The Truth About Doxing

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While it’s possible you’ve never heard the term doxing, you’ve likely seen examples of it.

Doxing, which is a shortened version of dropping dox, refers to starting an online attack. It goes further than simply getting into a virtual argument with someone. If you’ve been involved in doxing personal information, such as addresses, phone numbers, or personal documents were posted online.

While doxing is commonly associated with the internet, it actually predates the World Wide Web. The term was originally used in the early ’90s. It was during this time that hackers learned how to use computers and personal information to steal identities and infiltrate businesses.

When doxing became a problem online, the big issue was that the doxers would reveal our real names on the websites where we’d created an anonymous identity. Even though most of us use our real names on our social media accounts, there is still quite a bit of information we don’t want to be revealed online. This is exactly the information doxers want to exploit.

What Type Of Information Is Considered Doxing?

Doxers look for very specific information that they can use for their benefit, including:

  • Bank account information
  • Employment information
  • Criminal history
  • Home address
  • Private correspondence
  • Telephone number
  • Personal photos (not the ones that we typically post online, but rather the ones we prefer to remain private)
  • Social Security numbers
  • Embarrassing personal details
  • Credit card numbers

Is Doxing Illegal?

There’s no getting around the fact that doxing is immoral, but deciding whether it’s illegal is a tougher matter.

In 2017, federal lawmakers attempted to make doxing a federal crime, but the legislation failed to pass. In December 2020, the issue was once again raised. After a large number of state and federal lawmakers were threatened, some GOPs decided it was time to take another look at doxing. They proposed that it be included in the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017.

In California, there aren’t any laws that directly name doxing, but depending on the type of information that’s released, authorities could choose to pursue internet harassment charges.

Californians aren’t allowed to use electronic devices to:

  • Intentionally make another person worry about their safety.
  • Share personal information in a harassing manner.

If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to one year in jail and/or charged up to a $1,000 fine.

If you know personal information about another person, it’s in your best interest to contact the person privately rather than post it on your social media page.

 

How To Respond To An Employee Arrest

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You’re normally reliable employee failed to show up for their regular shift. Concerned, you make a few calls and learn that they were arrested. Now you have to figure out what you should do.

Remain Calm

It’s easy to get angry about the fact that you’re not only now down an employee for the day, but that you don’t know what the future holds for them. Instead of doing something you will regret, take a few calming breaths. Panicking won’t accomplish anything.

Don’t make a hasty judgment about the employee and terminate their employment. At this point, the only thing you know is that they’re in jail. You don’t know why. It’s entirely possible that they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and didn’t do anything wrong. If that’s the case, the charges will likely be dropped and you won’t have to lose a good employee over a simple misunderstanding.

Don’t Gossip

Don’t tell your other employees that their co-worker has been arrested. Simply let them know that the person isn’t coming in that day. It’s better for everyone if you wait until your employee is out of jail and back to work and can decide for themselves if they want everyone to know what happened. By resisting the urge to gossip, you avoid setting yourself up for a potential slander lawsuit.

The best thing about ignoring the desire to gossip is that your employee will appreciate your discretion and become intensely loyal to both you and your business.

Have A Meeting With Your Employee

While your employee doesn’t have to speak to their co-workers about what happened, and while you shouldn’t discuss the situation with the rest of your employees, you should have a sit down meeting with your employee and discuss their arrest. Hearing their side of the story allows you to decide how you want to proceed.

If you decide to keep your employee on, you need to remember that they’ll likely need some time off so that they can honor court appointments and meet with their lawyer. You will have to decide how they can make up for all the time they need to take off.

The most important thing to remember when one of your employees is arrested is that you don’t want to act out of a knee jerk reaction. Whether you decide to keep them on your payroll or decide to let them go, give yourself plenty of time to consider all of your options and the potential consequences of each one.

 

Criminal Charges Vs. Civil Charges

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One of the things that makes the American legal system confusing is that we have both criminal charges and civil charges.

Criminal charges are a straightforward part of the legal process. If you break the law, you’re arrested and criminal charges are filed against you. You have the option of pleading guilty to these charges. If you don’t plead guilty, the case goes to trial and a jury will decide if you’re guilty.

Civil charges are more complicated. Civil charges involve the victims of the crime. The civil court provides victims with an opportunity to do two things. First, they can face the person who they believe impacted the quality of their life. The second thing civil charges do is provide the victims with an opportunity to seek financial retribution.

If you’re unlucky enough to be hit with both criminal and civil charges, you’ll quickly notice that the two cases are handled quite differently.

The punishment in criminal cases usually involves fines, jail time, community service, or probation.

  • The punishment in civil cases is always financial.
  • There is a different standard of proof in civil and criminal cases.
  • Defendants in criminal cases have different guaranteed protections.
  • Juries are only used in very specific civil cases, most of the time it’s the judge who makes the final civil case ruling.

One of the things the O.J. Simpson case proved was that even if you’re not found guilty of the crime in a criminal case, you can be found guilty during a civil case. The reason Simpson was found guilty during the civil case even though he’d been found not-guilty during the criminal case is that a different standard of proof is required in the cases.

One of the first things criminal juries are told is that they can only find the defendant guilty if the prosecutor has proven that the defendant committed the crimes “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means that if there is any question in the jury’s mind that someone else committed the crime, they must find the defendant not guilty. In the O.J Simpson criminal trial, the jury voted not-guilty because there was evidence that suggested someone else could have committed the murders. In his civil case, there was enough evidence to suggest he had.

The “beyond a reasonable doubt” concept disappears in civil cases. In those cases, if the judge (and in rare situations, a jury) looks for a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that if all the evidence suggests that the defendant committed the crime, they’ll be found guilty of the civil charges.

One of the interesting things about civil cases is that the people who filed the charges against the defendant not only seek financial restitution for actual costs, such as medical bills following a DUI accident but can also seek punitive costs which include pain and suffering.

Considering the extremely high cost of both criminal and civil cases, it’s in your best interest to think twice before you commit a criminal act that could result in you facing both criminal and civil charges.

 

What Happens If I Make A Fake Or Prank 911 Call

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Making a fake or prank phone call to 911 might seem like good fun but it’s not something you want to follow through with. Neither law enforcement offices nor court officials have a sense of humor.

To put it simply, making fake or prank 911 calls is illegal. In some situations, that single phone call could even result in felony charges.

The best way to learn just how much trouble making a fake or prank 911 call can land you in is by setting aside a few minutes to read California’s Penal Code 148.3. When you do, you’ll learn that you can’t:

  • Call 911 and make a fake report of a crime, injury, or accident.
  • Make a 911 call that results in the dispatcher or a law enforcement making a 911 report.
  • Use 911 to report a fictional emergency.
  • Call 911 and make a report that you know is false.

Law enforcement can choose to file charges against you if your fake/prank 911 call results:

  • In the deployment of emergency vehicles.
  • A building/area is evacuated in response to your call.
  • The call prompts the 911 dispatcher to activate the state or local Emergency Alert System.

The law very clearly states that anyone who makes a fake/prank 911 call can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. What is less clear is how the decision to pursue a misdemeanor or felony case is made. The general rule of thumb is that if someone is hurt, the prosecutor will push for felony charges.

Making a single prank/fake 911 call in California can have a seriously negative impact on your budget. If you’re found guilty, you could be:

  • Spend a full year in a county jail.
  • Be fined up to $1,000.

The cost doesn’t stop with the court fines. Depending on how much effort local agencies made to respond to your fake 911 call, the emergency response team that was involved will likely send you a bill that includes all the expenses they incurred as a result of your call.

Fake/prank 911 calls officially became illegal in California in 2013. Local lawmakers choose to crack down on these types of calls because they were tired of the calls tying up local resources and making it impossible to respond to valid emergencies.

In Los Angeles, fake/prank 911are sometimes referred to as swatters because of the number of times a fake 911 call resulted in a swat team getting deployed to a celebrity’s house.

Considering how much a fake/prank 911 call in California could cost you, it’s in your best interest to avoid using the number for anything that isn’t a genuine emergency.

 

Disorderly Conduct In California

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One of the problems with California’s legal system is that sometimes it’s difficult to know that you’re breaking the law. In many disorderly conduct cases, people think they’re just having a good time or being opinionated until the police show up. Sometimes people don’t even know what they’ve done until they hear the charges as the booking officer works through the paperwork.

What is considered disorderly conduct can vary from one state to another. Some cities even have different rules regarding what is and isn’t disorderly conduct.

In California, disorderly conduct is generally considered behavior that irritates, stresses, or alarms those around you. That doesn’t mean your little sister can file disorderly conduct charges against you each time you annoy her while you’re at home. However, if the pair of you are at a bar and you start shouting at her, the other bar patrons will likely call the police and you could be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Most disorderly conduct cases in California involve at least one person who is publicly intoxicated.

In addition to getting too wild while at the bar, California considers the following activities to be forms of disorderly conduct:

  • Lewd/lascivious acts
  • Soliciting
  • Engaging in prostitution
  • Loud public arguments
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Peeping

Sometimes loitering can be an instance of disorderly conduct.

The Consequences Of Disorderly Conduct In California

Disorderly conduct in California is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted and it’s a first offense, you could be sentenced to six months in jail and/or be charged a $1,000 fine. If you already have disorderly conduct charges on your record, the punishment could be more severe.

In some cases, disorderly conduct can be connected with additional charges, such as:

  • Simple assault
  • Trespassing
  • Public Intoxication

Disorderly Conduct Defenses In California

Putting together a good defense case in California when you’re dealing with a disorderly conduct charge isn’t always easy. Some defenses that have been successfully used in the past include:

  • Invoking Freedom of Speech
  • That you were acting in self-defense
  • That you were falsely accused
  • That it was a domestic dispute (this is a tricky defense if you were in a public building at the time)

If you know that you tend to get loud and do rash things when you’re having a good time and drinking, it’s in your best interest to either stay home or make sure you go out with someone who can stop your behavior and help you regain control before anyone calls the police.

 

Understanding Slander In California

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Most Americans know that the First Amendment grants the right to free speech. The problem that many of us encounter is we don’t fully grasp the differences between free speech and slander.

What Is Free Speech?

Many of us interpret the First Amendment to mean that we’re free to say whatever we want, to whomever we want, and whenever we want. That’s not the way free speech works. The purpose of free speech is to provide Americans with the ability to openly speak against the government without fear of legal ramifications.

What freedom of speech doesn’t do is allow you to say whatever you want about neighbors, family, and businesses you don’t like.

What Is Slander?

The legal definition of slander is, oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. Damages (payoff for worth) for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malicious intent, since such damages are usually difficult to specify and harder to prove. Some statements such as an untrue accusation of having committed a crime, having a loathsome disease, or being unable to perform one’s occupation are treated as slander per se since the harm and malice are obvious, and therefore usually result in general and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed. Words spoken over the air on television or radio are treated as libel (written defamation) and not slander on the theory that broadcasting reaches a large audience as much if not more than printed publications.”

In California, slander legally takes place when:

  • You say something that you know is untrue.
  • When you make a statement that you know isn’t privileged.
  • When you make a statement that is said with the intent to do harm or cause an injury.

The Legal Consequences Of Slander

In California, slander is a civil, not a legal matter. It’s also a case that’s tricky to defend. In this case, the individual who filed the charges has to prove their case. In order to convince a judge to rule against you, they have to prove without a shadow of a doubt that you knew that whatever you said was untrue and that you made the statement knowing that it would harm the individual’s emotions, reputation, or business.

In addition to proving that you did in fact deliberately make slanderous comments, the person who files the charges against you also has to prove to the court that they sustained damages that you should reimburse them for. In addition to actual damages, the filer will also likely seek money to cover their emotional trauma.

The best way to avoid getting into a slander dispute with someone is to make sure you never say anything that you aren’t able to prove. If you’re unsure about the validity of a statement, it’s in your best interest to keep it to yourself. 

 

Understanding Assault With A Deadly Weapon

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Assault with a deadly weapon is basically what it sounds like. It means you are accused of assaulting someone and at the time you had something that could have been considered a deadly weapon. Like most legal issues, assault with a deadly weapon isn’t as simple as we would like it to be.

What Is A Deadly Weapon?

The first issue that comes up during assault with deadly weapon trials is if the object was deadly. Most of us hear deadly weapons and we instantly think of things like guns and knives. We don’t usually realize that many of the things that are simply laying around your house could be considered a deadly weapon in the right situation. In the heat of the moment, a shoe, pen, heavy beer bottle, or dog leash could become a deadly weapon. There have even been situations when a person bit or clawed an opponent and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon due to the sheer amount of damage their teeth and nails did to the victim.

Why It’s Important To Understand What A Deadly Weapon Is

Assault with a deadly weapon isn’t a simple thing in California, in large part because it’s one of the state’s wobbler laws. Depending on the circumstances, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you’re convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon you could spend the next four years in a state prison and be hit with up to $10,000 in fines. You’ll also probably have to go through a felony probation period.

If a gun is involved, the situation becomes even more complicated. If you have a simple handgun during the assault, the DA has the option of charging you with a misdemeanor. However, if the gun was a machine gun, an assault weapon, a semi-automatic, or a .50 BMG rifle, you’re automatically hit with felony charges. If you’re found guilty of felony assault with a deadly weapon that included one of the listed firearms, you could be sentenced to twelve years in prison.

Potential Defenses In Assault With A Deadly Weapon

Just because you’ve been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, that doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. There are several, legal defenses you can use, including:

  • Someone was mistaken and you weren’t in possession of a deadly weapon at the time of the assault.
  • You didn’t intend to use the weapon.
  • You acted in self-defense.

Because assault with a deadly weapon in California is complicated, it’s in your best interest to hire an experienced defense attorney as soon as you hear the charges.

 

When Does A Prank Go Too Far?

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Most of us have been involved in pranks, both as the person pulling the prank on another and as someone who has been pranked. In most cases, the pranks are fun and no one is emotionally or physically hurt, but there is always an exception.

The best indicator that a prank has gone too far is when the police has gotten involved. In the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter if you were pulling a prank or if you deliberately set about to hurt someone. If a law was broken, you could end up in jail.

Most pranks attract legal attention because someone has gotten seriously hurt or property was damaged during the prank.

Here is a small sample of the type of pranks that could potentially get you into hot legal water.

Making Prank Calls

Prank calls seem harmless. You make a simple phone call, you confuse the person on the other end of the line, you have a good laugh. You can’t possibly get into trouble, right?

Wrong. Making a prank phone call to a friend or family member usually isn’t a big deal, but if you start calling strangers, you could quickly learn that not everyone thinks your funny. Depending on what you say or how many times you call, the person on the other end of the line might decide to contact the police and report that you’re harassing them. If the person pranking is tired of your antics, you could be charged with everything from disorderly conduct to harassment.

Wet Willies

Given that we’re currently in the middle of a pandemic, you should realize that most people don’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to bodily fluid, or even being touched, so you should already know that giving someone a wet willie, which involves sticking your saliva covered finger in their ear is a bad idea. What you probably didn’t realize is that it will remain a bad idea even after the pandemic ends. If the person whose ear you insert your finger into objects to the act, they can contact the police and file assault charges against you.

Trespassing

Sneaking across a buddy’s yard and playing a prank on them might seem like big fun, but make sure anyone else who lives in the house won’t mind your prank. If they don’t know it’s coming or they fail to be amused, they can file trespassing charges against you.

This is just a small sample of pranks that could go too far and result in you facing criminal and civil charges. If you’re planning on pulling a prank, it’s in your best interest to consider all the potential consequences of your actions and determine if the risk is still worthwhile.

 

What Happens If You’re A Drunk Passenger In A Car Driven By A Drunk Driver?

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The law is clear. If your blood alcohol level is 0.08% or higher and you’re pulled over, you’ll be charged with a DUI. What isn’t clear is what happens if you’re the drunk passenger in a vehicle that’s being operated by a drunk driver.

The good news is that you can’t be charged with a DUI. That particular law only impacts people who are physically operating the vehicle at the time.

That doesn’t mean you’re completely off the hook. It’s entirely likely that the police officer will consider other things they can charge you. It’s not uncommon for drunken passengers to be charged with public drunkenness, underage drinking, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, etc. In many cases, the exact charges you face will be determined by how badly you behaved when the car you were in was pulled over. If you sit quietly, do everything the officer asks, and find a sober driver to give you a lift home, it’s likely the officer will let you go.

What If You Caused The Accident?

There have been cases when a passenger was charged with a DUI. Some of these cases involve a drunk driver, but there have been some where the driver was sober and was helping transport a drunk passenger. Most of these situations involved the passenger grabbing the steering wheel and yanking the car off course. Since you were behaving as the operator at that moment, you can be charged with a DUI.

Civil Liability

Things can take a different turn if the officer suspects that you knew the driver was drunk. It hasn’t happened in California yet, but some states have gone so far as to create DUI by consent laws that means anyone who knew the driver was drunk and failed to stop them from getting behind the wheel faces serious criminal charges.

In California, knowingly allowing someone to get behind the wheel even though you knew they were drunk creates the perfect situation for anyone who was hurt by the drunk driver to file a civil lawsuit against you. In many cases, this type of lawsuit favors the plaintiff, meaning you could lose everything. Not only could the victims of the drunk driving accident file civil charges against you, if your drunk driving friend is hurt or killed in the accident, their family might also name you in a lawsuit.

If you are unable to convince a drunk friend to let you drive them home, it’s in your best interest to contact the police and alert them of the situation. By letting everyone know there is a problem, you create proof that you did everything in your power to stop them from driving which makes it difficult for anyone to mount a civil case against you.

 

The Difference Between Manslaughter And Involuntary Manslaughter

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From a legal standpoint, manslaughter is, “the unlawful killing of a human being without any malice aforethought.”

What that means is that something you did resulted in the death of someone else. What separates it from other types of murder charges is that you didn’t actively think you were going to do something that would trigger their death. There was zero premeditation.

What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter, which is sometimes referred to as voluntary manslaughter, happens when the court rules that the victim provoked you. A perfect example of this is if you’re at a bar and someone is harassing you. If you decide you’ve had enough and punch your heckler and they die, that’s manslaughter.

You didn’t plan on murdering the person and their actions provoked the attack, but at the same time, you knew when you threw the punch, there was a chance it could end with a fatality.

Manslaughter is often considered an event that takes place in the “heat of passion.” In most cases of voluntary manslaughter, the defendant realizes that they could have and should have walked away from the situation rather than engaging with the victim.

What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is a little more confusing. It happens when your actions directly led to the death of another, but you didn’t act maliciously. Examples of involuntary manslaughter often involve cars. Examples include getting into a fatal accident because you were speeding, texting, driving under the influence, or failed to properly maintain your vehicle.

Consequences Of Manslaughter

If you’re convicted of voluntary manslaughter in California, the potential legal consequences include:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • Anywhere from 3-11 years in prison
  • Community service
  • Mandatory anger management counseling
  • Losing the ability to own a firearm

Voluntary manslaughter is one of California’s three-strikes law.

The legal consequence of involuntary manslaughter in California include:

  • 2-4 year in jail
  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Probation

You may also face additional charges such as reckless endangerment, DUI, etc.