Riding A Noisy Motorcycle In California

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There was a time when riding a noisy motorcycle in California meant you might get issue a fix-it ticket. While the ticket was irritating, it was also easily correctable. All you had to do was take your motorcycle to a mechanic, have the noise adjusted, prove you changed things, and the ticket went away.

That changed in 2019 when lawmakers decided that there were too many noisy motorcycles on California’s highways. Since the law passed, if you’re motorcycle is considered too loud, you’ll still be issued a ticket, but adjusting the noise won’t make the fine disappear. Whether you have your bike repaired or not, you’ll have to pay a substantial amount of money to the court system.

While you might love a good loud rumbling exhaust while you’re zooming down California’s highways, that sound could really hurt your budget. If you’re issued an excessive noise ticket, the fine could be $1,000.

Don’t assume that as long as you pay the fine, you have nothing to worry about. It’s possible that you’ll be told that you need to do something to make your bike quieter. Plus, you’ll continue collecting tickets and fines until the noise issue is resolved.

Unless you’re riding a motorcycle that was made prior to 1985, the maximum amount of noise you’re bike can make while on public roads is 80 dB. To help you stay within this parameter, you’re not allowed to modify your exhaust with after-market parts which are often designed to exceed 80 dB. If you have to replace your bike’s exhaust system, you want to stick to parts that are EPA certified. Stay away from anything that says it’s for off-road or racing use as these are generally significantly louder than 80 dB.

If you are pulled over because the officer believes your bike is too loud and you disagree, it’s in your best interest to use the video function on your phone to record your bike right after the ticket is written. This will provide you with a way to verify exactly how loud your machine was at the time. If it was less than 80 dB, you can fight the ticket and likely get out of paying the excessive noise fine.

Whether you intend to fight the ticket or simply pay the fine, it’s in your best interest to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. If you wait too long to handle the situation, additional fees could be attached to the ticket and you may even lose your license.

 

Smoking And Driving

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Somewhere along the way, a rumor started to spread. The rumor was that you couldn’t legally smoke and drive a car. This has alarmed many drivers who find that smoking helps them relax and pass the time while they’re stuck in traffic. It’s also likely resulted in the police fielding many calls from concerned motorists who report other drivers smoking while behind the wheel.

The Truth About Smoking And Driving

In California, there aren’t any current laws that prohibit you from smoking or vaping while you’re behind the wheel. That doesn’t mean that you won’t ever get into trouble for the act.

While a patrol officer can’t simply pull you over and issue a citation because you were smoking a cigarette, if you’re smoking causes you to weave all over the road, miss a traffic sign or do something dangerous, you will likely be pulled over and issued a distracted driving ticket.

If you get into an accident because you were distracted by your cigarette, you’ll be responsible and likely ticketed.

Littering is another way that you can get into trouble for smoking while driving. If you’re caught flicking your cigarette butt out of your window while driving, an officer could decide to issue a littering ticket. If the ash from the cigarette you flicked out the window lands on something flammable and starts a fire, you could face additional legal and civil charges.

You’re Cigarette Could Get You Into Trouble Even If You’re Not Driving

Yes, you’re allowed to drive and smoke a cigarette, however, that same cigarette could get you into trouble if you’re car is parked. If you’re parked in a parking lot of a building where smoking is prohibited, such as a school, you can be issued a substantial fine. If you see a no-smoking sign, it’s in your best interest to park somewhere else or to keep your cigarettes locked in your glove box until you’re back on the road.

You Can Legally Smoke Tobacco But Not Weed While Driving

While you’re legally allowed to enjoy tobacco products and vaping in your car, things change if you’re using marijuana. At the moment, lawmakers view weed much like they do alcohol. You’re allowed to use it, but you have to be sensible. That means you can’t drive after you’ve smoked weed. You’re also not allowed to smoke weed (or consume products laced with marijuana) while driving.

If you’re transporting marijuana, make sure it remains tightly packaged until you’ve reached your destination.

 

Flipping Cars In California

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Flipping cars is not a new concept, people have been doing it for decades, but it is only recently that the practice has attracted a great deal of media and legal attention.

What is Flipping Cars?

Flipping cars is the practice of purchasing a vehicle and promptly listing it for sale, at a higher price, hours later. In many cases, the person responsible for flipping the car will claim to have owned the vehicle for a long time, implying that they have an intimate knowledge of the vehicle’s history.

In California, the practice is called curbstoning. While lawmakers frown on flipping cars, at this point, they haven’t worked out a way to prevent people from doing it. Rather than coming up with laws that prohibit curbstoning, California lawmakers have focused their attention on educating buyers of the practice.

Is Flipping Cars Legal?

Many assume that flipping a car is legal in California. In their mind, they’re simply doing what a used car dealer does. The truth is that it is illegal for a non-commercial seller to purchase a vehicle with the intention of promptly selling it for a profit.

It was estimated that in 2011, drivers lost approximately $8 million in schemes that involved flipping cars. The Internet Crime Complain Center reported that they received 4,066 complaints from consumers who found themselves in the middle of a car flipping scam. The sheer volume of reports inspired the Internet Crime Complaint Center to join forces with the FBI and create what is now known as the National White Collar Crime Center. Educating the general public about car flipping car scams is one of the things the agency consistently works on.

Concerns Connected To Car Flipping

The problem with car flipping scams is that the buyer usually thinks they’re getting a great deal. They see a car that appears to be in decent shape and has low mileage. It’s priced significantly lower than what similar cars are going for. The seller usually has a reasonable story to explain the low price.

Usually, it only takes a few weeks, and in some cases days, for the buyer to realize that something is seriously wrong. The vehicle has mechanical problems the seller refused to mention. It’s older than they thought. Often the mileage has been changed. Suddenly, instead of a good deal, the buyer finds that they’re the new owner of a vehicle that requires thousands of dollars in repairs.

How To Prevent Being A Victim Of A Car Flipping Scam

There are a few things you can do to decrease the odds of your being taken advantage of by a car flipper.

  • Ask to see the seller’s drivers license and compare it to the name on the vehicle’s title.
  • Double-check the title for the vehicle’s age.
  • Ask to take the vehicle to a mechanic for a pre-purchase check.

If your instincts are telling you that the deal seems just a little too sweet, trust your instincts and look for a different vehicle.

What Happens To Car Flippers?

Don’t assume that just because car flipping isn’t technically illegal in California that you can turn it into a nice little side hustle.

If someone accuses you of car flipping, there’s a good chance that the police will take a long hard look at the details surrounding the case. They will consider both California’s Lemon Car laws as well as various fraud laws and see if you’ve violated any of them.

Even if the police and DA decide that you’re car flipping side-hustle hasn’t broken any laws, there’s a good chance that the person you sold the car to could decide to file a civil lawsuit against you.

 

Understanding Cyberstalking

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We’ve all turned to the internet when we’ve wanted to learn about a person we’re interested in. For most of us, this involves a quick Google search or reading through their social media posts. That’s fine. It’s not illegal.

However, when the interest goes deeper, it can turn into cyberstalking, which is illegal in California.

According to the Cyberbullying Association, cyberstalking, “involves the use of technology (most often, the internet!) to make someone else afraid or concerned about their safety [1]. Generally speaking, this conduct is threatening or otherwise fear-inducing, involves an invasion of a person’s relative right to privacy, and manifests in repeated actions over time [2]. Most of the time, those who cyberstalk use social media, internet databases, search engines and other online resources to intimidate, follow and cause anxiety or terror to others [3-5].”

California lawmakers opted to add cyberstalking to their stalking laws. Information about the state’s cyberstalking and stalking laws can be found in the California Penal Code section 646.9. When you read through the code, you’ll learn that the state considers stalker to be, “Any person who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking.”

The part of the law that pertains specifically to cyberstalking states that incidents, “performed through the use of an electronic communication device, or a threat implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of verbal, written or electronically communicated statements and conduct, made with the intent to place the person that is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family, and made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat so as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family.”

While the media sensationalizes situations that involve victims being stalked by superfans that they’ve never met, The Cyberbullying Association reports that cyberstalking rarely involves people who aren’t acquainted with one another. According to them, most cyberstalking incidents involve people who do know each other. The bulk of the cyberstalking cases usually involve things like former lovers, students, employees, etc.

There are several reasons people who are normally rational and law-abiding become cyberstalkers. The Tripwire reports that common cyberstalking motives include:

  • Anger
  • Control issues
  • Lust
  • Revenge
  • Envy

There have even been instances of individuals and groups using cyberstalking tactics to influence politics and business decisions.

The alarming thing about cyberstalking is that some victims don’t even realize it’s happening. Publicized cases of cyberstalking usually involve unwanted messages, threats and other bullying tactics, but there have been cases of cyberstalkers who remained silent, using their cyber skills to collect personal information about their victims with the intention of eventually using the information against the person they’re stalking.

In California, cyberstalking is a wobbler crime. One of the interesting things about cyberstalking is that a past history of domestic violence, including having past domestic violence restraining orders filed against you can impact the charges/penalties.

In cyberstalking cases where no prior convictions are present:

  • A misdemeanor conviction has a maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • A felony conviction has a sentence of 16 months-3 years in state prison.

With prior convictions, cyberstalking convictions result in:

  • 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine for a misdemeanor conviction.
  • 2-5 years in state prison for felony convictions.

 

Obstructing The Police In California

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, obstructing the police is, “The offense of hindering a police officer who is in the course of doing his duty (Police Act 1996 s 89). “Obstruction” includes any intentional interference, e.g. by physical force, threats, telling lies or giving misleading information, refusing to cooperate in removing an obstruction or warning a person who has committed a crime so that he or she can escape detection (e.g. warning a speeding driver that there is a police trap ahead).

It is not, however, an offense merely not to answer or to advise someone not to answer, police questions that he does not have to answer. A police officer is acting in the course of his duty if he is preventing or detecting crime (in particular, breaches of the peace) or obeying the orders of his superiors. However, he is not acting in the course of his duty when he is merely assisting the public in some way unconnected with a crime. When the obstruction amounts to an assault, the offense is punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine.

One may be guilty of this offense even if the police officer was in plain clothes.”

The California legal system adheres closely to this definition.

Penal Code Section 148 deals with the legal ins and outs of obstructing the police. The purpose of the law is to make it possible for officers to investigate crimes without having to worry about outside influences having a potentially negative impact on the case.

If you take the time to read through Section 148(a)(1), you’ll discover that obstructing the police charges can be filed against you if you do anything that is considered resisting, delaying or willingly obstructing the police’s ability to conduct an investigation. While obstruction charges typically involve police matters, they can also be filed against anyone who interferes with an EMT, peace offices or firefighter.

Examples of obstruction include:

  • Resisting arrest
  • Deliberately delaying an officer from reaching the scene of a crime/accident/person of interest
  • Attempting to communicate with a suspect that is clearly in police custody
  • Actively giving the police wrong information

One of the interesting things about obstruction charges is that you have to willingly know you’re obstructing the police. Charges shouldn’t be filed against you if you didn’t know that an investigation was taking place or if you didn’t actually know the answer to a question a police officer asked you during the course of an investigation. The same is true if you inadvertently dispose of a piece of evidence that you didn’t know what part of a crime that was under investigation.

Obstructing the police in California is a wobbler defense. The exact circumstances of the case determine whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you’re convicted of felony obstruction in California, you could be sentenced to up to 3 years in a state prison and have to serve felony probation.

Obstruction cases are always complicated. Given the difficult nature of these cases, it’s in your best interest to quickly seek out a good lawyer and get the case cleared up as quickly as possible while the details remain fresh in everyone’s mind.

 

Understanding Statute Of Limitations In California

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Statute of limitations is a term that gets thrown around a lot on legal shows but not everyone fully understands what they are.

The truth is that the statute of limitations is a very important legal term that addresses whether or not you can be charged for an old crime. The problem is that different crimes have different statutes of limitations.

For example, in California, the statute of limitations on felony fraud, public official misconduct and embezzlement against dependents crimes is four years. In these types of cases, it’s important to understand that the four years don’t necessarily start when the crime is committed but rather when the crime is discovered or the completion of the offense. The prosecutor will look at which date is closer when determining if the statute of limitations has expired.

The statute of limitation for most felony sex offenses that require you to have your name placed on the sex offender registration is ten years. The exception is some felony sex crimes committed against a child which have a statute of limitations that’s determined by the victim’s 40th birthday.

Not all crimes are impacted by a statute of limitations. Crimes that don’t have a statute of limitations include:

  • First-degree murder
  • Rape (that involves force/violence)
  • Embezzlement of money that was drawn from public funds
  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child
  • Treason

A statute of limitations doesn’t just apply to criminal charges. It also impacts any civil cases you’re named in.

The problem with the statute of limitations is figuring out when they go into effect. In some situations it’s when the crime was committed, in others, it’s when the crime was first discovered. There are also cases where the date is determined by when the crime ended. The best way to determine how the statute of limitations works in a case you’re involved with is by contacting a good defense lawyer who has a solid understanding of cases like yours.

If you suspect that the statute of limitations is about to go into effect sooner rather than later, you’ll want to act quickly.

 

California’s Attitude Towards Hit And Run Accidents

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When it comes to hit and run accidents, California’s lawmakers don’t have a sense of humor. They created laws that deal with hit and run accidents that simply involve property damage, and for hit and run accidents that resulted in someone getting hurt. If you’re charged with a hit and run, you must understand the difference between the two types of incidents.

A hit-and-run accident that simply results in property damage isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t matter if you hit someone’s mailbox and knocked it over or if you rear-ended their car and fled the scene of the accident. As long as only property was damaged, you’ll only face misdemeanor charges.

That changes if someone was hurt during the accident. If someone was hurt, you’ll be facing felony charges.

What Is A Hit And Run Accident?

When you were first learning how to drive a car, you should have learned that California law states that if you were involved in an accident, you’re legally required to move your vehicle into a spot where it’s not going to cause additional accidents and report the accident to the police. You’re supposed to stay at the scene until the police tell you that you’re free to go. The only exception is if you don’t have a working phone and need to go to a nearby house/business and use their phone to report the accident. Once you’ve reported the accident, you need to return to the accident scene.

You’re legally involved in a hit and run accident if:

  • You leave the scene of an accident.
  • Fail to report the accident.
  • Neglect to provide all involved parties with your identity and insurance information.

One Important Fact About Hit And Run Accidents In California

When most people hear that the police are looking for a person/vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident, they assume that they are looking for the driver who caused the accident. That’s not always the case. In California, you are required to stay at the scene even if you were the victim of another person’s driving. If you leave, the police will start looking for you.

There have even been cases of a driver getting involved in a hit and run even though they weren’t actually involved in the accident. They became involved because it was their driving that triggered the accident. If you even suspect you were involved in the accident, you need to remain on the scene.

What If The Property Owner Isn’t There?

There are some situations where you might not be able to talk to the property owner. Examples of this would be bumping into a parked car or hitting a mailbox. Don’t assume that because the property owner isn’t there that you’re off the hook. The best response is to call the police and get them involved in the situation. Another option is to leave a note that provides the property owner with your contact information.

What Happens If You’re Convicted Of A Hit And Run Accident?

If you’re convicted of a hit-and-run accident a few different things will happen. The first is that you’ll be responsible for the traffic ticket and other consequences related to the accident. If the accident only involved property damage, you only face misdemeanor charges which includes a maximum sentence of six months in jail, probation, two points getting added to your driving record, and a $1,000 fine. You’ll also have to make restitution.

If someone is hurt during the accident, you’ll be convicted of a felony. The maximum sentence includes a fine that can be as high as $10,000, three years in a state prison, and restitution.

There have been multiple cases where the hit and run driver was convicted of both misdemeanor and felony hit and run charges.

No matter how bad things might seem following an accident, the situation will only get worse if you drive away. If you think that no one will notice, remember that between traffic cameras, cell phones, and dashboard cameras, it’s likely that there will be a great deal of footage of your vehicle, including your license plate so it won’t be difficult for the police to track you down.

 

Landscape Architects In California

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Anyone who has ever tried to maintain a lawn or dabbled in landscaping knows that beautiful flower beds and breathtaking landscaping doesn’t simply happen. Many of the gorgeous lawns and pretty little landscaped areas within cities are the handiwork of people who are known as California’s landscape architects.

While most people assume that California’s landscape architects work in residential yards, the truth is that they handle a wide assortment of tasks, including:

  • Site revegetation and maintenance
  • Erosion control
  • Roadside aesthetic designs
  • Highway planting projects
  • Contour grading
  • Mitigation design

Landscape architects are also contacted when a community needs a visual impact assessment performed. This is often done when a community wishes to change the overall vibe of the area in an attempt to either gentrify or attract new residents/businesses.

It’s not uncommon for someone who has a green thumb and a decent eye for landscaping to decide to offer to take over someone’s yard in an effort to earn a little extra money. What some people don’t realize is that this little attempt at a side hustle can get them into legal trouble.

The reality is that before you start offering your skills in exchange for payment, you should take some time to review California’s Landscape Architecture laws which are covered by the California State Professional Licensing Laws. When you take the time to read over the laws that pertain to landscape architects, one of the first things you’ll learn is that you can’t beautify a person’s yard in exchange for money until you’ve obtained a special business license.

Loving beautiful outdoor spaces and maintaining a couple of nice flower beds isn’t enough for you to get a landscape architecture license. Before you can start landscaping for money, the California Landscape Architects Technical Committee requires that you obtain at least one year of education. In addition to the schooling, you also have to spend two years getting some practical training, usually in the form of working for an already fully qualified landscape architect. It looks like the practical training should be completed after you’ve taken the classes the committee requires for your educational credit.

If you fail to complete the requirements needed to become a fully licensed landscape architect and choose to run a business without a license, you could face:

  • The suspension of your business
  • Local lawmakers fining you for non-compliance
  • Liability lawsuits
  • Government-mandated closure of your business for non-compliance

You’ll also likely have a difficult time getting the insurance and loans needed to run a successful and safe landscaping business.

In many cases of a business operating without a license, the law protects the clients. Failing to meet the licensing requirements means that you won’t be able to sue a client who doesn’t honor their part of a contract, such as paying you for your service.

When all is said and done, it’s in your best interest to go through the proper channels and meet the education requirements needed to work as a fully licensed and insured landscape architect in California.

 

Child Endangerment In California

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California’s lawmakers believe that adults have a moral and legal responsibility to protect children. Failing to do so can put you on the wrong side of the law.

The California Penal Code 273a PC deals with the issue of child endangerment.

The interesting thing about Penal Code 273a PC is that while it deals with child endangerment, it isn’t the same law that defines child abuse.

The idea behind child endangerment is that the episode is often a single episode. It doesn’t always involve a child getting hurt, but rather addresses the fact that a child, which according to the California legal system is anyone under the age of 18, could have been hurt or killed as a direct result of your actions. Getting behind the wheel and driving drunk while your passenger is a minor, is a good example of a child endangerment case.

Additional examples of child endangerment include:

  • Hiring the services of a babysitter who has an abusive past.
  • Exposing your child to a dangerous animal.
  • Failing to notice that your child is playing in the middle of a busy road.
  • Leaving a firearm laying around the house while a child is present.

Many parents don’t realize that in extreme cases, failing to seek medical assistance for a child who is for an extremely sick or badly injured child can be considered child endangerment.

Just because you’ve been accused of child abuse and the case has gone to trial, it doesn’t mean you’ll be sent to jail.

In order to be convicted of child endangerment in California, the prosecutor has to effectively prove that you knew there was a chance that your actions (or lack of action) created a situation where the child was in danger.

Defenses that have been successfully used in child endangerment cases include:

  • You couldn’t have known that the child was potentially in danger.
  • The child wasn’t your responsibility.
  • You were falsely accused (false accusations of child endangerment aren’t uncommon in cases that also involve a custody dispute).
  • The endangerment was completely accidental.

You’ll be surprised to learn that child endangerment is one of California’s wobbler laws. The details of the case determine if you’re charged/convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony.

If there was a chance that the situation could have resulted in death or extreme injuries to the child, you should expect the prosecutor to pursue felony child endangerment charges.

If you’re convicted, the potential consequences could include:

  • A fine that doesn’t exceed $10,000.
  • Getting sentenced to anywhere from 2 to 6 years on a state prison.

If it doesn’t appear that the child could have been severely injured or died as a result of your actions, the prosecutor will go after a misdemeanor charge.

If you’re convicted, you could:

  • Be sentenced to up to one year in the county jail.
  • Be charged a fine that doesn’t exceed $1,000.

The best way to avoid child endangerment charges in California is using common sense and avoid dangerous situations whenever possible.

 

Riding A Moped In California

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Mopeds are a great source of transportation, especially for doing things like commuting to work when you live in the city. They are small enough to be easily stored, even in areas where parking a regular car or motorcycle is difficult. They sip fuel. And they are easy to handle.

Many people have found that mopeds are cost-effective form of transportation.

If you’re thinking of using a moped as your daily commuter, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

If you’re planning on riding a moped in California, you have to be serious about protecting your brain. You don’t have to purchase an expensive motorcycle helmet, but state law requires that you do wear a bicycle helmet.

When you decide to drive a moped, you don’t have to worry about insuring the moped. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about a driver’s license. In order to use the moped on public property, such as city streets, you do need an M1 or M2 class license. You also need to have a special license plate for your moped. The good news is that the license will only cost you $23 and it’s a one-time expense for as long as you own the moped.

Don’t assume that you’ll be able to drive your moped wherever you want. Legally, you’re only allowed to operate a moped on streets that have a speed limit of 25 mph or lower. That makes using the moped in rural settings difficult. You’re also usually allowed to use the moped on trails lanes that are designated for bike traffic. You’re not allowed to ride your moped on sidewalks.

Don’t assume that because you’re on a moped which is significantly less powerful than a car or motorcycle, that you can let down your guard and stop paying attention. It’s extremely important that you pay careful attention and drive defensively while astride your moped. Not only do you want to be aware of what everyone around you is doing so that you can avoid getting injured, but you also want to take care and make sure your actions don’t result in damaged property or in someone getting seriously hurt.

Never forget that while mopeds are small and cute, they’re still motorized vehicles and capable of a great deal of damage.