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Is Social Media a Danger to You?

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Social media is extremely important to many of us. We use it to develop careers, stay in touch with friends and family, learn new hobbies, and make life altering connections. As much as we love social media, there are times when we find ourselves wondering if the channels we’re using could be potentially dangerous to us.

The truth is that there are some times and some circumstances when social media is a danger to you. The good news is that once you’re able to identify the signs that social media is potentially becoming dangerous allows you to tweak how you use your social media accounts so that you can restore them to the safe escape you previously enjoyed.

Over Sharing Information About Your Location

Honestly, the biggest way that social media becomes a danger to you is when you share information about your location. While letting friends and family members know exactly when you’re dining at a your favorite café and instantly sharing holiday pics might seem like a great idea at the time, they also provide criminals with a great deal of insight into your life. Doing share any information that lets people know when you’re not home, where your exact location is at a given time, or provides valuable insight into your daily routine. You simply don’t know when a criminal will be paying attention to your posts or how they could decide to benefit from the information.

Not Thinking How a Post Could Hurt Your Career

Before you post a cutting comment about your manager or an inappropriate photo of you at work, remember that you simply can’t trust your privacy settings. Assume that there are was your boss or co-workers could gain access to your social media account. Before you post a picture, comment, or share an article, take some time to think about if the social media post could negatively impact your career or even get you fired. If it could, resist the impulse to share the post.

Losing Track of Time

The biggest danger connected to social media is that if you’re not careful it can quickly take over your entire life. More than one person has logged onto their social media account with the idea that they will only spend a few minutes responding to a few comments only to lose track of time. This can result in negatively impacting your relationships, professional life, and even lead to a deterioration in your health.

Set a time each time you log onto your social media accounts and log out each time that timer goes off. This will do wonders to limit the impact the negative impact social media has on your life.

Bullying

There is something about social media that makes some people think that it is okay to engage is cyber bullying. This behavior has resulted in all sorts of psychological problems for the person who is being bullied. If someone’s online behavior is having a negative impact on your life, it’s time to block them from your social media accounts. If you’re unable to block them, delete your accounts and dedicate the time you had spent on social media to self-care. You’ll be amazed by how much this improves our overall attitude towards life.

What steps have you taken to make sure social media doesn’t become a danger to you?


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California Public Intoxication Laws

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MMany people assume that as long as they don’t get behind the wheel and try driving home they don’t have to worry about how much they drink when they go out. While the decision to never drive after you’ve been drinking is always wise, that doesn’t mean you can get a plastered as you want. There is always a chance that your night of heavy drinking at the bar could result in you getting arrested for public intoxication in California.

The good news is that if you simply have one too many while you’re at the bar, you probably don’t have too much to worry about. California lawmakers have made it obvious that the only time legal concerns and public intoxication combine is when you’re so heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol that you’re unable to keep yourself and others safe.

For example, if you’re so drunk that you aren’t aware of traffic and start walking down the middle of the road, you’ll be arrested and charged with public intoxication. The same is true if you get so drunk while you’re at the bar that your normal mild-mannered nature abandons you and you start making threats or behaving in a lewd manner.

Public intoxication in California is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. In many cases, the individual must perform a specified number of community service hours.

The good news about public intoxication is that it won’t impact your driving record. The bad news is that the charge could hurt your future. It’s possible that the charge will make it harder to qualify for scholarships, land your dream job, and be approved for an apartment rental.

The only way you can be charged with public intoxication is if you’re in a public area. That means the best way to avoid the charge is staying home when you decide you want to spend the evening drinking.


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Crosswalk Safety in California

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Walking to work means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in a traffic jam. It’s a great way to build some stamina while also burning a few calories. It also provides you with the means to start slowing down and develop a connection with the world you live in.

Just don’t think that walking to work is safer than driving yourself. A surprising number of California pedestrians are killed annually. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 972 pedestrian deaths in 2019. Approximately 22% of fatal traffic episodes in California involve a pedestrian. These alarming statistics prompted California lawmakers to pass the “Right-of-Way at Crosswalks” law.

The Right-of-Way law is written up in Code, Section 21950(a). When you read through the formal law, you’ll learn that drivers are legally required to yield to a pedestrian who is strolling through a crosswalk. The law requires that drivers yield to the pedestrian in both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The implementation of the law also requires that drivers use a little additional care when approaching a crosswalk and be on the lookout for pedestrians who may be about to step onto the street. If a pedestrian is stepping onto the street, the driver will have to stop to allow the pedestrian to safely cross the road.

Another issue that’s dealt with in the Right-of-Way law is passing while driving through a crosswalk. Passing while driving through a crosswalk is dangerous for several reasons, including that the passing driver may not see a pedestrian until it’s too late.

The interesting thing about California’s Right-of-Way law is that it’s designed to protect the rights of both pedestrians and drivers. Drivers do have the right away at crosswalks that are controlled with signals, provided the signal indicates that the driver can go. In this situation, the pedestrians are supposed to yield for drivers. However, drivers do have to wait for slow-moving pedestrians who may be struggling to reach the opposite side in a timely fashion, and the driver must be prepared to take safe and evasive action if a distracted pedestrian fails to notice the sign.

Drivers who are caught failing to adhere to California’s Right-of-Way law will likely receive a traffic citation which will involve a steep fine, points, and the possibility of having the state consider revoking their driving privileges.


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California Ear Bud Laws

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Earbuds are awesome. They provide you with a way to tune out all the noise connected to the world and lose yourself in music, white noise, audiobooks, and podcasts. The earbuds fit snugly into your ear so that you don’t have to worry about anyone being disturbed by what you’re listening to.

What you might not know is that California does have some earbud laws that could impact you.

Cars and Earbuds

The first is you aren’t allowed to drive with earbuds in your ears. Not even if you’re using them to use your cell phone. The reason driving with earbuds in both of your ears is strictly prohibited in California is because lawmakers believe that the noise-canceling features of earbuds make it difficult to identify and react to outside stimuli that could prevent you from getting into an accident. It’s also possible that having the sound pumped directly into your ears, rather than coming from your radio speakers serves as a distraction.

There is some wiggle room. The law reads that you can’t restrict both ears, but doesn’t say anything about having an earbud in a single ear.

It’s worth noting that even if you don’t have anything pumping through the earbuds, you still can’t drive with two earbuds.

If you are caught driving while wearing earbuds, the experience will cost you. The traffic violation will cost $160 plus court costs, plus any other violations the traffic officer is able to cite you with.

California Bikes and Earbuds

Don’t assume that just because you’re on a bike, you can get away with wearing earbuds. The same law that applies to drivers also applies to bikers. You can have an earbud in one ear, but not in both. If you’re caught with both ears covered, you will be ticketed.


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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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Evacuating from Wildfires

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Wildfires are terrifying. Not only do they happen unexpectedly but they leave a path of total destruction in their wake. If there is a wildfire in your area, you should start preparing for evacuation as soon as you hear the news. Getting started early means you’ll be ready to go if the police do issue a formal evacuation notice.

Fill Up Your Gas Tank

When there is a wildfire in the vicinity, the last thing most people want to think about is gasoline, but taking a trip to the nearest gas station should be your first priority. Fill up your car’s gas tank so that it’s ready to go if there’s an ordered evacuation. The full gas tank allows you to quickly put a safe amount of space between you and the wildfire.

Secure Your Pets

If you have pets, you should plan on bringing them with you. The problem is that the smell of smoke and your anxiety changes their behavior. This makes it difficult to catch them. Rather than run the risk of them getting lose or you being unable to load them into the car, catch them as soon as possible.

Pack Your Vehicle

The next thing you need to do is pack your vehicle. The idea is to have everything ready to go so that as soon as the police issue an evacuation order, you can jump in your vehicle and hit the road. Items you should pack include water, some quick snacks, money, important papers, pet supplies, and enough clothing to get you through a few days.

Fireproof Your Home

Once you’ve prepared for a possible wildfire evacuation, you can go around your home and prepare it for a wildfire. While there isn’t a lot you can do to save your home if the wildfire reaches your property, you can do things that lower the risk. Simple things that can be done include moving anything flammable, such as gas cans, bags of leaves, and paint can at least 30 feet from your home’s foundation. Clear dead leaves from your gutters. Make sure there isn’t anything in your yard that could make it difficult for firefighters to reach your home.

Good luck and stay safe!


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Off-roading in California’s State and National Parks

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Off-roading isn’t just a lot of fun, it’s also a great way to see parts of California’s state and national parks you wouldn’t otherwise, get to see. Off-roading provides you with the means to visit more remote areas than the traditional roads take you to, while also allowing you to cover more ground than you would if you were hiking or biking.

While there are many benefits connected to off-roading through California’s state and national parks, going off-road also means you have some additional responsibilities you must adhere to.

Make Sure Your Permit is Current

You’re not allowed to hop into your ATV and start tooling around California’s state and national parks. The only people who are allowed to enjoy off-road adventures are those who have the proper permits.

If you’re going on an off-road adventure in one of California’s state parks, you need to fill out an application with California’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The vehicle you are using must comply with current state environmental codes, and your off-highway vehicle permit must be kept current. The OHV permit is $25 if you’re purchasing a season-long pass. You only have to pay $5 for a day pass.

If you’re not a California resident, you still have to purchase an OHV permit before you can embark on an off-road adventure through the truly stunning state parks. The cost of the permit for non-residents is $30.

Off-Roading in National Parks

Some people make the mistake of thinking that because they got an OHV permit from the state, that they can also go off-roading in California’s national parks. That’s not the case. The National Park Service manages the National Parks and has its own permit. You’ll have to contact the National Park Service to learn about the application process and cost of the off-road permit.

Follow the Rules

Don’t assume that your off-road permit allows you to go anywhere and do whatever you want. That’s not the case at all. The National Park Service in particular is diligent about enforcing rules that pertain to what you can and can’t do while off-roading. Breaking one of the rules could end up costing you a lot of money.

If you’re going off-roading it’s important to find out exactly where you can and can’t go. Most parks have maps and even post the areas where you’re not allowed to take your off-road vehicle.

Simply getting caught off-roading in a section of a National Park, where off-roading is prohibited, is considered a violation of Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations. If you’re convicted of the violation, you could be sentenced to as much as 6 months in prison and also fined $5,000. Additional charges that are often added to this violation include violating an endangered
species, littering, wildlife, plants, and natural or cultural features violations, and damaging archeological resources.

Have fun on all of your off-road adventures this summer!


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Can You Go to Jail for Online Scams?

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If you’re wondering if you can go to jail for instigating an online scam, the answer is yes.

If your wondering if you will go to jail for an online scam you’ve run, the answer isn’t as clear.

The first thing you need to understand is that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you’re using a dishonest method for getting money out of people, you’re running a scam and that is always illegal. It doesn’t matter if you managed to acquire $20 or $20,000, the scam was still illegal. If the police catch on to what you’re doing and have enough evidence, you will be charged.

The types of internet crimes individuals have been charged with in California include:

  • Phishing
  • Online credit card fraud
  • Romance scams
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Greeting card scams
  • Bank loan scams
  • Identity theft scams
  • Craigslist scams

The amount of money you collected via the online scam will influence whether you’ll go to jail if you’re convicted and also how long you’ll be imprisoned.

If the scam had minimal financial consequences, it’s likely that you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor. While the sentencing could include a year in jail, the judge may decide that you only have to pay a fine or do community service. You could also be placed on probation.

If you acquired a larger sum of money, it’s likely you’ll be charged with a felony. In that case the likelihood of you being sent to jail increases. If you’re convicted, the consequences could include being sentenced to time in a state prison, massive fines, and felony probation. The number of victims involved in the scam as well as your criminal history can also play a huge role in how much time you spend in jail as a result of internet crimes.

A stint in jail will likely be only one of the hardships you face following a guilty conviction for perpetrating an online scam. It’s likely that your victims will decide to file civil suits against you as well.


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Criminal Trespassing in California

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When you read through California Penal Code Section 602 you’ll learn that it’s illegal to come onto someone’s property without the owner’s permission. While this doesn’t mean you’ll face criminal charges each time you have to use someone’s driveway to turn around or when you stop in at a neighbor’s home to inquire about a lost pet, it does give the property owner the right to tell you that you’re not welcome on the property.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if you’re on someone else’s property and they request that you leave, failing to do so right away gives the property owner the right to call the police and file trespassing charges against you.

Refusing to leave a hotel or restaurant is another way trespassing charges can be filed against you.

Don’t assume that just because a person’s property is a business, that you can’t potentially be charged with trespassing. There have been cases of people who have gotten into a dispute with business owners/employees/other customers being arrested for trespassing after they entered the business and did things like harass people or refused to leave.

The majority of the trespassing cases that make their way through the California court system or considered misdemeanors. The maximum sentence for a guilty conviction is six months in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

It’s important to understand that it’s not uncommon for trespassing to be added to a list of additional charges that can include violating a personal protection order, property damage, assault, etc. When a judge looks at the additional charges they could decide to hand out a maximum sentence. If the trespassing charges look relatively minor and nothing indicates that you’re a habitual offender, the sentence could be minimal.

Aggravated Trespassing in California

Aggravated trespassing is an exception to the idea that all California trespassing cases are misdemeanors. Aggravated trespassing in California is one of California’s wobbler crimes.

According to Penal Code Section 602, aggravated trespassing in California takes place when a trespasser, “makes a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury to someone else with intent to place them in reasonable fear of their own safety or safety of their family, and who within 30 days of the threat, unlawfully enters their residence, property, or workplace with the intent to carry out the threat.”

If you’re convicted of felony aggravated trespassing, the sentence could include 16-21 months in prison, felony probation, and a $10,000 fine.


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California’s Drug Cultivation Laws

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Drug cultivation in California is addressed in Health and Safety Code 11379.6HS. The code clearly states that, “every person who manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis, any controlled substance specified in Section 11054, 11055, 11056, 11057, or 11058 shall be punished.”

Getting caught manufacturing, growing, or otherwise producing prohibited drugs in the state could result in a sentence that includes 3-7 years in a state prison and a fine as large as $50,000.

In many cases, manufacturing a controlled substance represents only one of the things you’ll be charged with. There are usually several charges filed at once.

Additional charges generally include:

  • Possession
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Transportation of drugs

If the police suspect you of manufacturing or dealing with a controlled substance in California, the last thing you want to do is make the situation worse. It’s in your best interest to cooperate with the police as much as you can, which includes not doing something like trying to resist arrest. The challenge is cooperating with the police but also not saying anything that could potentially incriminate you, which is why you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who has a strong background in cases that involve the manufacturing of controlled substances in California.

Drug cultivation laws involving marijuana can still be a bit confusing to some people. Many mistakenly believed that since marijuana is now a legal recreational drug in California, there are no drug cultivation laws involving marijuana. That’s not the case. At this point, the average person can only legally care for a maximum of six marijuana plants at a time. Only individuals who are over 21 can use it, and you can only legally carry 28.5 grams. Some cities have ordinances that prohibit cultivating marijuana outdoors, though you’re still legally able to do so in the comfort of your own home.