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March 2022


Failure to Present a Valid California Driver’s License

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We’ve all done it at some point or another. We’ve left home without our driver’s license. This isn’t a major deal as long as you are walking or riding around as a passenger. If you’re driving, it has the potential to be a major problem.

In California, you are legally required to have your driver’s license close at hand whenever you’re behind the wheel. It needs to be somewhere that you can easily reach it if a police officer asks for it.

While you may have driven a hundred times without your license in the vehicle, all it takes is getting pulled over once (or worse, being involved in an accident) to discover what happens if you fail to present a valid California driver’s license when it’s asked for.

Some people think that they have the right to refuse to show an officer their driver’s license. That’s not the case. The California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC makes it illegal to fail to present your driver’s license to an officer if they request it while you’ve been driving a vehicle. Police officers are legally able to request your license if they’ve pulled you over in a routine traffic stop, or if you were a driver who was involved in an accident.

When you read through Vehicle Code Section 12951 you’ll learn that, “the licensee shall have the valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway…”

It goes on to state that, “the driver of a motor vehicle shall present his or her license for examination upon demand of a peace officer enforcing the provisions of this code.”

If you express that you’re willing to provide your driver’s license but simply failed to have it on you when you got in your car, the failure to present it will be handled as an infraction. It will cost you money, but at least it won’t lead to you developing a criminal record. In this situation, you should expect to pay a $250 fine.

If you straight up refuse to present your license when the officer asks for it, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and could potentially spend up to six months in jail.

It’s worth noting that if your license is expired, if it has been suspended, or if you were never licensed to drive a vehicle in the first place, you’ll likely face additional charges and infractions.

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Mayhem Laws in California

By | Bail Bonds in Bakersfield, Bail Bonds in Kings County, Bail Bonds in Los Angeles, Bail Bonds in Tulare, Bail Bonds In Visalia, Los Angeles Bail Bonds

Most of us hear the word mayhem and instantly think of those weird auto insurance commercials that feature a character name Mayhem creating strange accidents to show why you need auto insurance.

Anyone who has ever faced mayhem charges in California knows that the state has a very different idea of what mayhem is.

The issue of mayhem is addressed in California’s Penal Code 203 PC. When you read the law, you quickly discover that legally speaking, there’s nothing fun about mayhem.

In California, mayhem is defined as,

    “Every person who unlawfully and maliciously deprives a human being of a member of his body, or disables, disfigures, or renders it useless, or cuts or disables the tongue, or puts out an eye, or slits the nose, ear, or lip, is guilty of mayhem.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that mayhem in California is a felony charge. If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to 2-8 years in state prison and be issued a $10,000 fine.

In addition to straight mayhem, California also has aggravated mayhem which is a violation of Penal Code 205 PC. The law defines aggravated mayhem as,

    “a person is guilty of aggravated mayhem when he or she unlawfully, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well-being of another person, intentionally causes permanent disability or disfigurement of another human being or deprives a human being of a limb, organ, or member of his or her body.”

A guilty conviction of aggravated mayhem can result in a life sentence in prison with the possibility of parole.

Most cases that involve California mayhem charges also have additional, serious charges connected to them.


Castle Doctrine in California

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Your home is the place where you should always feel safe, which is why crimes that include home invasions are so horrible.

Lately, home invasions, the right to protect your home, and something California lawmakers refer to as Castle Doctrine have been getting a great deal of media attention. The reason these topics have been in the news so much is in large part to the number of alleged home invaders who have been killed by the homeowners/legal residents. For example, in July, there were three different incidents of home invasions that took a fatal turn in the Sacramento area.

The right to protect yourself and your home when it’s illegally entered has been a part of California’s legal system since 1872. The law, which is Penal Code 198.5 PC, states:

    “Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.

    As used in this section, great bodily injury means a significant or substantial physical injury.”

While this is referred to as castle doctrine by California’s lawmakers, in other parts of the country it’s referred to as the Stand Your Ground law.

While castle doctrine allows you to protect your home, it doesn’t provide you with grounds to attack anyone who walks through your front door. In order to claim castle doctrine, you must:

  • Show that you had reason to believe that the person was illegally entering our home
  • That the intruder wasn’t a family member who had a reasonable right to enter your home
  • That you had reason to believe that the intruder intended to use force to either injure or kill you or a member of your family

Strictly speaking, the castle doctrine only applies to incidents that take place within the house, however, there are similar laws that protect homeowners who harm or kill a person who is threatening them outside of the house but still on the property, such as in the front yard.

It’s also important to note that the homeowner must have a reason to believe their life is in jeopardy. In 1992, the People v. Brown case made its way to the California Court of Appeals. The case involved a homeowner shooting a handyman who was brandishing a hammer on their front porch. The homeowner tried to claim castle doctrine during the case but the court ruled that castle doctrine didn’t apply since it was reasonable for a non-family member to be standing in an enclosed front porch.

If you do injure or kill someone who broke into your home, contact the police immediately and calmly explain what happened. Don’t touch anything because you don’t want to bother any evidence that will help you prove your case.


Understanding the Difference Between Infractions, Misdemeanors, and Felonies

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The justice system labels crimes as infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. While these different categories of legal offenses have been around for a long time, very few people who aren’t directly connected to law enforcement or criminal lawfully understand how each type of crime is different.’


People who are guilty of an infraction have technically committed a crime, but that crime is generally considered extremely petty. Rather than being arrested and potentially going through a trial, the individual is issued a ticket/citation.

The most common infractions involve driving-related incidents. Examples of such infractions include:

  • Speeding
  • Failing to stop completely at stop signs
  • Using a cell phone while driving
  • Illegal U-turns
  • Etc

Don’t assume that you don’t have many options when you’re handed a ticket that alleges that you’ve committed an infraction. While most people opt to simply pay the fine, you do have the option to appear before a judge and argue your case.

The biggest thing that separates infractions from both misdemeanors and felonies is that the infraction won’t show up as a criminal record… though your car insurance company will be able to find out about it.

It’s also important to note that if you amass too many traffic infractions, you’ll lose your driving privileges.


Anything that California considers a misdemeanor is an illegal act, one that’s considered more serious and a greater threat to society than a simple traffic ticket. If you’re charged with a misdemeanor you have the option of a trial and could be convicted. Whether you plead guilty to the misdemeanor or are convicted by a jury, the misdemeanor will become a part of your criminal record.

While nearly everyone is familiar with the term misdemeanor, few people realize that California actually has two different classes of misdemeanors: standard misdemeanors and aggravated misdemeanors. The biggest difference between the two types of misdemeanors in California is the sentence connected to the crime. The maximum sentence connected to a standard misdemeanor is six months of incarceration and/or a $1,000 fine. The maximum sentence for an aggravated misdemeanor is one year of incarceration and/or a $2,000 fine.


The most serious charges a person faces in California are felonies. These are divided into three different categories:

  • The non-aggravated felony-the maximum sentence for the first conviction is a year of imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine
  • Aggravated Felony-Has a maximum sentence of life in prison and/or a $10,000 fine
  • Enhanced Felony- Has a maximum sentence of life in prison and/or a $10,000 fine

Enhanced felonies differ from aggravated felonies because they involve dangerous gang behavior or part of California’s three strikes and you’re out policy, which means that the third time an individual is charged with the same felony, enhancements are added to the judge’s sentence.

A felony conviction can have a serious impact on your future. It can make it difficult to find employment or housing. Some felonies convictions also make it illegal for you to own any firearms.

Hitting a Pedestrian in California

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California has a reputation as being a great place for pedestrians. The weather makes it possible for pedestrians to walk year-round and the state has done a wonderful job of creating places where pedestrians can stroll without encountering traffic. While pedestrians are invited to enjoy the benefits of walking, it’s important to understand that if you decide to stroll, there’s a chance you could be hit by a car. It’s equally important to understand that the odds of you having a pedestrian-car incident have increased in recent years.

Studies indicate that life for pedestrians is becoming increasingly dangerous. The Governors Highway Safety Association recently gathered data that indicated that the number of pedestrian deaths in the United States increased by 35 percent between 2009 and 2017. According to Triple-A, things are getting worse. The organization reported that from 2010 to 2019 pedestrian deaths increased by 46%.

It doesn’t appear that there is one particular reason pedestrian deaths have risen so much. Some feel that the fact that drivers are getting older could play a role. Another issue is the fact that drivers continue to ignore warnings about using cell phones while driving. It’s worth noting that not all pedestrian/car incidents that involve phones aren’t because the driver was using their phone. In 2010, an estimated 78,000 pedestrian injuries were the direct result of the pedestrian using their phone and not paying attention to their surroundings.

If you drive in California, you have a responsibility to look out for pedestrians. It’s an aspect of being a good defensive driver. Since California has a reputation for being such a great pedestrian state, you must assume that you’ll see a few people walking whenever you drive.

When you do see people walking, automatically check how you’re driving. The last thing you need is to be accused of reckless driving that resulted in you striking a pedestrian. It doesn’t matter if you fail to yield, are speeding, or are distracted, if you strike a pedestrian with your vehicle and there’s proof that you’re at fault, you could face steep fines, jail time, and civil lawsuits.

When you see a pedestrian walking, particularly if they are using their phone, give them as wide a berth as possible. Don’t automatically assume that they will stop at crosswalks, pay attention to no crossing signs, or that they won’t suddenly veer off the sidewalk.


Smash n Grab Robberies

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A type of robbery that has been dubbed smash n grab has started to plaque the United States, but it has become especially common in California.

In November 2021 witnesses became alarmed when they noticed a large group of about 40 to 50 people swarm into a Bay Area mall. Members of the mob were armed with a variety of tools, including hammers which they used to break cases and threaten bystanders and mall employees. This was not an isolated incident.

Also in November, a San Francisco shopping center was hit by about 80 smash n grab robbers who swarmed into the plaza, quickly destroyed the interior, and took whatever merchandise caught their eye.

The alarming thing about the wave of smash n grab robberies that’s been plaguing California is how difficult it’s been for the police to do anything about the crimes. It’s not that local law enforcement agencies don’t want to put a stop to the smash n grab robberies, it’s just that they are overwhelmed. According to CNN, police statistics, there has been an alarming increase in crime rates since the start of 2020. In San Francisco, cases involving larceny and theft have increased by a staggering 88% while the overall crime rate has risen 52%. Local law enforcement agencies simply don’t have the resources available to handle the surge in criminal activity.

The big problem with the current string of smash n grab robberies is that they happen fast. It’s amazing how quickly a large group of people can swarm into a building, completely loot it, and disappear. They are usually able to accomplish their mission before the police have an opportunity to arrive on the scene. The sheer number of people involved in the robberies makes it dangerous for both bystanders and the police to interfere.

While the smash n grab robberies are a problem for the police, it’s important to note that not everyone walks away from the scene. When a Nordstrom was hit by a group of smash n dash robbers, the police were able to apprehend 14 suspects. It’s possible that as time passes and the suspects arrange plea deals they will implicate more people which will lead to additional arrests.

Anyone who is considering becoming involved in a smash n grab robbery should note that if they are caught, they could face some extremely serious charges which include armed robbery, intimidation, and possibly even organizing a robbery.


Eavesdropping in California

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Eavesdropping is something we’ve all done at some point in our lives. Normally, it involves staying quiet and remaining shrouded in mystery while we listen to someone discuss either ourselves or someone we know. In most cases, eavesdropping is fairly harmless, however, there are some circumstances where your eavesdropping could result in you facing criminal charges.

The challenge with eavesdropping in California is that the state is a “two-party consent” state. That means that California lawmakers feel that when it comes to having confidential communications in a space where the people involved in the conversation have a reasonable expectation of privacy, eavesdropping is prohibited, particularly if the eavesdropper hopes to gain something from the information they learn while spying on the conversation.

The topic of eavesdropping in California is dealt with in California Penal Code 632 PC. It’s important to note that while this law does discuss eavesdropping, it does clarify that in legal cases, the eavesdropper had to have done more than simply overhear a private conversation. They must have made a concentrated effort to eavesdrop. Examples of this would be using a recording device or amplifier to catch all elements of the conversation.

The California law specifically states that,

    “a person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, uses an electronic amplifying or recording device to eavesdrop upon or record the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished.”

Shouse law provided examples of what California lawmakers consider illegal eavesdropping.

These samples include:

  • “recording an employer’s conversations when they’re speaking to other employees.
  • recording the conversation of a hotel guest while you are in the hallway/another room/beneath their hotel window.
  • using a laptop in an intimate restaurant to record the conversation between two patrons”

Eavesdropping in California is one of the state’s wobbler offenses which means the circumstances surrounding the case determine if you’re charged with felony or misdemeanor eavesdropping. The two main things the prosecutor considers when trying to determine if they want to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony are the details of the case and your criminal history, particularly if your history shows that you have a habit of eavesdropping.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor eavesdropping, the maximum sentence is a $2,500 fine and/or one year in a county jail.

In felony cases, the maximum sentence is a $2,500 fine and/or up to three years in a California state prison.

Once you have successfully completed your sentence, you can apply to have the eavesdropping conviction expunged from your record.

It’s not unusual for additional charges, including blackmail and extortion to be attached to eavesdropping charges.


After Hours Alcohol Sales in California

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Businesses that have gone through the effort of applying for a California liquor license and who are approved agree to only sell alcohol during the permitted hours. The good news is that there aren’t many times when you’re not allowed to sell alcohol to customers. At this point, the only times California prohibits the sale of alcoholic products are from 2 o’clock a.m. and 6 o’clock a.m.

The idea that you can’t sell or buy alcohol at certain times of the day seems weird to many people, particularly since as long as you’ve already purchased the alcohol, you’re free to drink it in the comfort of your own home.

The reason businesses aren’t allowed to sell alcohol from 2 o’clock a.m. and 6 o’clock a.m. isn’t entirely clear. The issue likely stems from concerns over drunk driving. The idea being that if people know that they can’t purchase additional alcohol, they are far less likely to get behind the wheel while intoxicated after running out when they know there isn’t any chance they can get more.

While the reason California businesses aren’t allowed to sell alcohol from 2 o’clock a.m. and 6 o’clock a.m. isn’t clear, the consequences connected to selling the alcohol after hours are. Business owners who wonder what will happen if they sell alcohol after house can learn everything by reading Business and Professions Code 25631 BPC.

The consequences of selling alcohol after hours aren’t quite as severe as selling to a minor, but they will still have a disastrous impact on the business. The legal consequences of selling between the hours of 2 o’clock a.m. and 6 o’clock a.m. include potentially being sentenced to as much as six months in a county jail and/or be fined up to $1,000.

Likely, the business owner’s headache won’t end in criminal court. Selling after hours will prompt the state to explore the business owner’s history and could result in them revoking the liquor license.

It should be noted that some business owners who were charged with selling after hours were able to successfully fight the charge by proving that while the alcohol was consumed (often on the premises) during the time the sale of alcohol was prohibited, it was actually purchased during legal hours. The best way to prove this is with security camera footage and accurate receipts.

It is in every business owner’s best interest to make sure all of their employees fully understand how important it is to avoid selling alcohol from 2 o’clock a.m. and 6 o’clock a.m.