.

How you should Respond if Someone is Tailgating you

Rather than brake checking the driver who is tailgating you, you should employ one of two methods designed to get them off your bumper.

The first is to simply ignore them. If they don’t want to pass, simply keep driving until they finally give in and either slow down or work their way around you. If you decide to do this, don’t slow down, which the other driver could perceive as an aggressive move.

The second thing you can do is pull over and let the other driver go around you. Only do this when you’re in a location where you can safely do so.

If the situation doesn’t get better or you feel that the other driver poses a threat, you can call the police and report the situation. Make sure you give them your location, the direction your traveling, and a description of the car that’s tailgating you.


landlord rights in california

What Are Your Rights When a Tenant Will Not Move Out of Your Home?

landlord rights in california

Owning a rental property is a great opportunity to earn extra money while also helping resolve a small portion of California’s rental housing crisis.

While there are many good things that go along with owning a rental property there are also some downsides. One such drawback is when you have a tenant who simply refuses to move out of your home.

The good news is that there are some things you can do.

California law states that you have a right to tell your tenant that they’re evicted when they’ve:

  • Failed to pay their rent
  • When they do something that blatantly breaks the rental contract, such as having a dog in a no-pets property
  • The tenant has done so much damage to the property that it’s lowered the overall property value
  • The tenant is on the property when they break the law
  • The neighborhood has repeatedly reported that the tenant is a nuisance

You can also evict a California tenant when they fail to move out after the lease agreement has expired.

California doesn’t allow you to simply tell your tenant that they’re evicted and need to vacate the premises. There’s a legal process you must go through.

The first step involves sending a formal lease termination notice to the tenant. It’s in your best interest to send this notice via registered mail. One exception to the lease termination notice is in Epp California where landlords are allowed to send a simple 60-day notice instead.

Before you can file for an eviction, you must provide the tenant with a minimum of three days to either get caught up on repairs or deal with whatever contact violation led to the eviction notice. Just because three-days have passed doesn’t mean you can change the locks. Now it’s time to file get the court system involved. The fact your tenant didn’t respond to the eviction notice indicates that they want to fight the situation.

The tenant has the right to remain on the property until the court says they have to move out.

As the landlord, you’ll be pleased to know that most tenants don’t want to get the court involved. Most prefer to leave your property quietly because they don’t want an eviction on their record. That kind of black mark makes it nearly impossible for them to find a nice to rent in the future.

Just because your tenant has moved off your property, it doesn’t mean you’re done with them. They will want their security deposit back. You have 21 days to go through the property and make a note of any damage they left behind. At this point, you have to either refund the security deposit or explain why they won’t get it. If you’re not returning the full security deposit you have to provide your former tenant with a written explanation. The explanation should include an itemized list of deductions that make it clear that the repairs needed match or exceed the security deposit.