Prevent Your Child From Being Abducted

Prevent Your Child From Being Abducted

It’s a parent’s nightmare, but according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 800,000 children are reported missing every year. When broken down, this equates to about 2,000 children being each day. While most of these result in a happy ending, the initial number of children being reported missing is staggering.

Kids Health breaks down the reality of some of these abductions. The majority of children who are reported missing have actually run away from their home on their own accord or there has been a miscommunication with their guardian about where they are supposed to be.

Out of the children that are truly abducted, the majority of them are taken by a family member or known family associate, only 25% of abductions are the result of a child being taken by a stranger.

So, as a parent or guardian, how do you prevent your child from being abducted and becoming another statistic? The first thing you should do is have an open and honest dialogue with your children about safety and abduction prevention. You should stress the importance of your children not getting into the car with people they do not know and not to accept candy or other forms of bribery from strangers trying to lure them away.

If you and your family are heading to a crowded public space, such as an amusement park, it is wise to identify a meeting spot in the instance you all get separated from one another. This can be a visitor’s center, information booth, the food court, a lifeguard stand, or an emergency station. An idea if you have young children that cannot remember their guardian’s information is to write it on their arm in permanent marker.

The last suggestion to prevent your child from being abducted is to invest in a children’s tracking device. These can be useful when in crowded areas or in places where your children have room to run around and play.

The thought of having your child abducted is every parent’s worst nightmare. Through proper safety and abduction prevention education, you and your family can work together to help prevent it from happening to you.


Can A Police Officer Search Your Vehicle

Can A Police Officer Search Your Vehicle

One of the first things an officer often does when they pull you over for a traffic infraction is take a peek inside your car. In some cases, they’ll ask you to get out of the vehicle while they do a thorough search of the interior. Watching them go through the items you have tucked in your vehicle is enough to make anyone wonder whether the search is actually legal.

Your Rights and Your Car

The letter of the law is clear when it comes to the police searching both your person or your home, but they become vaguer when the search involves your vehicle, which makes it difficult to know whether the officer who pulled you over has overstepped.

When the founding fathers started arguing about the constitution and later about the amendments they needed, they never dreamt about things like cars and all the headaches that go along with vehicles. They’re main concern involved homes. The founding fathers didn’t want to create a police state style of government so they drafted the Fourth Amendment which requires law enforcement to have a warrant before they can search your home and the items you’re carrying on your person.

When cars started becoming a common sight, the justices who were sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court at the time realized that they needed to make some changes to the Fourth Amendment. They did create a law that meant the while your vehicle is considered a private space, the items within your vehicle aren’t as heavily protected as those you keep in your home. For several decades, the vagueness of the rules for vehicles meant that no one, including police officers, really knew when the could and couldn’t search a vehicle.

Finally, in 2009, the Supreme Court finally took steps to clear up the cloudiness surrounding vehicle searchers. They ruled that there are three different situations in which an officer can search a car during a routine traffic stop.

  1. If the officer pulls a vehicle over and that leads to the arrest of the driver, the officer has the right to inspect the interior and trunk of the vehicle.
  2. If the vehicle is being impounded for some reason, the officer is allowed to inspect the vehicle, though they’re required to make an inventory of everything found within the vehicle.
  3. If the police officer has cause to believe that the driver is involved in a crime or is transporting something dangerous/illegal, they’re within their rights to search the car. If the case goes to court, the officer will have to prove that they had probable cause. Probable cause can be established if the officer looks into the windows of the vehicle and sees drugs/stolen goods/a weapon.

If the officer does have the right to search the car, anything they find within it can be used to file charges against you, charges that will be dropped if you can prove the search wasn’t entirely legal.


Whose Legally Responsible For A Drunk Driver

Whose Legally Responsible For A Drunk Driver

Bar and restaurant owners already know that if one of their patrons leaves their establishment and injures someone in drunk driving accident, the owner could be facing serious financial repercussions in the form of a lawsuit. The idea is that the bar owner shouldn’t have overserved the driver, and once they did, they should have taken the keys away.

Lately, many people have stated that the friends of people who turn into drunk drivers should also be responsible for the drunk driving accident, and therefore face financial and legal repercussions. The idea has gained a great deal of footing in Pennsylvania following a fatal drunk driving accident.

In the aftermath of the crash, many brought up the point that the drunk driver had passengers in his car and that these passengers knew that he was drunk. Many believe that while the passengers might not have been able to stop the drunk driver from getting behind the wheel, but they should have contacted the police, alerting them to the situation.

The concept is based on “Duty to Rescue” laws.

Duties to Rescue Laws deals with the idea that if a person sees another person who is in danger, they should do whatever they can to help out. Failure to do so can result in legal action.

The simple truth is that it’s rare for no one to know that a person is too drunk to drive. Most people will even argue with the driver, trying to convince them to turn over their keys and sleep it off. When the driver refuses to hand the keys over, the bystanders usually simply hope that nothing bad happens. But should they be calling the police? Should they get into their own car, following the drunk driver, alerting the police to the driver’s exact location? Not only would this make it easier for the police to get the driver off the road but would also mean that someone else was on the scene if there was an accident.

The issue is a tricky one. While it’s one thing to say that someone has a moral obligation to report a drunk driver, it’s another to make it a law. The first problem is knowing how far to take the law. To be responsible, do you have to have a relationship with the drunk driver or is it enough to have simply been in the same bar as them? If they are in an accident, can the injured party’s insurance and loved ones go after you with the ferocity that they go after the driver? Or, what if you knew the driver was too drunk to get behind the wheel, but the slip out of the bar before while you’re in the bathroom and you don’t know what they drive or which direction they’re heading in? And what if you were drinking? That would mean your own judgement is impaired, making it difficult to know just how drunk someone else is.

While there aren’t any laws on the books dealing with the topic of allowing someone else to drive drunk, it’s likely that this topic will be discussed a great deal in the upcoming years. The best way to make sure you don’t find yourself in legal trouble over the matter is by reporting drunk drivers, even if they’re a friend or family member.


Beginner’s Guide To Budgeting

Beginner’s Guide To Budgeting

Don’t look now but the holiday season is less than five months away. Depending on your financial situation, this fact can either excite or terrify you. It’s no surprise that there is a huge financial burden that comes along with the holidays. It’s time to take some of that financial pressure off of the holiday season and put the “Happy” back in “Happy Holidays.”

A key way to take that financial burden off of the holiday season is to start planning and budgeting for it NOW. If you’ve never budgeted before, the idea of starting from scratch can be sort of daunting. However, a budget isn’t scary, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s something that when done well can be a lifesaver. It’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t one master way to budget. Rather, you have to figure out what’s best for your family’s situation.

To begin, you’ll want to get an overall idea about your family’s financial situation. Write down a list of all your monthly income, including your wages, child support, or any other type of income that is consistent from month to month. Next, write down a list of all your monthly expenses. This will include things like your mortgage or rent, utilities, debt, groceries, and car costs. Finally, write down a list of all your unnecessary expenses such as new clothes or eating at restaurants.

If you aren’t sure where your money is going each month, check with your bank to see if you can obtain a copy of your debit and credit card transactions.

Once you know where your money is going you will be able to start setting monthly caps on your expense categories. You should make sure you set limits/budget what you need for your expense that you cannot control such as rent, insurance, and utilities. After that, create spending limits for your unnecessary categories. In this case, if you’re planning for the holidays go ahead and add a column for gifts so you can either set aside money each month and buy gifts at once or buy a few gifts each month so the burden isn’t so large during the holiday season.

Budgeting takes time and it can be tricky at first, but it will pay off in the long-run.

By knowing where your money is going you can plan ahead and adjust your spending habits to meet your family’s specific goals – like saving for college, planning for retirement, or taking a big family vacation. Be sure to take advantage of free online resources that offer budgeting guides, sample budgets, or downloadable budgeting sheets. Remember, by spending a little less now you can spend more later on and reduce the financial burden of the holiday season.


California’s Carpool Lane: Who Can And Can’t Use It

California’s Carpool Lane: Who Can And Can’t Use It

When you’re stuck in the slow moving, single occupancy line during rush hour, the carpool lane with it’s faster moving traffic looks really inviting, but there are lots of rules about who can and can’t use it.


Some people haul their pets with them wherever they go. It’s easy to look at your dog riding in the shotgun seat and start wondering if they actually qualify as a passenger. This is especially true when you have a large dog that can be easily seen by cops.

If you’ve already tried this, you already know that the answer is no, it doesn’t matter if you’re driving with one dog or have ten in the car with you, the state doesn’t recognize them as legal passengers. To drive in the carpool lane, you must have at least one other person in the car with you.

Pregnant Women

Another issue that gets a lot of people into trouble when they are in the carpool lane is thinking that because they’re pregnant, they’re carrying a passenger. California recognizes small children as passengers. Lots of people who are pulled over in the carpool lane actually have small children strapped in car seats that the cops couldn’t see. Once the cops see the children, they let the driver off. However, in order for the child to be recognized as an actual passenger, they have to have already been born.

Penalty for Driving in the Carpool Lane Without a Passenger

California has notoriously high priced traffic tickets and this is especially true for people who violate the laws of the carpool lane. The ticket can range from $350 to $550, and that is you don’t have any passenger in the vehicle with you is the only violation. If you’re also speeding, don’t have your seat belt on, or if you’re using your cell phone, the ticket could easily soar up to $1,000. Since cop cars are equipped with cameras which clearly show how many people are in the car, it is unlikely that the judge will throw the ticket out if you try to fight it in court.

The general rule of thumb is that if you’re not sure if you’re allowed to drive in the carpool lane, you should stay out of it. It’s a decision that could save you a great deal of money.


What You Need To Know About Police Radar Jammer Devices

What You Need To Know About Police Radar Jammer Devices

Even though you’re in a hurry to get to your destination, you don’t want to get a speeding ticket. Not only does getting pulled over mean you’re even later getting to work, but there’s also the expense of the fine, plus the extra points on your driving record means your insurance premiums will sky rocket.

One of the things that many motorists consider when they’re hunting for ways to speed and not get caught is the possibility of jamming the police radar. If the officer doesn’t know how fast you’re going, they can’t pull you over.

If your about to purchase a device designed to jam a police radar, don’t. The only thing the device will bring to your life is trouble.

First, using a radar jammer is a Federal offense, and one the courts take seriously. If you get caught using one, a speeding ticket will be the least of your worries.

Not only will driving a vehicle that’s equipped with a radar jamming device get you into serious legal trouble, but now that most officers use laser speed guns or LIDARs means that the laser jammer doesn’t even work. The officer still knows exactly how fast you’re driving.

In California, laws have been passed that specifically prohibit any attempt to interfere with both police laser and radar devices is illegal. California Vehicle Code Section 28150 (Division 12: Equipment of Vehicles, Chapter 5: Other Equipment, Article 17: Jamming Devices) deals with the topic of jammers.

It states that:

  • It’s against the law to drive or equip a vehicle with any type of device that scrambles, jams, disables, or otherwise neutralizes the system a police officer is using to measure the speed of your vehicle.
  • It’s against California’s law to even purchase, possess, or sell a device that’s designed to interfere with the system a police officer is using to measure speed.
  • Having such a device is a misdemeanor.

While you’re not legally allowed to have any device that jams police radars, the state doesn’t currently have any laws stating you can’t have radar detectors in your vehicle. These devices don’t interfere with the system the police use, but they do alert you to the fact that an officer is in the area and that they’re looking for speeding vehicles. Before you rush out to purchase a radar detector, you should know that they’re not always reliable.


Do You Have A Scooter Problem?

Do You Have A Scooter Problem?

If you have been to any of the popular beaches around Los Angeles or the surrounding areas lately, you may have noticed a lot scooters lying around. These scooters belong to companies like Bird and Lime. These tech companies supply scooters and charge $1 to unlock the device and 15 cents per minute to use it. Once the person is done with the scooter, they can leave it wherever they like.

This is just one of many tech based ideas that are meant to help clean up urban environments. The idea behind these scooters is to give people a cheap and easy alternative to using a car. The idea sounds great, but has recently begun to receive a lot of backlash in the areas where these products can be found.

Anyone can pick up a scooter, which means that not every rider is considerate of pedestrians and vehicles. Many angry drivers and residents have complained about scooter riders weaving recklessly through traffic and crowded sidewalks alike. This kind of reckless behavior has led to numerous accidents.

Another problem is that these devices can be left wherever for the next person to take, which leads to discarded scooters cluttering sidewalks and parks.

These two factors have created a lot of backlash, leading some city councils to create laws restricting or even outright banning the devices. Some people have even taken things to an extreme and begun to vandalize the scooters. Some people are even brazen enough to posts videos or pictures of their “handy work” on social media.

Make no mistake, vandalism is still illegal no matter how mad you might be at a company or product. In the state of California, Penal Code 594 defines vandalism as maliciously destroying someone else’s property. If the damage is done to something worth more than $400, then the person can be charged with felony vandalism.

While the value of Bird’s scooters is not publicly known, similar devices on Amazon sell for over $1,000. This means that a person could face felony charges for destroying a scooter. This would mean a possible jail stay between 1 and 3 years, plus a max fine of $10,000. Is destroying a scooter really worth all of that?


California’s Wobbler Laws

California’s Wobbler Laws

One of the interesting terms you’ll often hear bandied around the California judicial offices is wobbler laws. This is a cute name for a very specific and unique set of laws.

What Are Wobbler Laws

Wobbler laws are laws where the prosecution has the option of deciding whether they want to charge the defendant with a misdemeanor or a felony. The misdemeanor charge not only means that the defendant doesn’t have to deal with the severe, life long consequences of having a felony record, but also usually faces a significantly reduced sentence that includes less jail time and smaller court fines.

A perfect example of one of California’s wobbler laws is assault with a weapon. If a defendant is found guilty of the crime and prosecution has asked that they be charged with a misdemeanor, the most severe sentence the defendant faces is a year in jail. However, if found guilty of the felony version of the same crime, the maximum charge is four years in a California state prison.

How Prosecutors Determine A Misdemeanor Or Felony

There are several things that prosecutors consider when they’re dealing with someone accused of a wobbler style crime. Some of the factors considered include:

  • The criminal history of the accused
  • The circumstances surrounding the crime
  • The overall behavior of the accused during their arrest

In cases like assault with a weapon, the type of weapon used during the crime plays a huge roll in whether the prosecution opts for misdemeanor or felony charges. Someone carrying a large knife is far more likely to get charged with a felony than a person who just happened to grab a wine bottle or pool cue when an argument gets heated.

It’s worth noting that when the defendant is sentenced, the judge can choose to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

Why Wobbler Laws Exist

The main reason for wobbler laws is because the lawmakers realized that in things like assault with a weapon and aggravated trespassing there’s a great deal of gray that should be considered during the sentencing. The second advantage of wobbler laws is that it provides the prosecution with some incentive while negotiating plea bargains.


Don’t Make Decisions While Hangry

Don’t Make Decisions While Hangry

Everyone gets hungry from time to time. When some people get too hungry, they get what is called hangry. This is just a fun word for describing how people get angry when they are hungry. When people are hangry, they don’t always make the best decisions. They snap at people they care about and are otherwise in a foul mood until they get some food in their belly.

What may be a perfect example of someone making a bad decision while hangry, is a recent crime from Fayetteville, Georgia. There, an unknown man stole a 53 foot trailer from local gas station. The trailer was filled with ramen noodles, which were valued at roughly $98,000. That’s a lot of noodles.

The trailer was legally parked at the gas station and was supposedly secured. The Fayette County Sheriffs believe that the person behind the crime is also responsible for other vehicle crimes in the area. These crimes include five car break-ins and a stolen motorcycle, in addition to the stolen noodle trailer.

The culprit of the crime has not yet been found, but he will likely regret the decision to steal the ramen trailer, no matter how hungry he may have been at the time. In Georgia, this can earn him anywhere from 1 to 10 years in prison, plus severe fines.

Here in California, this same crime would likely be considered felony grand theft under Penal Code 487 and would earn a person:

  • A prison stay of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years
  • A fine no larger than $10,000

There could also be additional charges and fines, thereby increasing the penalties. Basically, making a mistake like this while hangry can be very costly for a person. It is far better to simply go to a store or fast food restaurant.


Handling A Cyberbully

Handling A Cyberbully

Bullying has always been a problem, but prior to the creation of the internet and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, most bullying was done by someone the victim knew. That’s no longer the case. These days, you can be bullied by someone you’ve never met, who lives on the other side of the world, and all because you dared state your opinion about something on your social media account.

If you’re a victim of cyberbullying, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Shut Down Your Computer

One of the best things you can do when it comes to a cyberbully is shutting down your computer, or at the very least logging off your social media accounts for a little while. This put space between you and the person who is trying to bully you. In many cases, when a victim doesn’t respond to the cyberbully, the person loses interest and looks for a more interesting victim. When you log back into your accounts, you can delete bullying comments and move on with your life.

Save Some Screenshots

If ignoring the cyberbully doesn’t cause them to go away, you should avoid engaging with them, but you should also click screenshots of all their comments. If the situation escalates, these screenshots can be used to build a case against the cyberbully. Make sure you save the screenshots so that even if your computer crashes, the screenshots will survive. Most experts recommend saving them to both a cloud storage system and an external drive.

Contact The Police

Cyberbullying is a serious matter. In an increasing number of cases, getting the bully to quit has involved police involvement. Indicators that it’s time to stop dealing with the situation on your own and that you need to contact the police include when threats of physical violence are being made or when despite your best efforts, the harassment simply doesn’t stop. According to data collected by the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 82% of police officers feel that cyberbullying is a serious offense that requires police involvement.

Don’t give any indication that you’re contacting law enforcement. Simply hand over all the evidence you’ve collected and let the cyberbully be surprised when the police, arrest warrant in hand, knock on their door. Any bullying that goes on between the time you contact the police and the cyberbully is arrested will strengthen your case.