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Attending School During the Pandemic

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Never before have so many parents been confused about how their child’s education will take place during the upcoming school year. Concern about COVID-19 spreading through the schools has caused a great deal of confusion regarding how education will work during the 2020/2021 school year.

The Governor’s Thoughts About School This Year

One of the things making this school year so difficult is that California’s lawmakers seem to second guess themselves every single day. One day the governor announces that schools won’t open and all schooling will be done virtually. A few weeks later, an elementary school opens its doors and starts welcoming students.

The problem this poses for parents is figuring out how they’ll help their child get the education they need this year. Many aren’t even sure if the government has a plan in place to make sure that no child is left behind this school year.

The best thing parents can do is pay attention to any formal information their child’s school is passing on. As of right now, the governor has decreed that most of the schools will be going exclusively to virtual learning. There are some exceptions. Some schools have been issued waivers that allow them to open, provided they have measures in place to keep kids healthy this school year. Safety measures the schools who have received waivers are taking include:

Decoding the Difference Between a Domestic Violence Restraining Order and a Civil Harassment Restraining Order

decoding-the-difference-between-a-domestic-violence-restraining-order-and-a-civil-harassment-restraining-order

Feeling threatened and worrying about your physical/mental safety is an incredibly frightening and stressful situation. The one bright spot is that California’s lawmakers fully understand just how much danger you are in. Laws and protective orders are in place, each one is designed to keep you safe.

When you go to the police because you’re afraid of someone it’s important to understand that there is a difference between civil harassment and domestic violence.

Contrary to popular belief, in the eyes of the law, domestic violence is not a subcategory crime that’s connected to civil harassment.

The Difference Between Domestic Violence and Civil Harassment

The biggest difference between a domestic violence case and a civil harassment case is your relationship with the person you’re filing the restraining order against. If the person you’re afraid of is someone you have a relationship with, the case is a domestic violence case. The law considers a relationship close if the restraining order is filed against a parent, sibling, child, grandparent, lover, spouse. The idea of the domestic violence restraining order is that the close relationship you’ve shared with the person increases the amount of danger you’re in.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with the person you’re naming in the restraining order, you’re dealing with a civil harassment situation. In many cases, the other party mentioned in the restraining order is a co-worker, neighbor, friend of a friend, social media follower, or a member of a political/social party who has taken a personal and nasty dislike to your lifestyle/actions/viewpoints.

Getting a Restraining Order

It is far easier to request and obtain a domestic violence restraining order than it is a civil harassment restraining order. Police, prosecutors, and judges understand just how quickly domestic situations can turn deadly and are quick to issue a restraining order against one of your loved ones.

When you petition the court for a domestic violence restraining order, you need evidence of abuse (medical records, witness statements, written threats, police reports.)

Getting a civil harassment restraining order is much more complicated. The biggest challenge is establishing that the harassment has reached a point where you feel threatened. The court won’t accept that the person you want to be named in the restraining order is simply verbally harassing you. You’re going to have to submit some sort of proof that they are having a detrimental impact on your life. Getting this proof isn’t always easy. In the case of a civil harassment restraining order, you’ll likely need video, phone, witness, or written evidence. Strong witness statements, particularly by people who aren’t closely connected to you, will also help you obtain the civil harassment lawsuit.

The most important thing to remember when appealing for either domestic violence or civil harassment restraining order is that you must have proof that you are worried about your safety. The more evidence you have, the quicker the court will grant your request.

Transporting Marijuana in California

transporting-marijuana-in-california

Transporting Marijuana in California

Nearly four years ago, Californians voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state. That law went into effect in 2018 and as such, there is still some confusion about what is and isn’t legal when it comes to marijuana in the state of California. People are still unsure about what can and cannot get them into trouble when it comes to the drug.

While the drug is legalized for recreational use, it is heavily regulated. If a person doesn’t follow the rules and laws, then they can find themselves in some serious trouble even though they thought they were doing something legal. A big thing that people need to worry about when dealing with marijuana is transporting it.

Transporting and DUI

A big issue with transporting marijuana is the potential for DUI. A person is guilty of DUI if they drive a motor vehicle with drugs or alcohol in their system. This does include driving while high on marijuana.

As such, legal marijuana is subject to the same types of laws as alcohol. This means a driver cannot have an open container of marijuana in their vehicle. Marijuana also needs to be transported in the storage compartment of the vehicle, just like alcohol. Basically, if a person couldn’t expect to do something with alcohol in a vehicle, then they can’t do it with marijuana either. A person caught driving high will face standard DUI charges.

Marijuana Possession and Transport Laws

When it comes to transporting the drug or someone keeping it on their person, they need to be careful. A person is only allowed to have so much marijuana in their possession at a time. If they have more than that legal amount, then they could face simple possession charges.

As far as California law is concerned, a person over the age of 21 can only have up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or up to 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, on them at a time. A person having any more than that in their possession at one time is illegal here in California. Having possession of the substance doesn’t just include the person holding the item. It can also include:

  • Being in a person’s home
  • Being in a person’s car

Is Blackmailing Illegal in California?

is-blackmailing-illegal-in-california

Is Blackmailing Illegal in California?

Blackmailing is never fun, especially when you are at the receiving end of it. The trope of someone finding some secret of another person and then using it to get the victim to do whatever they say shows up a lot in fiction. Unfortunately, it is present in the real world too.

Luckily, the act of blackmailing an individual is illegal here in California. Anyone who is caught blackmailing another individual to get what they want will face legal charges. For committing the act, a person will face harsh consequences.

What Is Extortion

The act of extortion, more commonly known as blackmail, is defined under Penal Code (PC) 518 as using force or threat to compel another individual to give money or property or to compel a public official to perform an official act. Some examples of extortion can include, but are not limited to:

  • Threatening to release compromising images of another individual unless they agree to pay a certain amount of money.
  • Threatening to harm a person’s loved ones unless they give them a certain item.
  • Threatening to expose a public official’s affair unless they support a certain project.
  • A public official threatening to permit a certain project unless a person pays them off.

Wrongfully Parking in a Handicapped Spot

wrongfully-parking-in-a-handicapped-spot

Wrongfully Parking in a Handicapped Spot

Having a disability can make tasks that most people take for granted difficult to complete. To make things easier for people with disabilities, several laws and practices have been adopted here in California, and the rest of the nation at large. This includes things such as automatic doors, ramps instead of steps, and even specialized parking spots.

Disabled, or handicap, parking spots can be found in most parking lots. These spaces are often located close to the building or near an elevator. This is meant to help provide a person with a disability better access to their intended destination.

Since these spots are located in such desirable locations, or can regularly be found empty, some people decide to use them even though they are not disabled themselves. They don’t see it as a big deal, which is why they are often surprised by the consequences of wrongfully parking in a handicap spot.

Disabled Parking Spots

Disabled parking spots are easy to spot thanks to their blue paint and the symbol of a person in a wheelchair. In parking lots, the spaces will also have a section beside them that is marked off by diagonal white lines. These spots are not for parking but are intended to provide room for the disabled person to get in and out of their car.

Other places where vehicles with disabled passengers can park include:

  • Along blue curbs
  • Street-metered spaces free of charge
  • On public streets where parking is typically reserved for residents and business customers
  • Along green curbs without a time limit

What Is Price Gouging?

what-is-price-gouging

What Is Price Gouging?

Anyone who knows about economics and the concept supply and demand knows that as demand goes up and supply struggles to keep up, prices can rise too. The more people want something, and the less of it there is, the more expensive that item becomes. This is something that a lot of people are experiencing as shortages of basic goods abound thanks to the panic caused by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

As people struggle to get basic necessities, some people are taking advantage of the shortage to make a quick buck. For instance, the prices of hand sanitizer and facemasks shot up by roughly 500% on eBay. Similar practices can be found pretty much everywhere due to the virus, and while some people may think it is okay, raising prices like this during an emergency is pretty frowned upon by most people.

Is It Legal?

Here in the state of California, the act of price gouging is made illegal under the Penal Code (PC) 396. Under this law, it is illegal for someone to unjustifiably raise the prices of basic goods and services by excessive amounts during a state of emergency. As far as the law is concerned, an excessive amount is 10% or more of a price increase during an emergency compared to the prices before the emergency was declared. The items that are protected from price gouging are mostly basic household items that families regularly need.

Some of the items that are specifically listed under the law include:

  • Food and drink.
  • Pet food.
  • Toiletries.
  • Emergency supplies.
  • Diapers.
  • Batteries.
  • Radios.
  • Medical supplies.
  • Construction materials.
  • Oils and gasoline.

Services that could be essential to recovering from a disaster are also protected from price gouging.

Some of these services include:

  • Transportation.
  • Storage.
  • Towing.
  • Building repairs.
  • Hotel rates
  • .

Prices of these goods and services can legally be raised slightly to reflect shortages or an increase in the cost of labor during the emergency. In these instances, the seller or service provider will have to prove that the increased prices were necessary.

The Consequences of Price Gouging

PC 396 makes the act of price gouging a misdemeanor offense. Any seller or service provider who is caught price gouging their customers will face misdemeanor charges.

The penalties for this crime are:

  • Up to 1 year in jail.
  • A max fine of $10,000.

How to Deal with Price Gouging?

Price gouging is monitored and enforced by the California Attorney General and local district attorneys. If a person suspects that they are dealing with price gouging, then they should report the incident to their local district attorney’s office or go to the California Attorney General’s website where there is a form that can be filled out online.

During a state of emergency, such as a global pandemic, no one should have to deal with increased prices on necessary goods and services just so one bad person can make a quick buck. This is why price gouging is a crime here in the state of California.

What are your thoughts on price gouging and California’s law against it? Is it a good idea to protect people during times of emergency? Is the punishment for the crime appropriate? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

What Counts as Looting in California?

what-counts-as-looting

What Counts as Looting in California?

Whenever an emergency strikes, people are bound to panic. This is only natural as systems that people have been able to rely on for their day to day lives begin to shut down. This is exactly what is happening as the COVID-19, Coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world. In response to this virus, many non-essential systems have been shut down to reduce the spread of the disease.

Combine this with the fact that thousands, if not millions, of people have been panic stockpiling all kinds of resources, making it harder for everyone to get even the essentials, a lot of people are scared. For most people, this just means staying at home and avoiding going into public, which is what everyone should be doing anyway.

Unfortunately, there are people out there that see the deserted shopping centers and decide to use that to their advantage. These people figure that if no one is around to stop them, they can do whatever they want without fear of repercussion. However, that is not the case. Law enforcement agencies are still operating and enforcing the law.
If they catch anyone looting, there will be consequences.

California’s Different Looting Laws

California state law defines the act of looting as someone committing second-degree burglary within a county or area that is currently experiencing a state of emergency due to natural or man-made disasters. This definition does include the national emergency called in response to the Corona Virus.

The following laws can all be considered looting under California law:

  • Penal Code (PC) 459 Burglary
  • PC 484 Petty Theft
  • PC 487 Grand Theft

Burglary is defined as the act of entering a house or any other building with the intent of committing larceny. In other words, burglary is the act of going into a building to steal something. First-degree burglary occurs when a person enters a residential building. Second-degree burglary occurs when a person enters a commercial building.
Petty theft is defined as wrongfully taking someone else’s property that is valued at less than $950. Grand theft is the same, except the value of the items exceeds $950.

The difference between burglary and theft is that burglary is entering a place with the intent to steal something. Theft is the actual act of stealing something. This means that a person may not be charged with theft if they try and fail to steal something, but they could still be charged with burglary for attempting to do so.

The Penalties of Looting

The penalties for looting are dependent on what particular crime the person committed. When it comes to burglary or grand theft, a person can either be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case.

Looting by burglary and looting grand theft have the same consequences. When the crimes are charged as misdemeanors, they come with:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Misdemeanor probation.
  • Up to 240 hours of community service.

As a felonies, the crimes comes with:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail.
  • A max fine of $10,000.
  • Felony probation.
  • Up to 240 hours of community service.

Petty theft looting is always a misdemeanor offense and comes with:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Misdemeanor probation.
  • Up to 80 hours of community service.

Don’t Be a Looter

Stealing is never a good idea. However, doing it during an emergency is especially horrible. People already have enough problems to deal with during an emergency, such as the spreading of a virus. They shouldn’t have to worry about people looting their homes and stores. This is why the act of looting is illegal, and it is taken very seriously.

What are your thoughts on California’s looting laws and looters in general? Do you think the laws are enough of a deterrent or should the consequences be more severe? Maybe you think the laws are too harsh as is. Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

When Should You Report Suspicious Activity?

When Should You Report Suspicious Activity?

When Should You Report Suspicious Activity?

The goal of law enforcement officers is to ensure that people follow the law and to keep people safe. Unfortunately, they can’t do anything unless they see the act or someone informs them of it. This is why law enforcement agencies always ask people to report any suspicious or criminal activity. Doing so allows them to enforce the law and help out people in need.

This is exactly what happened in Palm Beach, Florida when one person heard screams for help coming from a neighbor’s house. Officers quickly responded to the call, prepared to rescue someone in danger. However, it is safe to assume they had no idea what they were in for when the call came in.

Who Needed Help?

On December 29th, 2019 someone was minding her business at home when she began to hear screams from a woman. The woman was asking for help and to be let out. Upon hearing the screams, the neighbor did the right thing and called the police. She told them what she heard and officers rushed to the scene as quick as they could.

When officers arrived at the house where the screams were reported to be coming from, they found the homeowner in his driveway working on a car. The officers approached the man and when they informed him of why they were there, he laughed and offered to get the screamer. The homeowner went into his backyard and returned a few moments later holding a green parrot. This earned a laugh from many of the officers at the scene.

As it turns out, the homeowner has a 40-year-old parrot named Rambo. While he had been working on his wife’s brakes, he put Rambo into an outdoor cage in the backyard where the parrot liked to talk, sing, and scream. When the man was a kid, he taught the parrot to say: “Help, let me out,” when the parrot still lived in a cage.

After seeing that there was no criminal activity, the officers left the scene. The man later introduced his neighbor, the one who called the police, to Rambo. They both had a good laugh over the incident.

See Something, Say Something

The Department of Homeland Security has a program called See Something, Say Something. The program is meant to encourage people to report criminal and suspicious activity that they witness to their local law enforcement. They encourage people to use the 5W’s when making a report to the local authorities. The 5W’s are:

  • Who did you see?
  • What did you see?
  • When did you see it?
  • Where did it occur?
  • Why is it suspicious?

If a person is able to provide this information to the police or local sheriffs with this information, law enforcement should be able to deal with the situation.

Always Report Suspicious Activity

Even though the 5W’s refer to seeing something, this does apply to hearing things as well. This is exactly what the neighbor did in Palm Beach, Florida. She thought she heard someone in trouble and did the right thing by reporting it. In this instance, luckily, no one was actually in trouble. Even though no one was actually in trouble this time, it is better to be safe than sorry.

It is never a crime to report something that a person truly thinks is suspicious or a crime. So, if a person ever sees or hears something that they think is suspicious, they should always report it to their local authorities.

Winter Pet Tips

Winter Pet Tips

Winter Pet Tips

As the end of the year draws near, the weather gets colder and colder. Some parts of California have already reached temperatures that make most people choose to stay indoors. As the temperatures drop, it is important for everyone to stay warm for their own health and safety.

While everyone hurries to bundle up for the cold weather, they also need to consider their pets as well. While most pets have fur coats to help keep them warm, they aren’t impervious to the cold. Just like the cold will eventually worm its way through a jacket, it will do the same to fur. Plus, there is the fact that not all animals are built to tolerate all kinds of weather. Due to this, it is important for pet owners to consider their furry companions this winter.

Keeping Pets Warm This Winter

There are all sorts of things that pet owners need to consider when winter rolls around each year. Here are some things to think about when the temperatures start to drop:

  • Adjust meals to account for changes in activity. If a dog spends more time indoors and is less active in winter, then they don’t need as much food. However, if they go out a lot and are more active, then they need more food. Plus, staying warm in the cold consumes energy, so that alone means needing more food.
  • Bring pets inside. While they may have fur, a lot of pets are just as susceptible of getting frostbite and hypothermia as people are. Think of their fur as permanent jackets. Animal can resist the cold for a little bit like people can, but eventually they need to come inside too.
  • Check under the hood of your car before starting it. Outdoor cats are always looking for warm places to hide, and a warm engine can be a nice place to curl up for a nap. Unfortunately, if someone comes by and starts the car up again while the cat is still there, disaster can occur.
  • Increase time between baths. Just like people, pets can suffer from dry skin, which can be dried out from baths. Since putting moisturizer on with all of that fur is a bit difficult, it is best to simply reduce the number of baths pets get in winter to help prevent the skin from drying out in the first place.
  • Keep dogs on leashes near bodies of water. Letting a dog off their leash near water is how the dog can end up running across the ice and falling in.
  • Keep walks shorter. Reducing the lengths of walks can reduce the exposure to the cold and help prevent any cold related health risks.
  • Provide jackets for pets. Some animals simply don’t have the fur to deal with cold or snow. Think of Chihuahuas and their short fur.
  • Provide proper shelter. The best place for pets to be in winter is indoors with their owner. However, if that is not possible, make sure outdoor pets have adequate shelter from the cold. The floor of the shelter should be raised above the ground, the door should face away from the wind, and a heavy burlap or plastic sheet should cover the door. The inside should be large enough for the animal to lay down comfortably, but small enough to conserve heat, and have a layer of sawdust or straw to lay on.
  • Take care of your dog’s paws. Wipe their paws after walks near roads that have been salted. The salt can get on the pup’s paws and make him/her sick after licking it off. Try putting booties on dogs’ paws to both keep them warm and clean.

Keep an Eye out for Motorcycles

Motorcycle laws

Keep an Eye out for Motorcycles

For the most part, cars dominate the roadways here in California and most of the United States as well. However, they are not the only vehicles out there that drivers need to keep an eye on. Semi-trucks take up large portions of the road, but luckily they are easy to see. The real problem is motorcycles.

Motorcycles aren’t super common, but they can still be seen pretty often. When they do show up, a driver needs to be extra careful and vigilant. It’s bad enough when full sized cars disappear in a driver’s blind spot, but since motorcycles are smaller, they disappear easier and more often.

Motorcycle Facts

According to the California DMV, a motorcycle is defined as any 2 or 3 wheeled vehicle that has a 150cc or bigger engine. Due to the device’s smaller, and more dangerous, nature, riders need to have a special license to drive one of these vehicles.

One study in 2016 reported motorcycle deaths were 28 times higher than car related deaths for the same year. Another study found that motorcyclists are 5 times more likely to get injured than people riding in a car. This is due to the fact there is nothing to protect a motorcycle rider in the event of an accident, except for what they are wearing.

There is no denying that motorcycles are more dangerous to drive than other vehicles. Even if a motorcycle driver is the best in the world, they still have to worry about other drivers who may not realize that the motorcycle is even there.

California Motorcycle Laws

The state of California has several laws that pertain to motorcycles. Some of these laws include:

  • Vehicle Code (VC) 27803 – this law requires that motorcycle riders wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant helmet whenever they ride.
  • VC 26709 – This law requires all motorcycles to be equipped with left and right mirrors.
  • VC 27801 – This law states that the handlebars of the bike cannot be in a position that puts the rider’s hands more than 6 inches above his/her shoulders.

These are just a few of the laws that the state has enacted in order to keep motorcycle riders safe. Some other things that motorcycle riders need to be aware of include having functioning turn signals on the front and back of their bike, lane splitting, driving between two cars is legal, and lane sharing, two motorcycles driving next to one another in the same lane, is also permitted.

Drive Safely

Drivers have to be vigilant if they want to avoid getting into an accident. They have to be extra cautious around motorcycles to ensure that they don’t swerve or even bump into them. What would be a minor bump or inconvenience for the car driver can be deadly for a motorcyclist.

Meanwhile, motorcyclists need to be aware of the fact that their chosen method of transit is more risky than driving in a car. They, more than other drivers, need to more closely follow the rules of the road and avoid risky behavior such as speeding.

So long as every driver and rider takes the proper precautions, they can avoid getting into an accident with a motorcycle. That is something everyone wants, especially since motorcycle accidents have such a high chance of being fatal. Next time you’re driving around, be sure to keep an eye out for motorcycles near you.