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Trick-or-Treat Safety

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Finally! Halloween is here. Not only does that mean cooler weather, pumpkin spice coffee, and an excuse to snuggle up with a good book rather than going out, kid will tell you that it’s time for free candy.

While kids love trick-or-treating, parents often have mixed feelings about the popular activity. Yes, it’s great to see how excited your kids get each year. The problem is that each year, parents worry how they will keep their child safe while they go from one house to another.

The good news is that there are things you can do to insure trick-or-treat safety while also allowing your children free rein to enjoy the holiday.

Make sure your children are visible, even if they’re out after dark. This isn’t complicated. Simply arm your child with a flashlight, and incorporate some flashing lights and reflective strips into their costume.

Remind your child about the rules of the road. Kids are so excited about being dressed up and obtaining as much free candy as possible, that they can easily forget things like watching for traffic. Before they head out to trick-or-treat it’s really important to remind them that they have to be respectful of motorist who are driving along the streets.

Trick-or-treat as either a family or friend unit. Instead of sending your child out on their own to trick-or-treat, make this an opportunity to make some excellent family memories and go out with your children. If work or life makes it impossible for you to join in the trick-or-treating fun, arrange for your child to go out with friends or other family members. Your child is far safer in a group than they are by themselves. Make sure a responsible adult will be watching over your children the entire time they are trick-or-treating.

Your children will want to eat their candy right away, but encourage them to wait until you get home. Waiting gives you an opportunity to inspect their candy and make sure it hasn’t been tampered with, plus it means your child isn’t potentially stopping in the middle of intersections in order to snatch a sugary treat.

Covid-19 is still a concern so make sure you keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on you and frequently apply it to your child’s hands. Remind them not to touch their face until they’re home and able to thoroughly wash their hands.

What steps are you taking to keep your child safe while trick-or-treating this holiday season?


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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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What to Do if You’re Being Stalked

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Every single year, approximately 7.5 million Americans become the victims of a stalker. If you suspect that you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker you must remain calm while simultaneously taking steps to protect yourself.

Don’t Dismiss the Threat

One of the biggest mistakes many stalking victims make is deciding that they are imagining things or that the situation isn’t all that serious. When it comes to a stalker, it’s best to be over-cautious. Being the victim of a stalker not only puts your mental health at risk, but it can also be life-threatening. The University of Gloucestershire conducted a six-month study that revealed that stalking was a component in 94% of the studied homicides.

As soon as you even suspect you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker, you need to take steps to protect yourself.

Block Your Social Media Accounts

Social media has made stalking easier than ever before. Routing posts provide an incredible amount of information that a stalker will use against you. When you feel that you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker, set all of your online profiles to private and stop posting updates, particularly updates that a stalker could use to figure out where you’re going and your routine.

Alert Loved Ones to the Situation

Even if you only have a funny feeling about someone, you should talk to your loved ones about the situation. Not only will they help you decide if you’re imagining things, but they can also take steps to make sure you’re protected. A perfect example of how alerting a loved one to the situation will help you out is that they’ll be willing to accompany you on errands. Not only is there safety in numbers, but the second pair of eyes means you will have a witness to the stalking which will strengthen your case if you have to press charges.

Start Keeping a Record

Pull out a notebook and start recording everything that relates to your stalker. This record should include gifts you’ve received, any time they’ve been in the same location as you, and all virtual and in-person conversations you’ve had with them. It’s a good idea to keep copies of these records in different locations. The data you collect will be a key piece of evidence against your stalker.

Get Serious About Personal Protection

You can’t afford to get casual with your personal protection. As soon as you feel that you’re becoming the victim of a stalker, you need to take a long look at your current situation and evaluate how you can make it safer. You need to lock your doors. You need to alert loved ones about where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Consider taking a self-defense class. Get into the habit of frequently checking in with loved ones. You may even want to consider staying with a friend or loved one until you can figure out how to resolve the situation.

Talk to the Police

As soon as you start to feel threatened by the stalker, it’s time to contact the police. The amount of protection they can provide will depend on your exact circumstances. Even if the situation hasn’t escalated to the point of you being able to obtain a restraining order or file charges against your stalker, contacting the authorities is always a good idea since it officially shows that you’re concerned about the situation and creates yet another record that strengthens your case. The police will also likely have some advice about additional steps you can take to protect yourself.

The most important thing to remember when you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker is to cut your ties with them and to trust your instincts.


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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.


Loitering laws in california

Loitering in California

Loitering laws in california

For the most part, loitering is harmless and doesn’t bother anyone, but there are times when someone will object to your behavior. When this happens, the irritated person may call the cops. It’s at this point that you learn the legal ins and outs of loitering in California.

Loitering in California is a little difficult to define. Loitering is essentially the act of hanging out somewhere when you don’t have any particular need to be in that place. Sitting in a restaurant and chatting with friends even though you are no longer eating, lingering at the bus stop so you can people watch, and soaking up the sun in a convenience store parking lot are all examples of loitering.

The issue of loitering in California became a legal aspect of interest in 1983 when the U.S. Supreme Court officially heard Edward Lawson’s case. Lawson was arrested a total of 15 times during 18 months when he started walking through the “white neighborhoods” of San Diego and Los Angeles. Lawson objected to the fact that when he was questioned, the police didn’t always tell him that they were police officers and that they seldom explained why they were questioning/arresting him.

After hearing Lawson’s case, the Supreme Court looked at California’s penal codes and made an important decision. They felt that the way the Penal Code was written in California gave the police too much freedom. This prompted the state to become more specific about loitering crimes.

There are several different ways a loitering charge can be written up. The type of loitering you’re charged with depends on why the police were called and why they believe you were hanging around in that area.

Most loitering charges involve:

  • Trespassing
  • Failing to dispense (this is often connected with attempting to incite a riot)
  • Loitering at a school
  • Loitering with the intent to commit prostitution
  • Loitering to solicit the purchase of alcohol
  • Loitering with the intent to commit a crime

While each type of charge is a little different, if charged with any of these types of loitering in California offenses, you’ll face misdemeanor charges. The top penalty for the first offense with most of the charges is up to a $1,000 fine, a six-month stay in a county jail, community service.

The second time you’re charged with the same offense, the penalties can double.

The best way to avoid gaining first-hand knowledge of how the legal system deals with loitering in California is by staying calm and making it very apparent to everyone who passes by that you’re not doing anything but enjoying the scenery and the fantastic California weather.


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.


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.