Abandoned Pets In California

Abandoned Pets In California

There is little that tugs on the heartstrings more than a family pet that has been abandoned. A startling number of these stories involve a family suddenly moving and leaving a cat or dog behind, often on the property. If you happen to be the person who either rents or purchases the property, it’s important to understand your legal rights.

California lawmakers addressed the issues of abandoned pets. The law was designed to protect both landlords and incoming residents from inheriting responsibility for the pet the previous tenants left behind. All you have to do is report the pet to animal control. When you report the pet, local animal control officers will arrive at the property and remove the animal. Prior to the law change, everyone had to leave the pet where it was for a full two days after its discovery to see if the previous owners planned on returning for it.

This new law makes it possible for the pet to receive shelter, food, and any veterinary care it requires.

If you are getting ready to move and are considering leaving your pet behind, you need to think again. This is a serious problem that law officials are starting to really crackdown on.

Even if there is a legitimate reason your pet can’t make the move with you, you’re legally obligated to take care of them. That means that if you aren’t able to convince a friend or family member to assume ownership, you’ll have to go through a shelter.

It’s important to understand that abandoning your pet is illegal. The resulting charge is a misdemeanor. If you’re found guilty you could be fined $50-$500 and possibly spend time in jail.

If the stress of the move causes a pet to run away, you need to report them as a lost animal as quickly as possible. Reporting them as lost not only increases the odds of them getting safely returned to your family, but eliminates the possibility of you being charged with animal abandonment in California.

 

Distracted Driving In 2021

Distracted Driving In 2021

Most of us are familiar with drunk driving and know that it’s something we should avoid. Few of us know about distracted driving. Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re ticketed for distracted driving, it means that rather than paying attention to the road, the bulk of your attention was focused on something else.

Most distracted driving tickets are issued because the driver was using their cell phone while driving, but you can be ticketed for getting in an argument with your passengers, trying to set your navigation system while your vehicle is in motion, or even trying to mop up coffee that you’ve spilled all over yourself.

Distracted driving became a thing when manufacturers started installing radios in cars and people started getting into accidents because they were changing the station rather than watching the road. Today, cell phones are the biggest source of distracted driving. Stats indicate that sending a short text while you’re behind the wheel means your 23 times more likely to get into an accident. Many of these distracted driving accidents end with someone getting hurt.

California drivers have been getting distracted driving tickets for several years, but now that 2021 has begun, those tickets are a much bigger issue.

California law refers to distracted driving as “anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road or hands off the steering wheel – especially when texting or using your phone.”

The tweaks made to the distracted driving law in 2021 focus exclusively on anyone who is using their cell phone while they are behind the wheel.

The first time you’re caught using a cell phone while driving, you’ll be issued a ticket for $162. Any distracted driving tickets you collect after that first one will cost a whopping $285. If you get two or more tickets that are connected to using a cell phone while driving, the state will add a point to your license. Too many points and the state could suspend your driver’s license.

If you’re in an accident or cause a moving violation while you’re driving, the police officer will likely write additional tickets. When all is said and done, deciding to answer a text message while you’re behind the wheel could destroy several months of careful budgeting.

At this point, you will only receive a distracted driving ticket if you are using your hands to operate your cell phone. Hands-free phone operation is still allowed.

Tougher distracted driving penalties are just one of the changes drivers will encounter during 2021.

 

Selling Real Estate Without A License

Selling Real Estate Without A License

Selling real estate seems simple enough. Someone wants to sell their house. You know a few people who would be interested. You agree to act as a broker between everyone. Considering that people sell houses as “for sale by owner” all the time, what can possibly go wrong.

Yes, it’s possible that this could turn into a good deal for everyone, it can also go horribly sideways. While state laws do allow you to sell your house without the aid of a real estate agent, you’re not allowed to step in and act as a broker for another person unless you’ve been properly licensed by the state.

Getting a real estate license in California isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does require some commitment on your part. The state real estate board wants proof that you clearly understand the ins and outs of real estate law.

The State of California won’t issue a real estate license to you until you’ve:

  • Completed a specified real estate course.
  • Passed a written exam.
  • Undergone a thorough state background check.

It is important to understand that California has two different types of real estate license: (1) a license that allows you to act as a real estate salesperson and (2) a license that allows you to act as a real estate broker.

You won’t be granted a broker’s license until you’ve first obtained your salesperson license. The state won’t even consider your application to become a broker until you’ve obtained a great deal of hands-on experience working as a real estate salesperson.

Failure to become properly licensed before selling real estate has serious legal repercussions. If you’re caught, you could be facing either a felony or misdemeanor charges. The punishment often depends on why you were eventually caught, how many properties you ultimately helped sell, and if you have ever been charged with selling a property without a license in the past.

In many cases, you’ll serve time in either jail or state prison. It’s also likely you’ll be required to pay a steep fine, have a probation period, and even be required to do community service. Depending on the situation, you could also have to pay restitution to everyone involved in the case. There’s also a chance that civil charges will be filed against you. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be allowed to legally sell real estate after you’ve been convicted.

All things considered, it’s best to put in the work and obtain your real estate license rather than trying to take a short cut.

 

Elder Abuse In California

Elder Abuse In California

Society dictates that we take care of our elders. The idea is that they cared for us when we were too young to fend for ourselves, and now it’s our turn to return the favor. The problem is that some people don’t behave the way that society dictates and commit a crime that’s called elder abuse.

California’s elder abuse laws are designed to protect state residents that have passed their 65th birthday. Most victims are older and no longer able to completely care for themselves.

Elder abuse in California includes:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect

Elder abuse in California is one of the state’s famous wobbler laws. This means that you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision isn’t based on whether the DA is having a bad day, but rather a specific set of criteria.

Elder abuse in California is covered by Penal Code section 368(c). The law is written in such a way that prosecutors have 12 months to investigate an alleged instance of elder abuse before they either have to let the case go or file charges. Anyone responsible for caring for an elderly patient/relative can be charged with misdemeanor elder abuse in California.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor elder abuse, you could be sentenced to a full year in jail.

The rules change in cases of felony elder abuse. One of the big changes is that prosecutors have more time to determine if they should file charges. They aren’t hampered by the one-year time limit. While the prosecutor gets more time to file charges against you, they also have to build a much stronger case.

To convict you with felony elder abuse, the DA has to prove that someone in your care experienced great bodily harm. In most cases, the abuse takes place over a long time, but it can also be a single incident, such as pushing the elderly person you were caring for down a flight of stairs.

If you’re found guilty of felony elder abuse, you could spend the next four years in a state prison and also have to pay a substantial amount of fines.

It’s worth noting that there are circumstances that can trigger an even more severe punishment for elder abuse. In these cases, the age of the victim is an important factor. In a felony elder abuse case that involves a person who is older than 70, the judge can add an additional four years to your sentence. If a 70-year-old senior citizen dies as a result of the abuse you inflicted upon them, an additional seven years can be added to your sentence.

 

Figuring Out How Stimulus Checks Impact Your 2020 Tax Returns

Figuring Out How Stimulus Checks Impact Your 2020 Tax Returns

2020 has finally ended which means we now have to think about our 2020 taxes. The issue is complicated by the fact that many of us received a COVID-19 stimulus check during 2020 and now have to figure out how that impacts our federal tax situation.

The Stimulus Isn’t An Income

The biggest concern most of us have is whether the stimulus check counts as income. In some of our cases, that simple check is enough to change our tax bracket and can seriously impact how much we owe the IRS.

According to Kathy Pickering, chief tax officer at H&R Block, you don’t have to worry about how the stimulus check will impact your income because it doesn’t count as income. That’s a relief for many people who are already struggling to pay their bills and simply can’t afford any more financial blows.

What If You Didn’t Get A Stimulus Check?

Where the stimulus check will come into play is if you didn’t get one or if you got one but it was for less than what you were entitled to. There are many reasons this may have happened including having a child in 2020, experiencing an economic setback, the IRS didn’t have the correct information on file. When you file your tax return, the IRS will become aware of the issue. They won’t send you a separate check, but they will add the missing amount to your tax refund.

Seek Professional Assistance

If you didn’t get a stimulus check, it’s in your best interest to hire a professional tax preparer who will go over your return and make sure everything is correct and that it’s very clear that the IRS still owes you a stimulus check. Utilizing a professional tax expert spares you from potentially making a mistake on your tax return which could cost you thousands.

File Early And Be Patient

Don’t expect this tax season to be just like the ones before it. The IRS is backlogged and has already pushed the filing start date back by two weeks. You can’t submit your 2020 tax return until February 12. The IRS has said that while it might take them a little longer than normal to process the return, they still hope to have the refunds sent within 21 days of you filing your return.

Things that will shorten the amount of time it takes to get your tax return include filing electronically and accepting direct deposits.

 

Tips To Help You Get Ready To File Your 2020 Tax Return

Your 2020 tax return isn’t due until mid-April, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore that tax season is officially here. The last thing you want to do is wait until a few days before the deadline to file. Turning your thoughts to your tax return now and creating a plan to help you prepare them reduces a great deal of tax season stress.

The key to keeping your stress levels low during tax season is creating a plan of attack. Create a list of specific tasks that need to be completed and determine when you’ll do them. You’ll be amazed how much a solid plan of attack smooths out the process of filing your 2020 tax return.

Gather Your Paperwork

Spend the second half of January and the first half of February gathering up all the paperwork you need to complete your 2020 tax return. The paperwork you need to have on hand before you’re ready to start preparing your tax return includes:

  • W2s
  • Documents that indicate itemized expenses such as child care, medical insurance, and educational costs
  • Any 1099s connected to freelance contractors you hired throughout the year
  • Donation receipts
  • Mortgage interest payment documents
  • An itemized list of business expenses (if relevant)
  • Investment statements
  • Receipts for any tax-deductible purchases you made throughout the year

Keep all of these documents in a drawer or file that’s specifically dedicated to your 2020 taxes.

Dedicating a few weeks to simply organizing all the paperwork that’s relevant to your 2020 tax return does three things. One, it means you don’t have to constantly stop and look for things while you’re preparing your return. Two, you won’t accidentally forget to add something that could impact how much you owe/receive. Three, by gathering all of the documents early, you’ll notice if something is lost and still have time to find/replace the document.

Prepare Your 2020 Tax Return

Set aside a few days in early March to actually prepare your tax return. If you’re handling this on your own, make sure you have a block of time when you won’t be interrupted. Give yourself plenty of time. If you find the process overwhelming, divide the process into several small, manageable chunks. By starting to prepare the paperwork in March, it means you won’t be in a race to complete the work by the April 15 deadline.

When you’re done, save the documentation but don’t submit it to the IRS just yet.

Review Your Work

Give yourself a week or two before returning to your completed tax return. Carefully go over every single line and make sure everything is correct. This review process is the best way to avoid making a mistake that could trigger an audit. Once you’re satisfied that everything is accurate, it’s time to officially file your taxes.

Set Up A Payment Plan

If you’re getting a refund from the IRS, you can sit back and wait for the check to appear. If you discover that you owe taxes, you’ll want to set up a payment plan and stick to it. It’s better to make your payments a few days early than to be late.

Hopefully, this plan of attack for your 2020 tax season takes all the stress out of the process, making it possible for you to file your taxes and also enjoy time with your family and friends.

 

Celebrating Valentine’s Day During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Celebrating Valentine’s Day During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. It’s the biggest date night of the year. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic means getting a little creative. Coming in contact with the potentially deadly virus is the last thing you want to do this Valentine’s Day.

Here are few tips that will allow you to enjoy a lovely Valentine’s Day and also stay safe. All of these ideas will work for both first dates and for couples who committed to one another a long time ago.

Plan an Outdoor Date

One of the few things everybody agrees on is that being outdoors is far safer than being indoors. So, instead of going to your favorite restaurant for a long romantic dinner, look for fun outdoor activities you can do with your Valentine’s Day date. Some great options include hiking, kayaking, fishing, golfing, and bike riding.

Order Take-Out

While going out to your favorite restaurant isn’t the best option this Valentine’s Day, that doesn’t mean you have to face yet another night of your own cooking. The odds are pretty good that your favorite restaurant is offering take out. Place an order. Invite your date to go on a long romantic drive with you that ends when you pick up your meal. Turning the drive into an interesting adventure helps make the take-out Valentine’s Day meal a romantic and happy memory that will live in both of your minds for a long time.

Plan a Picnic

Picnics can be incredibly romantic. You can choose to have a picnic in your favorite park, on your front porch, or on the beach. Just make sure you have a backup plan in case the weather becomes uncooperative. Also, make a list and double-check it while packing your picnic basket. You don’t want to forget anything.

Volunteer

Many people’s first love language is acts of service. You can use this to your advantage by combining your Valentine’s Day date with a volunteering experience. Many non-profit organizations are suffering from a serious lack of volunteers due to the pandemic and will welcome your assistance. The only thing you have to do is identify a non-profit both you and your Valentine’s Day date are passionate about. Contact the organization and find out what volunteering roles they need to be filled on February 14. Who knows, this might turn into the start of a brand new Valentine’s Day tradition.

How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?

 

California Vehicle Exhaust Noise Laws

California Vehicle Exhaust Noise Laws

When it comes to noisy cars people always have one of two opinions: they either think the deep rumble sounds awesome or they think it is the most obnoxious and irritating thing they’ve heard all day. Many feel that a car with either a broken or modified exhaust is a major nuisance and disruption. To simplify the matter, California’s lawmakers created exhaust noise laws. These set a very strict limit on the amount of noise your vehicle can legally make as you drive it down the road.

California’s vehicle exhaust noise laws are addressed in the California Vehicle Codes 27150 – 27153.

California Vehicle Code # 27150 requires that your vehicle have an adequate muffler. This doesn’t just mean that not only does your car has to have muffler, but that it also has to be in good working order. This must be in place when you bring your car in for its registration inspection. The same law states that your vehicle won’t pass its inspection if the muffler or exhaust system has been set up with any type of cutout or bypass.

California Vehicle Code # 27151 prohibits you from making modifications to your exhaust that either directly violate VC 27151 or that raise the decibel level of your vehicle above 88 dbA. If your vehicle weighs less than 6,000 pounds or is a motorcycle, it can’t make noise that exceeds 95 dbA. It’s worth noting that most contemporary vehicles, even the ones that have a nice throaty roar, are designed in such a way that the noise they make doesn’t exceed 75 dbA.

One of the challenges driver’s face is that the way the vehicle codes that deal with excessive noise are written, police officers don’t necessarily know how much noise your exhaust system makes. They can pull you over simply because your vehicle is nosier than the rest of the cars on the road. The current writing of the law allows them to “exercise their own judgment.” There’s a chance that they’ll issue an excessive noise ticket even if your car is within the legal noise limits.

If you’re issued an excessive noise ticket, you’ll have to take your vehicle to a mechanic and have the problem repaired or removed if there’s an illegal modification. The next step is going to the California Referee Center. After looking at both your ticket and your vehicle’s registration the Referee Center will test your exhaust system and determine if it meets the legal requirements. If everything is in order, they’ll issue a Certificate of Compliance which you’ll have to show the traffic court.

The tickets for illegal exhausts and excessive noise vary. For a first offense, the ticket is usually $25 with fees climbing to $193. There have been some instances where the overall cost of the illegal exhaust fines reaching $1,105.

If the police pull you over, it’s possible that they will notice other issues, such as unpaid parking tickets, bench warrants, parole violations, etc. All things considered, it’s in your best interest to keep your car quiet and not attract police attention.

 

What Is Disorderly Conduct In California?

What Is Disorderly Conduct In California?

Disorderly conduct in California isn’t really one specific charge. It’s a blanket term that covers a surprisingly large array and variety of charges.

Charges that fall under the category of disorderly conduct in California include:

If you’re going through California’s laws, you’ll find disorderly conduct mentioned when you read PC 647.

The exact consequences of disorderly conduct in California depend on what type of crime you’ve been charged with. In most cases, you could face up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 or community service.

The biggest consequence connected to disorderly conduct crimes in California is the damage they do to your reputation. They’re a misdemeanor, so once you’ve put the matter behind you, legally it doesn’t have much impact on your life. However, it does mar your reputation and can have a negative impact on your personal relationships and also make it harder to find employment.

The exact defense you and your lawyer decide to mount in a disorderly conduct case will depend heavily on the situation. The most common defenses involve:

  • Complete innocence of the crime.
  • False accusations of the crime.
  • Lack of probable cause.

If you’ve been accused of a disorderly conduct crime, it’s in your best interest to contact a lawyer right away. The sooner you start working with a lawyer, the stronger you’re defense will be.

 

Do The Police Have To Read The Miranda Rights To Juvenile Suspects

Do The Police Have To Read The Miranda Rights To Juvenile Suspects

While the act of questioning and processing juveniles differs from adults, the actual arrest doesn’t differ for the two. It doesn’t matter if the police are dealing with an adult or a minor, the arresting officers must read the arrestee their Miranda Rights.

What Are The Miranda Rights

Most people are familiar with the Miranda Rights. Whenever the police arrest someone who they believe committed a crime, they recite a short speech that serves as a detailed list of rights the prisoner has. The Miranda Rights were named after Ernesto Miranda who went before the U.S. Supreme Court after he self-incriminated himself. During the case, his lawyer argued that Miranda should have been told that he wasn’t required to speak to the police and answer their questions when his lawyer wasn’t present.

When The Miranda Rights Are Read

While procedural shows indicate that the police read the Miranda Rights to a suspect as soon as they’re arrested, it’s not a requirement. Police are allowed to take a suspect into custody without reading them their Miranda Rights. The law states that the police don’t have to read the Miranda Rights to a suspect until they’re ready to interrogate them.

How Do Juvenile Arrests Differ From Adults

In the State of California, when a police officer arrests someone who is under the age of 18, they must recite the Miranda Rights to the suspect. Due to the Terry Stop Law, if the police find a juvenile who they suspect is guilty of committing a crime, they are allowed to ask them a few brief questions, which should be designed to determine if they need to take the youth into custody, without Mirandizing them.

Juveniles who are over the age of 15 are allowed to waive their Miranda Rights. Children under the age of 15 are not legally allowed to waive their Miranda Rights until they’ve spoken to an attorney.

Can The Police Question A Juvenile Without The Child’s Parent

Many parents believe that the police aren’t allowed to question a juvenile without a parent being present. That’s not the case. Under California law, the police can question juvenile suspects without having the parents present. However, if the child asks for their parents, the police must stop the interrogation until the parents are available.

If your child is arrested and has been read their Miranda Rights, as their parent, it’s important to remember that any conversation you have with them while you’re in the police station, even the ones that feel private, could be recorded and monitored.