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April 2021

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What is Felony Stalking

By | Bail Bond in Fresno, Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Bail Bonds in Los Angeles, Bail Bonds in Tulare, Bail Bonds In Visalia, Carls Bail Bonds, Los Angeles Bail Bonds

While everyone knows that stalking is a crime, few realize that it can be a felony or a misdemeanor (and in some cases, the accused might be charged with both a felony and a misdemeanor.)

Every single state has stalking laws. While the nuances of stalking laws vary from one state to another, for the most part, each state has the same description of what can be considered stalking. As a rule, any behavior that can be considered prolonged harassment, an obvious attempt to frighten someone, the unwanted monitoring of a person, using proximity to threaten a person, or actions that lead to emotional distress is covered by stalking laws.

Anyone who engages in the following types of behavior will likely be charged and convicted of stalking in California:

  • Going out of your way to follow a person
  • Frequently showing up at locations where you know a specific person will be
  • Using GPS to monitor a person’s movements
  • Constantly filming/photographing someone without their permission
  • Obsessively monitoring someone’s social media accounts, phone calls/texts, reading their emails, and studying their computer activities
  • Going out of your way to gather as much information as you can about a specific person
  • Leveling threats against a person or their loved ones (including pets) if they don’t spend time with you
  • Instigating property damage
  • Sending gifts and other forms of communication after you’ve been told to stop doing so

While it’s true that it can sometimes be difficult to determine when stalking crosses the line from a misdemeanor and becomes a felony, the general rule of thumb is that anything that seems more intense than simple harassment will likely be considered a case of felony stalking.

Penalities For Stalking

The exact punishment a person receives following a stalking conviction in California often varies from one case to the next. When handing down a sentence, the judge looks at a variety of factors, including:

  • Your criminal history
  • The type/intensity of the stalking episodes
  • If the victim had a POP order that you ignored
  • If anyone was hurt because of your actions

The sentence for a misdemeanor conviction can include spending a maximum of one year in county jail and being required to pay a fine that doesn’t exceed $1,000. In most cases, you’ll also be told that you’re legally required to stay away from your victim and that you’re also not allowed to contact them.

The sentence for a felony stalking conviction in California can include spending three years in state prison. If you have prior stalking convictions on your record, you could be sentenced to five years in prison.

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What is a Bench Warrant?

By | Bail Bond in Fresno, Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Bail Bonds in Los Angeles, Bail Bonds in Tulare, Bail Bonds In Visalia, Carls Bail Bonds, Los Angeles Bail Bonds

California has three different types of warrants. Each one serves a different purpose. Search warrants and arrest warrants are the ones that most people are familiar with, mostly because they play huge roles in various procedural shows. The third type of warrant is called a bench warrant.

The majority of the warrants currently active in California are bench warrants.

While a bench warrant means you can be arrested if the police find you, they aren’t the same as an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant typically means you’re suspected of committing a crime or wanted for questioning in regard to a crime.

When Is a Bench Warrant Issued?

Bench warrants are typically issued because you failed to do something you were supposed to take care of. Common reasons bench warrants are sworn out include:

  • You failed to report to a court date (a bench warrant can be issued even if you were supposed to be on the jury or serve as a witness)
  • Failed to pay a court fine/traffic ticket
  • Fell behind on court-ordered child support
  • Failed to follow an order that demanded you vacate a property
  • Broke the terms of your probation
  • Etc.

Once a bench warrant has been sworn out for you, the police can choose to go to the last address they have on file for you. If you’re home, they can arrest you.

While there are instances where the police will show up at a person’s front door with a bench warrant in hand, a surprising number of bench warrant arrests happen because of traffic stops. When the police run a background check on the driver, information about the bench warrant pops up, and the police take the driver directly to jail.

It’s important to note that there’s no expiration date on bench warrants. They remain in effect until the person named on the warrant is arrested or they die.

In the long run, it’s in your best interest to deal with the bench warrant and the legal matter it involves on your time rather than waiting until you get arrested. The first step is finding out if a bench warrant has been issued for you.

Do You Have a Bench Warrant?

Different ways to learn if you’ve been named on a bench warrant include:

Checking the sheriff’s or court’s website in the county where you think the warrant would have been issued:

  • Checking the Superior Court of California’s website
  • Running a criminal background check on yourself
  • Using the California Arrests Website

If a bench warrant has been sworn out for you, it’s in your best interest to contact a good lawyer and have them guide you through the process of dealing with the legal matter that led to the issuing of the bench warrant.

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Penalties of Stealing and Holding Pets for Ransom

By | Bail Bond in Fresno, Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Bail Bonds in Los Angeles, Bail Bonds in Tulare, Bail Bonds In Visalia, Carls Bail Bonds, Los Angeles Bail Bonds

You love your pets and would do anything for them. Unfortunately, the world is full of people who know how much you value your pets and they want to benefit from your devotion. This isn’t about pet stores charging ridiculously high prices for toys, or breeders selling badly bred animals, or even dog clubs raising their training fees. This is about people who have no reservations about stealing a pet and holding them for ransom.

The issue recently came to light following the dognapping of Lady Gaga’s pet dogs. There is speculation that the dogs were deliberately targeted and that the end goal was to use them for ransom. It’s likely that thieves think that the police aren’t likely to become involved in these types of cases and that people will pay a great deal to have their pets returned.

It’s even likely that dognappers don’t plan on demanding a ransom. In most cases, the distraught owners promptly offer a sizeable reward for the return of their pets. In Lady Gaga’s case, she is offering a $500,000 reward in an effort to get her dogs back. While most dog owners can’t afford to offer that type of reward, a reward of a few hundred dollars can still be enough to convince someone that grabbing an unattended dog is worthwhile.

California’s Stance on Animal Theft

While you might think of your dog as a child, California’s legal system doesn’t. If your dog is stolen, and the dog is value exceeds $950, it’s considered Grand Theft.

According to California Penal Code (PC) § 487e, 487f, 487g, 491, felony grand theft with an animal involves, “a person who feloniously steals, takes, or carries away a dog of another where the dog’s value exceeds $950.”

    It goes on to state that, “If a person steals or maliciously takes an animal for purposes of sale, medical research, slaughter, or other commercial use, he or she commits a public offense punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding 1 year or in a state prison.”

If the stolen dog isn’t worth at least $950, the individual who stole the animal can be charged with petty theft. A guilty conviction can include a six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.

Tips To Help Keep Your Pets Safe

As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your pets healthy and safe. This includes taking steps to make them less appealing to thieves. Ways of doing this include:

  • Never leaving them outside unattended.
  • Change your walking route each time you take them out.
  • Getting them microchipped.

As soon as your pet goes missing, you need to contact local vets, animal shelters, and the police.

At this point, there aren’t any clear penalties that would be associated with holding a pet for ransom.

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Domestic Violence in California

By | Bail Bond in Fresno, Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Bail Bonds in Los Angeles, Bail Bonds in Tulare, Bail Bonds In Visalia, Carls Bail Bonds, Los Angeles Bail Bonds

Domestic violence is a complex crime so it shouldn’t come as surprise to learn that the laws dealing with domestic violence are equally complicated.

The first step in unraveling this complex system is knowing exactly what domestic violence is.
California defines domestic violence as actions that either harm or threaten to harm an intimate partner.

It’s important to understand that there are sub-categories of domestic violence which include:

  • Domestic battery (actual physical abuse)
  • Domestic assault (the use of words or actions to threaten physical abuse)

It’s not unusual for domestic violence cases to involve both domestic battery and domestic assault.

Who Can File Domestic Violence Charges

California law is written in such a way that only a limited number of people can file domestic violence charges. At this point, domestic violence charges can only be filed by:

  • Spouses
  • Registered domestic partners
  • Live-in significant others (also considered a cohabitant)
  • Someone who shares a child with the accused
  • Fiancées
  • Someone who has been in a steady romantic relationship with the accused.

California law states that both current and former domestic partners can file domestic violence charges.

Variables in Domestic Violence Offense Charges

Many people are surprised to learn that domestic violence is one of California’s wobbler crimes. That means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. When the prosecutor is looking at the case, they consider many variables when deciding if they want to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

Considerations for the Type of Domestic Violence Offense you will be charged with include:

  • Circumstances surrounding the incident
  • How badly the victim was injured
  • The accused’s criminal past
  • The couple’s history (have there been numerous reports of domestic violence)

If convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault, the accused could spend the next year in county jail. If convicted of felony domestic assault, they could be sentenced to four years in state prison.

The punishment for misdemeanor domestic battery includes a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine.

Domestic violence is one of California’s wobbler crimes. Prosecutors consider many variables when deciding if they want to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

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Laws Every Californian Should Know About

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If you call California home, there are a few laws you should familiarize yourself with to avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.

DUI Threshold Laws

Everyone knows that getting arrested for DUI is a serious, life-altering problem. The problem is that few people know what when they have crossed over the threshold from legally able to drive and become too drunk to drive.

It doesn’t matter if you are the kind of person who gets buzzed after a few sips or someone who really can hold their liquor. If you’re pulled over and your blood alcohol level is 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI.

Data Privacy Laws in California

One of the great things about calling California home is knowing that you have a legal right to know exactly what type of data businesses collect about you and what they’re using it for. The California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect on January 1, 2020.

The California Consumer Privacy Act is written in such a way that you:

  • Can delete personal data a business has collected
  • Block the sale of personal data
  • Have the ability to learn exactly what data is collected/sold/shared/etc.

Comparative Negligence for Injuries

Don’t assume that just because you believe that someone is 99% liable for injuries they sustained during an accident, that they’ll be responsible for the bulk of their medical bills. That’s not quite how the law sees things in California.

California lawmakers created a comparative fault law that basically states that if you are in any way responsible for a person’s injuries, they (or their insurance company) can sue you for a portion of the expenses the individual incurred because of the accident. The good news is that once the court decides how much your actions contributed to the accident, that will be the amount you have to owe.

For example, if a guest comes to your home while they are drunk and trips over a hose that you left stretched across the driveway and breaks their nose, the court might decide that the hose was only 20% of the reason they were injured. The other 80% of the injuries were connected to their intoxication. In this situation, you’d only be responsible for 20% of the medical bills.

Cell Phones and Cars

As a society, we’ve become addicted to our cell phones. They rarely leave our sight. We love how they provide us with a way to constantly be connected to everyone we care about. While no one has taken steps to separate us from our phones, California lawmakers have passed laws that are designed to keep you off your phone while you’re behind the wheel.

If you’re under 18 and driving, you’re not allowed to use your cell phone at all while commuting. Even the hands-free system is off-limits. If you do have to make a call or respond to a text, you’ll have to pull over and deal with the situation while your car is completely stopped.

If you’re over 18, you’re allowed to use the hands-free system of your choice, but you can’t have your phone in your hand. The first time you’re caught holding the phone while driving, you’ll be issued a ticket that will cost at least $76.

The one exception to using a handheld phone while driving is if you’re reporting an emergency to the police or fire department.

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Felony Animal Cruelty in California

By | Bail Bond in Fresno, Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Bail Bonds in Los Angeles, Bail Bonds in Tulare, Bail Bonds In Visalia, Carls Bail Bonds, Los Angeles Bail Bonds

It’s a story that broke the hearts of animal lovers all over Los Angeles. Local newspapers have been covering the story about a kitten who was thrown out in the trash. The fact that the kitten was considered a piece of trash is bad enough, the fact that it was also severely injured makes the story even worse.

The small calico kitten was rescued from the trash in October. When it was examined, a local veterinarian discovered that not only was one of the kitten’s legs currently broken, there was also evidence that the other leg had been fractured and healed badly. Additional injuries included a dislocated hip, bruised lungs, missing teeth, and several bruises and cuts.

Sadly, this kitten’s story isn’t unusual. Every single year, California animal shelters to rescue and care for severely injured animals. What makes this case different is that police believe they’ve found the Lawndale man who is responsible for the kitten ending up in the trash. He’s been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty.

In an interesting twist, the kitten provided the clue needed for the local police to arrest the man believed to be responsible for the kitten’s injuries. The most important lead in the case came from the kitten’s microchip.

While the Lawndale man was arrested, he didn’t stay in jail long before he was released on his own recognizance, meaning he didn’t have to pay any bail. He doesn’t have to appear in court until July 22 for his arraignment. Police records indicate that he’s been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and two misdemeanor counts of failure to properly care for an animal.

California’s Stance On Animal Cruelty

California lawmakers have taken a tough stance on animal cruelty. As a result, California has some of the strictest animal cruelty laws in the country. The issue of animal cruelty is covered in the California Penal Code (PC) 597. It states that anyone who knowingly tries to kill, injury, abandon, neglect, or even overwork an animal can be charged with animal cruelty. It’s important to note, that you don’t have to own the animal to face cruelty charges. The law is written in such a way that even individuals who are caught harming wildlife can be charged with felony animal cruelty.

If convicted of felony animal cruelty, the judge could sentence the Lawndale man to spend three years in prison and charge him a $20,000 fine. In addition, the judge could order the man to also cover the cost of the kitten’s expenses for the time the cat was in foster care and receiving medical attention.

If convicted of a misdemeanor for failure to care for an animal charges, the man could be required to pay a $1,000 fine and serve six months in jail.

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Chat Room Crimes in California

By | Bail Bond in Fresno, Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Bail Bonds in Los Angeles, Bail Bonds in Tulare, Bail Bonds In Visalia, Carls Bail Bonds, Los Angeles Bail Bonds

Chat room crimes are a term that typically refers to specific cases that ultimately deal with the solicitation of a minor. The term first became popular after it was used by the television show, To Catch a Predator.

Chat room crimes typically involve an older person, usually, a male, who uses things like chat rooms and instant messaging to connect with and ultimately lure a minor. In many cases, the minor thinks that they are chatting with someone who is of a similar age to themselves.

Chat room crimes are typically covered by solicitation of a minor laws, which are outlined in California Penal Code (PC) 288.2. The code states that:

    “Every person who knows, should have known, or believes that another person is a minor, and who knowingly distributes, sends, causes to be sent, exhibits, or offers to distribute or exhibit by any means, including by physical delivery, telephone, electronic communication, or in person, any harmful matter that depicts a minor or minors engaging in sexual conduct, to the other person with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or the minor, and with the intent or for the purposes of engaging in sexual intercourse, sodomy, or oral copulation with the other person, or with the intent that either person touches an intimate body part of the other, is guilty.”

Chat room crimes can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. It isn’t entirely clear how the prosecutor decides whether they want to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges. What we do know is that they look at both the type and amount of evidence the police collected and your personal/criminal history before making a decision.

Examples of prosecutable chat room crimes include:

  • Sending messages to a minor that are full of unmistakable sexual content
  • Sending messages to a minor with the intent of meeting with them to engage in either consensual or non-consensual sex
  • Sending videos/pictures with overtly sexual themes to minors

It is important to note that the prosecution is not required to provide proof of any sexual or even physical contact between you and the minor. The chats transcripts, messages, emails, etc. are enough proof to get a conviction.

You can also be convicted if the person you’re chatting with is actually an adult. The only thing that the court is interested in is if you believed they were a minor.

If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor chat room crime in California, the judge can sentence you to:

  • Twelve months in a county jail
  • A $5,000 fine

If you’re convicted of a felony chat room crime in California, you can face:

  • Up to four years in a California state prison
  • A $10,000 fine
  • Registering as a tier one sex offender

The best way to avoid being convicted of a chat room crime in California is to avoid chatting with anyone who could even potentially be a minor.

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You’ve Been Arrested for DUI… Again

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Getting arrested and charged for DUI once in California is terrifying and life-altering. The second time you’re arrested for the same thing is even worse.

Like many states, California lawmakers have decided that to take a hard stance on drunk drivers. One of the ways they’ve done this is by creating laws that make a second (and each additional offense) significantly worse than the first. The reason for this is because while a single DUI could be the result of a bad judgment and an honest mistake, additional arrests indicate that you have a habit of driving while under the influence and a menace to society.

DUIs are addressed in California Vehicle Code Section 23152. The second time you’re convicted of a DUI in California, the result will include losing your ability to drive, fines, mandatory enrollment in substance abuse programs, and jail time.

When you’re convicted of a second DUI in California, you will be required to spend at least 96 hours in the county jail. That’s the minimum amount of jail time connected to a second DUI. The maximum amount of time you can serve is 12 months.

You should expect to pay a higher fine than you did for the first offense. Typically, the fine for a second DUI is between $390 and $1,000, but that might not be all you’ll have to pay. Most courts add penalty assessments to the DUI fine. These assessments can multiply the fine to five times the anticipated amount. In some situations, the judge will allow you to choose to extend the amount of time you serve in jail or do a great deal of community service in exchange for paying the fine.

Since January 1, 2019, a guilty conviction of a second DUI in California requires that the judge order an ignition interlock device be attached to your vehicle. This only happens if the two convictions are less than 10 years apart.

The second DUI means you’ll lose your driving privileges. The good news is that the loss of your license probably won’t be permanent. In California, the current license suspension for a second DUI is a 1-year suspension (administrative per se) or a 2-year suspension if you are convicted.

It’s worth noting that in some situations, the judge will grant you a restricted license. This doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to drive wherever you want. By if you’re able to present a compelling case to the judge, they’ll allow you to drive to work and to manage things like transporting your children. If you’re caught driving to places that aren’t specified in the paperwork connected to your suspended license or you’re driving at a time when you’re not supposed to, the restricted driving privileges will be taken away.

The only way you’ll be granted a restricted license is if you didn’t refuse to take a blood or urine test when you were originally arrested for the second DUI.

In addition to dealing with the actual criminal consequences of a second DUI, if you damaged property or injured/killed someone while driving drunk, it’s likely you’ll also find yourself engaged in a civil case as well.

The best way to avoid all of these consequences is making sure you never get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking or using drugs.