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Are you Being Stalked?

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Stalking is a major problem in the United States. Every single year there are about 6 million people who find themselves in a position of having to report stalking-related incidents.

While most stalking victims are women, that’s not always the case. Each year men, who often assume that they don’t have to worry about stalkers, find themselves being followed. Some female stalkers have even murdered their victims.

The sooner you recognize the early warning signs of a stalker, the safer you will ultimately be.

When stalking victims look back on their history with their stalker, they usually notice that things started getting weird when they continually ran into the person in various locations. In the beginning, things usually don’t seem strange because it’s someone they know and because sometimes people do share the same space at the same time.

However, if the “causally running into one another” becomes a daily occurrence or the encounters happen in increasingly strange places, it’s time to start considering that a stalking situation could be developing.

Unexpected Gifts

The only thing better than getting a present is getting a present when it’s totally unexpected. The problem with unexpected presents is that they can also be a sign of unwanted attention. If someone is continually giving you things, even seemingly innocent things such as candy bars, it could be that they are developing an unhealthy obsession.

Ignoring Boundaries

Once you started getting unwanted gifts you likely started putting up some boundaries. If a person is ignoring these boundaries and continues to lavish unwanted gifts on you and is constantly entering into your personal space, it’s a sign that they have developed a potentially unhealthy attachment to you.

Property Damage

Property damage is often a tell-tale sign that a person has started to develop a stalking tendency. This is especially true if you’ve done something such as gone out with someone else or rebuffed your stalker’s advances. The property damage is a sign that it’s time to get the police involved.

It’s not uncommon for stalking behavior to escalate until it is ruining both your’s and the stalker’s lives. Ignoring the behavior doesn’t do anyone any favors. As the stalking behavior escalates, it’s important to involve the authorities. Not only will they take action to protect you, reaching this point could be what your stalker needs to realize that they’re engaging in dangerous behavior and that they need to seek professional help.


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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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The Difference Between a State and Federal Warrant

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Most of us know that the police can’t simply walk into our homes and start searching it unless you’ve given them permission to do so, or if they’ve gone through the correct legal channels and acquired a warrant.

The same is true when it comes to arrests. While there are some exceptions, such as drunk driving, you usually can’t be arrested unless the police have an actual arrest warrant.

What you might not know is that there are both state/local arrest warrants and federal arrest warrants.

The biggest difference between a federal and state/local warrant is the law enforcement agency that is involved in your case.

If a federal warrant has been issued for your arrest, it means that you’re a suspect in a federal crime. To obtain a federal warrant, the agency working on the case must present a federal judge with sufficient evidence that you potentially committed the crime and that the crime is indeed a federal matter.

In some situations, trying to determine if a case is federal or state can be complicated. When this happens, a joint task force that consists of both federal agents and state officers is formed. The joint task force not only allows the different agencies to pool talent and resources but also makes it easier to obtain warrants.

How you should behave if there is a warrant for your arrest depends on how you learn about this information.

If you have heard (or suspect) that an arrest warrant has been issued, but the police haven’t actually knocked on your door, don’t even think about trying to run. Bolting will only make the situation worse.

The first thing you should do is contact a lawyer. Tell them what you know and ask for their advice. They will likely encourage you to turn yourself in. By contacting a lawyer before you’re formally arrested, you can keep them by your side throughout the entire process and make sure that none of your civil rights are violated.

Since the police aren’t currently hauling you to the police station, take a little time to get your personal affairs in order. This is a good time to contact a bail bonds agency and alert them that you’ll likely need a bail bond. If you have children or pets, take steps to make sure they’re properly cared for if you have to remain in jail for a few days. Lock up your home, and make your way to the police station.

If the police show up at your home with an arrest warrant, read the warrant and make sure all the information is accurate. If the information is accurate, calmly and quietly go with the officers. Don’t even think about trying to resist the arrest. Don’t answer any questions, take a plea deal, or discuss the case with anyone until your lawyer has arrived.


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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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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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3 Signs That Your Child is being Victimized by a Bully

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Many of the kids who are returning to school this fall haven’t attended an actual school since March 2020. While this return is good in terms of reconnecting on a social level and regaining some normalcy, it also means that once again, parents are worried about bullies.

A single bully can do an enormous amount of damage to a child. They hit the child’s self-confidence takes can haunt your child for the rest of their life. In addition to psychological trauma, parents also worry about bullying and physical abuse.

Most kids don’t report bullying problems to their parents. Catching the early warning signs and putting together a plan of action takes a great deal of diligence, observation, and communication.

Pay Attention to Your Child’s Appearance Both Before and After School

The first sign that a child is being bullied is often changes to their clothing and overall appearance at the start of the school day versus the end. Yes, kids trade clothing and jewelry. Yes, kids rip, tear, and stain their clothing via innocent actions. However, if your child is consistently coming home looking bedraggled, or is hiding torn clothing, or constantly has items of clothing missing, it could indicate that your child has attracted a bully.

Look for Bruises, Cuts, and Scrapes

Active kids do get banged up while playing, but kids who are being bullied will often also be covered in cuts and bruises which is why you should ask how your child was injured. Not only should you pay attention to how they received the injury, but also to how they tell you about it. If the bruise was sustained while playing sports, your child will likely have an entire adventure regarding the wound. However, if they are quiet about the injury or try to hide it, it could indicate a bullying problem.

Changes in Personality

Kids’ personalities are in a constant state of flux. They go through stages of intense joy, irritation, and resistance. Sometimes these changes happen at a rapid-fire pace. What isn’t normal is for a happy, bubbly kid who likes school to go through a prolonged period of depression where they no longer want to socialize. It’s also unusual for your child to suddenly lose all interest in activities and friends that they have always loved in the past. Sudden and long-term changes often indicate a bullying problem.

If you notice signs that your child’s return to school has resulted in them being bullied, you’ll want to take a proactive stance before the situation leaves your child emotionally or physically scarred.


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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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Tips for Kids Going Back to School

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The threat of your young child disappearing when they go back to school is far greater than you imagine. According to Child Find of America, approximately 2,300 children are abducted every single day in the United States. The National Center of Exploited and Missing Children reported that in 2020, an estimated 1 in 6 missing children were victims of sex trafficking.

Stranger danger and abduction prevention lessons are something you and your children should always be working on. With the start of school just around the corner, now is the time to sit down with your child and review everything they know about stranger danger and staying safe.

While you’re shopping for school supplies, use this time with your child to review the rules you should already have in place regarding accepting rides from strangers.

The rules your child should already be familiar with include:

  • Never get into a stranger’s vehicle
  • Always staying several feet away from a stranger’s vehicle
  • Knowing that if a person makes them feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, that they should immediately seek out the assistance of a trusted adult

Abductors usually don’t bother with children who are traveling in packs, which is why it’s important to teach your child that they should always have a friend or two with them wherever they go. The more friends they have with them while walking home from school, playing in the back, and riding bikes, the safer they will be.

Now is the perfect time to teach your child how to be aware of their surroundings. This is something you should do by example. Put your phone in your pocket and actively survey your surroundings when you walk to and from buildings. Teach your child to notices is strange people are hanging around places like the playground. Teach them to be particularly aware if they notice that the same person shows up in multiple locations your child is at and to let you know about this person.

Make it very clear that it doesn’t matter if a stranger has candy, is saying they are lost/hurt, or has kittens/puppies to play with that your child is not to approach them. That their best course of action is leaving the immediate area and finding a trusted, familiar adult.

Teach your child to scream. If the worse does happen and a stranger approaches your child, the screams will cause the adult to quickly decide that your child isn’t worth the effort and they will flee the scene.

Don’t assume that just because your child is older that you no longer have to worry about abductions. According to the Missouri Child Identification and Protection Program, 81% of abducted minors were 12 years old or older.


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Distracted Walking in California

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Everyone is familiar with distracted driving, but few of us have ever heard of distracted walking laws. If you’re wondering if that’s even a real thing you’re not alone.

Rest assured, not only is distracted walking a viable concern, but one California city, Montclair, has already passed a distracted walking law. In April 2018, the city’s distracted walking law officially went into effect. Once that happened, anyone caught using their cell phone while walking across the street was subjected to a $100.

It seems like a silly rule, but if you take a few minutes watching people walking on the sidewalk and you can see why distracted walking is a concern. These days, people are completely glued to their phones and often unaware of what is happening around them. Some don’t even look up when they start crossing the street. This type of behavior has prompted more cities to explore the concept of distracted walking laws.

A team of researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark revealed that the number of medical emergencies that included head and neck injuries has substantially increased in the past 20 years.

Legally, drivers are supposed to be aware of pedestrians and do everything in their power to avoid hitting them with their vehicle. The problem that arises is how are drivers supposed to predict when a pedestrian who is texting will suddenly step into the path of oncoming traffic. What makes the issue even more challenging is that many of these pedestrians don’t even realize that they are now in the middle of the road and don’t behave rationally.

Do you think more cities should have distracted walking laws? If distracted laws became common and patrol cops started issuing tickets and fines, would you be more inclined to leave your phone in your pocket, or would you continue to talk and text?


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Getting Into Trouble for Vandalism in California

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California lawmakers have little patience for vandalism. The exact law dealing with the issue is Penal Code 594 PC which defines vandalism.

“Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism:

  • Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
  • Damages.
  • Destroys.

Whenever a person violates this subdivision with respect to real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the federal government, it shall be a permissive inference that the person neither owned the property nor had the permission of the owner to deface, damage, or destroy the property.”

Most people assume that vandalism is a deliberate act, such as spraying graffiti on the side of a commercial building, and in some situations, that’s certainly true. However, there have been many instances where vandalism has been added to other charges. In many of these situations, people had no intention of committing an act of vandalism and don’t even realize they have until their defense lawyer explains the list of charges that have been filed against them. An example of this is being charged for vandalism because you broke a window during a fight.

Even doing something as seemingly innocent as leaving a handprint in some wet cement can be considered an act of vandalism.

Don’t assume that a vandalism charge isn’t something you don’t have to take seriously. Yes, it’s a misdemeanor but a guilty conviction could result in you spending some time in jail. If you’re convicted of felony vandalism, the long-term impact the single incident has on your life could be huge.

Vandalism in California is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The only thing that determines which way the charge wobbles is the monetary amount to the damage. Don’t assume that you would have to do a lot of damage to be charged with felony vandalism. If your act of vandalism results in $400 or more worth of damage, you’ll be charged with a felony. Considering today’s cost, that’s not much vandalism.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, you could be sentenced to a full year in jail and asked to pay a $1,000 fine. In many cases, the judge will also order restitution. It’s common for community service and probation to be a part of the sentencing.

A guilt conviction for felony vandalism could end in a sentence that includes up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The reason the penalties connected to vandalism are so severe is that state lawmakers want people to stop and think about their actions beforehand. Throwing a few eggs at your neighbor’s house when you’re upset about them blocking your driveway might seem like a good idea until you realize that doing so could result in you being sent to prison.

When it comes to acts of vandalism you should always stop and think if the moment of satisfaction will be worth the potential fallout if you’re caught and convicted.