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Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020


Some of us thought the pandemic would be over by Thanksgiving. Some of us assumed that the pandemic wouldn’t have a major impact on our holiday plans. The truth is that the past few weeks have revealed that not only is the pandemic still here, but it’s also gotten worse. This has many of us wondering how we should handle Thanksgiving.

Traveling on the West Coast

On October 13, the three west coast states released a press release that outlined their guidelines for traveling during the holiday season. It wasn’t the news many of us wanted to hear. The joint press release the three west coast states issued urged limiting travel to, “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services, and supply chains, health, immediate medical care and safety, and security.”

The good news is that California hasn’t followed in Connecticut’s footsteps and issued a mandated quarantine for individuals who are traveling from high-risk states, but the state is advising that people stay home as much as possible this Thanksgiving. At this point, the state is simply advising that anyone coming to California quarantine themselves for fourteen days. At this point it’s merely a suggestion, if positive tests continue to rise, it’s possible the state will create a mandatory quarantine.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020

Many of us aren’t worried about out-of-state travel restrictions, because a large majority of us opt to spend the holiday with local friends and family. However, on October 9, the California Department of Health issued a list of requirements that, if followed, they hoped would prevent the infection rate from soaring after the Thanksgiving holiday.

These mandatory requirements included:

  • Keeping attendance to under 3 households
  • Limiting Thanksgiving gatherings to people you cohabitate with or who you routinely physically interact with
  • Collecting contact information and names of everyone who attends the Thanksgiving gathering
  • Having the gathering outdoors whenever possible
  • Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms is required to avoid Thanksgiving gatherings
  • If a person develops symptoms within 48 hours of attending a Thanksgiving gathering must notify everyone who was also in attendance
  • Social distancing requirements should be observed during the Thanksgiving gathering
  • Hand sanitizer and handwashing stations should be readily available
  • Unless eating or drinking, a mask should be worn during the gathering
  • Gatherings should not last longer than 2 hours
  • Outdoor singing/chanting/dancing is strongly discouraged, but playing an instrument outdoors is allowed

The best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe is by using common sense and limiting the number of people you come into contact with over the upcoming holidays.

How To React To Cyberbully


Bullying has always been a massive problem, but in many cases, once you made it to your home, you got a respite from your bully. The internet changed that. A cyberbully has access to you 24/7.

If you’ve attracted the attention of a cyberbully, there are a few things you should do.

Ignore the Bully

Ignoring a bully is easier said than done, but in this case, it’s imperative. The cyberbully’s goal is getting a reaction from you. Failing to respond to their snide comments on social media usually causes them to give up on you and they direct their time and attention elsewhere.

In addition to ignoring the cyberbully, you need to remain calm about the situation. Do not do anything reckless.

Talk to Someone About the Issue

It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager or an adult, as a cyberbullying victim, you need to reach out to a trusted source and alert them to what is happening. You’ll be amazed by the amount of relief your experience once you know you’re not dealing with the problem on your own and that someone is standing in your corner.

Keep a Record of the Interactions

While you don’t want to engage with a cyberbully, you do want to keep a record of their behavior. A file of screenshots could help the authorities identify your cyberbully’s identity and also makes it easier to build a case against them.

Report the Cyberbullying

It’s difficult to know exactly when you should go to the police and report your struggles with a cyberbully. If you feel that the person is a threat to your health or if they appear to have way too much information about you which implies they know your work/home location, it’s in your best interest to report the matter to the police. Based on the information you supply, the police will determine if they should launch an investigation.

Don’t assume that because the police told you they didn’t have enough evidence to investigate the situation, that you’re out of options. If the problem persists, you can always return to the police over and over again until they are ready to take action.

California’s Stay at Home Curfew


There isn’t a single person whose life hasn’t been disrupted by the pandemic. We’re required to wear masks, we pay for massive amounts of hand sanitizer, we keep an eagle eye on our cleaning supplies and stock up as soon as we think they’re getting even a little low. Now, the governor has issued a curfew.

The newest restrictions include a curfew that prevents anyone from leaving their home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. There are some exceptions. Essential workers who are traveling to or from work are allowed on the road. You can leave your home if there’s an emergency. It also appears that you can walk your dog between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The curfew was issued in direct response to the fact that the state hit the unwanted milestone of 1 million positive cases of COVID-19 in the state. This number is expected to continue rising at an alarming rate. In a single day, Ventura County reported that they had 365 brand new infected cases.

The entire state isn’t impacted by this curfew. At this point, only the counties that are listed in the state’s purple tier are required to follow the curfew. Today, 94% of California’s counties are purple.

The main reason for the curfew is to discourage people from mingling in the type of settings that encourages the spread of COVID-19. The idea is to put a stop to late-night bar-hopping, indoor parties, and clubbing. Many feel that these types of events, during which many people don’t wear masks or adhere to social distancing guidelines, is causing cases to skyrocket.

The hope is that by limiting the spread of the virus, the disease won’t overwhelm local medical resources. The governor also hopes that the curfew will also slow the spread enough that the state doesn’t have to go into a full lockdown.

Are you wondering what happens if you break curfew? You’re not alone. One of the biggest headaches associated with many of the governor’s new orders is that no one knows how the rules will be enforced.

Even the police departments don’t appear to know how to respond to the governor’s orders. Several departments have said they won’t take steps to enforce the governor’s stay-at-home orders.

If enough people ignore the curfew and the number of positive cases continues increasing, it’s possible that lawmakers may consider issuing fines and even arresting people who fail to follow COVID-19 related laws.

Robbery in California


In California, it’s possible to be charged with three different types of robbery. They’re:

  • First-degree robbery
  • Second-degree robbery
  • Third-degree robbery

What is First-Degree Robbery

California lawmakers discussed robbery in the first degree in the California Penal Code 211. This is a felony charge that is filed against you when the police uncover evidence that you’ve committed, “the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.”

A guilty conviction is a felony. You can be sentenced to three to six years in state prison. You’ll also have to go through a felony probation period and could be hit with a $10,000 fine.

What is Second Degree Robbery

A second-degree robbery charge indicates that you had the assistance of an accomplice while you committed the murder. You can also face a second-degree robbery charge if someone was injured during the robbery.

California lawmakers decided that if you were armed while committing second-degree murder, you can face a two to a five-year prison sentence. It’s worth noting that second-degree robbery is covered by California’s three-strikes law, meaning that the third time you are convicted of the offense, the charge will include 25 years to a life sentence in state prison.

Third Degree Robbery in California

In California, a third-degree murder charge occurs when a weapon, such as a gun or a knife, is used during the robbery. It is commonly referred to as armed robbery. This is a felony. A guilty conviction includes ten years in state prison.

In addition to the robbery charges, if you discharged a weapon or injured someone during the robbery, the prosecution will likely file additional charges against you. If found guilty of the additional charges, you’ll likely face additional, consecutive prison time plus have to pay additional fines.

Getting charged with robbery in California isn’t a laughing matter. A single guilty conviction can destroy your future. The best way to avoid a robbery charge is to decide against committing a robbery. If you have been charged with a robbery that you didn’t do, you’ll need a good defense attorney. You’ll also want to get released on bail so you can set about proving your innocence.

What Happens When you Bounce a Check in California


We all make mistakes. One of the mistakes that many of us have made at one time or another is not checking our account before writing a check. As a result, the check bounces and you face a series of problems.

The good news is that in most cases, the consequences of writing a bad check aren’t horrible. The person/business you wrote the check to contacts you. You’re embarrassed but cover the amount of the check plus whatever fee the business attaches to the returned check. There’s also a chance that your bank will charge you an overdraft fee. Once you’ve covered all of these costs, you can stop worrying about the matter and get on with your life.

In some extreme cases, the legal system gets involved.

Check fraud is covered by California’s Penal Code 476 PC. According to the law, you can be charged with check fraud whenever you do something with a check that leads the person who is receiving the check that they believe is good.

You can be charged with check fraud if you:

  • Write a check even when you know there aren’t sufficient funds in your account
  • Create checks for an account that doesn’t exist
  • Alter the routing or account number on a check
  • Writing checks for an account you don’t own
  • Altering the amount written on a check

Drunk Driving in California During the Thanksgiving Holiday


There are certain days when the police become extremely concerned about drunk drivers. Thanksgiving is one such holiday. If you’re on the road during Thanksgiving weekend, don’t be surprised if you see more police patrolling the streets than what you would normally expect.

Why Police are Concerned about Drunk Driving in California During Thanksgiving

California patrol officers have plenty of good reasons to be out and about during Thanksgiving weekend. The main reason they’re going to be patrolling for drunk drivers is that history indicates that it’s a holiday when many drivers fail to hand over their keys after having one too many.

Statistics indicate that there is something about the long Thanksgiving weekend that encourages drivers to cut loose and drink more than they should, especially the night before Thanksgiving Day. According to data collected by Scram Systems, during a 5-year span, there have been about 800 drunk driving-related car accidents that took place on the night before Thanksgiving. One reason for the high number of accidents is because many people choose that night to hit the bars. Another reason is that there are more cars on the road. A higher number of drunk drivers combined with more people driving results in some nasty accidents.

Looking at the numbers it makes sense that additional police are assigned to patrol the streets the night before Thanksgiving.

Be Prepared to be Pulled Over on Thanksgiving

It’s unlikely that the police will be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt during the Thanksgiving holiday. If they see anything, such as briefly swerving in your lane or taking a turn too fast, that makes them even suspect you might be driving while under the influence, they will pull you over.

How to Avoid Spending Thanksgiving in Jail

If you’re arrested for drunk driving the night before Thanksgiving, you will likely spend the bulk of the holiday behind bars. Not only will the police refuse to release you until you’ve sobered up, finding the money to post your bail will be difficult.

Avoiding Thanksgiving Drunk Driving Charges

The best way to avoid spending the holiday in a jail cell is to plan ahead before going out.

If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a plan that allows you to get home without actually getting behind the wheel. This plan could include having a friend drive you, taking a cab, or hiring an Uber driver.

If you do go out and drink more than you should, call someone for a ride. Don’t assume that you’re okay to drive home.

Don’t assume that you can wait in your car until you sober up. If a police officer sees you get into your car while you’re drunk, they can still arrest you for “intending to drive while drunk.” They can charge you with this even if you don’t move your car.

The best way to enjoy Thanksgiving is by using good judgment, monitoring the amount of alcohol you consume, and committing to keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Legal Ins and Outs of Internet Trolling


The internet, particularly social media sites, provide people with an opportunity to share their opinions on a variety of topics. In many cases, this leads to a lively and thought-provoking debate. At other times, it brings out internet trolls.

What is Internet Trolling

An internet troll is someone who jumps into an online conversation and promptly starts making inflammatory, derogative, and infuriating comments. In most cases, the individual doesn’t want to contribute to the conversation, but simply wants to trigger an emotional response. Sometimes the troll focuses their attention on a particular subject matter. Other times, the troll focuses on a single individual or group. Today, internet trolling is considered malicious and a form of bullying.

Signs that a commenter is an internet troll include:

  • They make remarks that have nothing to do with the original topic
  • They’re unable to handle actual facts (they’ll either ignore them or cry fake news)
  • They have a belligerent tone and make condescending, dismissive remarks
  • They make the same comment, over and over again, on multiple posts

Internet trolling isn’t limited to a handful of people. A recent survey revealed that 28% of Americans have perpetrated an internet trolling incident.

How California Views Internet Trolling

From a legal standpoint, internet trolling is complicated. As a rule, behaving like a jerk and irritating people with online comments isn’t a crime. The problem lawmakers face is that on several occasions, internet trolls have crossed a line and become internet bullies. As soon as the line is crossed, the issue becomes a legal matter.

An internet troll will find themselves in hot legal water when they:

  • Start posting harmful material along with their comments.
  • They actively encourage others to join in the harassment of the original poster/group
  • They violate California’s cyberstalking laws
  • Instead of just making comments, they move on to sending harassing comments to the original poster via text messages, emails, or phone calls.

They start making criminal threats

Many internet trolls believe that the First Amendment allows them to say whatever they want. While it’s true that the First Amendment does grant everyone the right to free speech, it’s important to understand that there are limitations to free speech.

Several First Amendment cases have reached the U.S. Supreme Court where the legal groundwork was laid to allow individuals who make obscene and deliberately false statements to be prosecuted by the law. The same is true for comments that are designed to trigger a severely violent or emotional response. While cases that are directly connected to cyberbullying and internet trolling haven’t yet reached the U.S. Supreme Court, many feel it is only a matter of time before the justices hear a case that helps set a legal standard for cyberbullying and trolling.

Cults and the Law


Every so often a community will start to whisper about the possibility of a cult forming in the neighborhood. Generally, as soon as the rumor of a cult starts, people start worrying about what drastic action the cult will take and how the community can stop them.

What are Cults

Many people mistakenly believe that cults are nothing more than a group of people who don’t adhere to accepted societal rules. That’s not what a cult is. There are specific requirements that must be met before a group is classified as a cult.

The literal definition of a cult is, “1) a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious. 2) a group that expresses great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work 3) a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion 4) a system of religious beliefs and ritual.

Why People Fear Cults

People fear cults. The main reason so many people fear cults is because they know some cults encourage dangerous behavior. In the case of The People’s Temple and Heaven’s Gate, cult members were encouraged to participate in group suicides. These are extreme examples. There are reports of other cults that didn’t believe in mass suicide, though they did encourage questionable behavior such as practicing risky medical procedures, demanding that members practice extreme and sometimes dangerous lifestyle changes.

Most people fear cults because they’re worried that the group’s leaders practice both strong-arm and brainwashing techniques on the members.

Cults and the Law

Surprisingly, there aren’t many laws that pertain to either the creation or the joining of cults. There is a simple reason for this. Most cults have a religious origin and stepping in to disband one without just cause would be a violation of religious freedom.

The only time legal action can be taken against a cult is when the authorities have clear proof that the leaders or members are involved in dangerous or illegal behavior. If the authorities have evidence that the alleged cult is doing something illegal, they can consider the group a criminal organization and explore taking legal action against the group.

The list of behaviors that have justified bringing charges against cult leaders include:

If a loved one has become involved in an organization that you believe is a cult, legally speaking there might not be much you can do to remove them from the situation. That doesn’t mean you should give up on them. Support your loved one. Keep a record of everything they tell you, and let the authorities know if you suspect that your loved one or the organization is involved in illegal activity.

Drunk Driving on Halloween


It’s no secret that getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking is a bad idea, yet there are a few nights of the year where drivers leave their common sense at home and drive home after having one too many. Halloween is such a night.

Why People Drink on Halloween

Halloween is a festive holiday. A time when lots of people like to cut loose and relax. There are usually lots of parties where the alcohol generally flows. The happy atmosphere combined with the anonymity of wearing a costume makes it easy to cut loose and lose track of how much you’ve had to drink.

The Dangers of Drinking and Driving on Halloween

There’s never a safe time to drive after drinking, but it’s particularly dangerous on Halloween. The lure of free candy means that the streets are full of very young children. Many of these children aren’t paying attention to anything but getting to the next house as quickly as possible. They don’t look before they cross streets or rush around blind alleys. Sober driver’s often struggle to stay alert when driving through popular trick-or-treating areas. With alcohol dulling your reflexes the odds of you getting into a drunk driving accident on Halloween increase.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Halloween is one of the holidays when police officers are out in force and they are going to be extra alert. The slightest sign that you’re driving while impaired on Halloween and they will pull you over.

The Consequences of Drunk Driving on Halloween

The legal blood alcohol count (BAC) for the average adult driver in California is 0.08%. If it’s any higher, the police will file drunk driving charges against you. Even if you’re BAC is slightly lower than 0.08% when you’re pulled over, there is still a good chance that they’ll arrest you so that they can conduct a second test once the last drink you enjoyed hits your system.

Getting found guilty of DUI on Halloween will have a serious and negative impact on the quality of your life.

  • First offense – $390-$1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, your license can be suspended for up to 6 months
  • Second offense – $390-$1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, your license can be suspended for 2 full years. The court can order your ignition locked for a full year.
  • Third offense – up to $1,800 in fines, minimum 120 days maximum 12 months in jail, your license can be suspended for 3 years and your ignition can be locked for 2 years.

If you’re planning on drinking this Halloween, it’s in your best interest to arrange for a cab, Uber driver, or have a friend serve as your DD. The last thing you need is to end the holiday with a drunk driving conviction.

Tips for Protecting Yourself From Fake News


The term fake news has been used a lot over the past four years. The good news is that hearing the term so often has made people stop and think about how much we take news stories for granted. Today, more than ever, we have come to understand that even the most trusted news sources have an agenda and that they understand how to work an angle.

You’ll be happy to know that there are some things you can do to protect yourself from fake news.

Don’t Rely on a Single Source

The more versions of a news story you read/watch/listen to, the more similarities you’ll pick out. These little commonalities are the kernels of truth. Pay attention to them and you’ll eventually get to the real story.

Check the Sources

The best way to protect yourself from fake news is by paying careful attention to the sources provided. This doesn’t mean looking at which new anchor is presenting a story (though that’s also a good idea) but looking at how that new anchor got the story. Did it come from someone who was in the middle of a situation, or was it from a second, third, or fourth source?

Double Check Quotes

Many people mistakenly think that just because a news story includes quotes, that the story must be relevant. Taking quotes out of context or only sharing a portion of what the person said can completely alter the tone of a news story. If a quote feels off or seems manipulative, it’s a good idea to find the entire interview and read the quote for yourself. You’ll be surprised how often seeing the comments in their entirety completely changes the news story.

Do Your Own Research

Don’t take any news story at face value. Learning how to do your research is one of the best ways to protect yourself from fake news. Research doesn’t mean turning to your social media accounts. Most of what you see on social media isn’t news, but rather people’s responses to fake news. Try to find out the origins of the story, who was responsible for publishing it, and check to see which people are involved. The more time you dedicate to researching a news story, the greater the odds are that you’ll eventually find the truth.

The great thing about learning how to protect yourself from fake news is that it doesn’t take long before you start to recognize the early signs, such as click-bait headlines and strangely chopped interviews, of fake news.