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Can you Stay Open for Business Even Though the California Governor Says Otherwise

can-you-stay-open-for-business-even-though-the-california-governer-says-otherwise

COVID-19 has done more than simply worry that we’re dying each time we cough. It has also triggered some pretty intense discussions about how much power the government has when it comes to shutting down your business. Most business owners never imagined that a day would come when the Governor would saw what businesses could and couldn’t stay open, how many people were allowed into the businesses that were allowed to operate, and even the items you’re allowed to sell. Yet that’s exactly the type of world we’re currently dealing with.

Business owners, particularly small business owners that rely on in-person sales are in a tough spot. On one hand, following the governor’s orders and staying closed means losing their business to the bank. On the other hand, ignoring the governor and opening up means losing their business license, or worse.

If you’re a small business owner who is wondering if you can skirt the governor’s orders and stay open, here are a few things you should know.

No One Really Knows Anything

One of the biggest problems is that no one really knows how much power state governors have when it comes to telling business owners that they have to close the doors. As a result, some business owners have opted to defy closure orders and stay open. Others have opted to change their inventory just enough so they can qualify their business as an essential business. Others are toeing the law and praying that the pandemic lightens up enough for them to eventually reopen their doors.

Are Police Enforcing Business Closure Orders During the Pandemic

While there have been reports of some business owners being arrested for defying shut down orders, the most famous cases involve a pair of New Jersey gym owners and a Michigan barber. There’s been little information about California business owners who have defied the shutdown orders being arrested… yet.

It’s difficult to say if the lack of arrests stems from business owners obeying the order, police turning a blind eye to businesses who are operating but staying low key despite the shutdown order, or if there simply hasn’t been much press coverage.

Something to Consider

As a small business owner, it is up to you to decide if you want to defy the shutdown order and stay open even though you know that there is a risk you’ll lose your business license or even be arrested for your act of defiance. If you’re considering opening, one thing you should stop to consider is your liability if someone contracts COVID-19 and are able to trace the infection point to your business.

Currently, it’s unclear how insurance companies plan to handle such claims, but there is a chance that they could say that since you defied the shutdown orders, they don’t have to intervene on your behalf, leaving you vulnerable to a costly civil lawsuit.

Hopefully, something will happen so that pandemic worries decrease and everyone can return to a normal life where they don’t have to weigh the pros and cons of maintaining their livelihood and breaking the law.

What to do When the Police Ask for Camera Footage

what-to-do-when-the-police-ask-for-camera-footage

Over the past 10 or 15 years, cameras have become a major part of our daily lives. They’re on our phones, in our homes, built into doorbells, and even mounted on the dashboards of our cars. We usually don’t give them a second thought until the police request the footage. That’s when we suddenly start to wonder exactly what our rights are.

Can the Police Request Camera Footage Without a Warrant?

If you’re wondering if the police can ask to see the footage one of your cameras has captured even when they don’t have a warrant, the answer is yes. Where things get murkier is when you’re trying to figure out if you have to grant their request.

Do You Have to Hand Your Cameras to the Police?

If the police suspect that the camera on your phone, dashboard, or home security system contains information that pertains to a crime they’re investigating, they are allowed to take it, even if you don’t willingly hand it over. They are required to provide you with a receipt. What the police aren’t allowed to do is simply flip through the phone or watch any of the videos without permission. There are two ways they can obtain this permission. The first is if you tell them that you don’t mind. The second is by getting a warrant to inspect the camera.

The problem with camera footage is that if the police find incriminating evidence, they can use it against you.

RING Doorbells and the Police

If you have a RING doorbell, you should know that it’s possible the police may already have access to the footage the camera has captured. The brand is actively marketed to the police and some police stations have even been given the doorbells which they hand out to citizens. Amazon, who owns the company that manufactures RING doorbell does this because they are trying to cut down on delivery package thefts. It’s a good idea unless the police suspect you of a crime. Footage that is less than 60 days old and has been uploaded to a network cloud can easily fall into the police’s hands, even without your permission or a warrant.

Tony Botti, who is a Public Information Officer with the Fresno County Sheriff’s office spoke about this issue. “If we ask within 60 days of the recording and as long as it’s been uploaded to the cloud, then Ring can take it out of the cloud and send it to us legally so that we can use it as part of our investigation,” Tony said. “The consumer knows what they’re getting into. If you’re a good upstanding person who is doing things lawfully, nobody has concerns.”

When it comes to camera footage and the police, it’s in your best interest to delete any potentially damaging photos or videos that you’ve already recorded and to turn your camera off if you’re worried that it can ever be used against you during a criminal investigation.

Yellow Traffic Lights in California

yellow-traffic-llights-in-california

On paper, it’s a simple concept. When you see a flashing yellow traffic light it means you have the right of way, but that you should stay alert and use caution while going through an intersection. A solid yellow light means that the light is about to change to red and you should plan on stopping. That’s the idea but we all know drivers who seem to think that the solid yellow light is a challenge. Instead of slowing down, they mash the accelerator to the floor and barrel through the intersection, often just as the light changes from yellow to green.

The Risk of Trying to Beat the Red

No one likes to wait at stoplights. It’s easy to understand the desire to want to beat the red light, but it’s important to understand just how deadly this desire is. During 2017, 927 of California’s traffic accident fatalities were caused by someone trying to beat a red light. Each of those deaths could have been prevented.

The Legalities of Rushing a Yellow Light

Remember back when you were taking driver’s training and your instructor advised you to slow down for yellow lights. That’s not just good advice. It’s the law. When you take the time to read through the California Vehicle Code Section 21453, you’ll discover that the state considers it the, “driver’s responsibility to slow down at a yellow light, to come to a stop at the line in for the red.”

What does that mean?

The only time you’re technically allowed to go through a yellow light is when the light changes after you’ve passed the point of no return. That point happens when even if you slammed on your brakes, you’d still blast through the intersection.

While it doesn’t happen often if a cop sees you speed up for a yellow light, they can give you a ticket and you’ll have a difficult time fighting it.

There are times when you’re legally allowed to turn when the light is yellow. If you’re sitting in the middle of the intersection waiting for a break in traffic so you can make a left turn, you’re legally allowed to turn when the light is yellow. You’re even allowed to turn left when the light is red, provided your car is in the intersection.

You’re also allowed to turn right on a yellow provided there aren’t any oncoming vehicles. If this is something you plan on doing, keep in mind that the approaching traffic might be going even faster than you expect because they are trying to beat the red light.

What Happens If You Take Prescription Drugs without a Prescription?

what-happens-if-you-take-perscription-drugs-without-a-prescription

Most of us have done it. We’ve had a splitting headache or strained something. When an over the counter medication doesn’t seem to touch the pain, rather than going to the doctor, we usually scrounge in our medicine cabinet until we find some old prescription pain medication. If we don’t find anything in our own cupboard, we often ask a friend or family member for something.

Most of us don’t give this type of thing a second thought even though we’re technically breaking the law.

The good news is that most of us only do this once, maybe twice in our lives. If the pain persists, we usually got ourselves to the doctor who checks us out, diagnosis the problem, and writes a prescription for pain killers. Just like that, our little stint on the wrong side of the law is forgotten.

While people seldom get caught taking a prescription drug without a prescription, you should know that doing so has the potential to create all kinds of legal problems for you.

The first thing to consider is drug testing. An increasing number of employers have made random drug tests mandatory. If you take a prescription drug that you don’t have a prescription for it could show up in your drug test. This could result in your losing your job, and depending on who you work for, they could even turn you into the police.

The reason there is a zero-tolerance policy for taking any type of prescription drug without a prescription dates back to the opioid epidemic. The high volume of people who became addicted to opioids triggered new laws that led to a tight crackdown on who is issued a prescription for pain killers, how many prescription drugs are prescribed, and how high a dose a person can take.

Don’t assume that just because you were issued a prescription for the drugs that you’re free to take them years later. You’re not. Unless you have a new prescription, you’re no longer allowed to take those drugs.

Even if you haven’t actually taken the prescription drugs that weren’t actually prescribed to you but are caught with them on you, for example, when you’re pulled over for a traffic infraction, drug charges could be filed against you. The only exception is if you’re transporting the prescription from the pharmacy for someone, in which case, the drugs should still be sealed in the pharmacy packaging and you should have proof in the form of a receipt that you were in the authorized pickup person.

If you feel you need a prescription drug to manage your pain, it is in your best interest to visit your doctor and have them officially prescribe the medication you need.

Beware of the IRS Mail Scam Going Around

Beware of the IRS Mail Scam Going Around

Beware of the IRS Mail Scam Going Around

Most people are just trying to live their life. They don’t want any trouble and do everything that they can to avoid it. Whenever some government official or law enforcement officer tells them to do something, they do it, often without question. Every law abiding citizen does that. Unfortunately, even that can get a person into trouble if they are not careful.

Sadly, there are people out there who don’t exactly follow the rules, and they like to cause trouble. Their favorite people to target are the ones who are afraid of causing trouble. These bad people create scams that trick good people into giving them money or risk getting into trouble with the law.

If people want to avoid something like this, then they need to be aware of all of the different scams out there and how scammers like to operate.

IRS Mail Scam

A common scam, especially around tax season, is for scammers to send letters to potential victims. The letters arrive via the United States Postal Service (USPS), which is one of the primary forms of communication that the IRS actually uses. This adds a layer of believability to the scam. The phony letters almost perfectly replicate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms stating that the person is behind on some type of payment or something of that nature.

The letters will often state that a discrepancy was found on the victims tax returns and that they owe the IRS some amount of money. One obvious red flag that people should be aware of when it comes to scams is that the scammer will try to intimidate the victim. This can be done in a number of ways, but often involves threatening to arrest the individual or getting the police involved. The IRS would never do that.

Another warning sign involves how they ask for payments. Often times, the scammers will request money be paid immediately and in certain, untraceable ways. This way, once they have the money, there is nothing the victim can do about it. Some preferred methods include:

  • Prepaid cards
  • Gift cards
  • Money transfers

The IRS would never demand money immediately, and they definitely wouldn’t accept these kinds of payments. Anyone asking or demanding for this kind of payment is clearly a scammer.

The Best Way to Be Sure

Probably one of the best ways to check on whether or not something claiming to be from the IRS is a scam is to just contact the IRS. If a person receives a letter in the mail stating there was a discrepancy on their tax returns and they are unsure of the authenticity of the letter, then they should call the IRS.

Finding contact information for the agency is as easy as going to their website: IRS.gov. A person can then call up and talk to someone who actually knows something in order to confirm whether or not the letter is real.

Contacting the IRS may not be the most fun thing in the world to do, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t Get Scammed

No hard working individual ever wants to scammed out of their money, but they also don’t want to get into any trouble with law enforcement. That fear of getting into trouble is what scammers feed off of. They want to scare their victims into acting without thinking things through enough to see the cracks in their scam. This is why it is always best for a person to take a step back and think things through. Doing so could easily help a person see the scam for what it is.

Have you received a letter claiming to be from the IRS that states you owe money on your taxes? If so, be sure to really examine that letter, and talk to the actual IRS to confirm the letter’s authenticity to avoid being conned.

Can Minors Have Alcohol in California?

Can Minors Have Alcohol in California?

Can Minors Have Alcohol in California?

There are certain laws that everyone knows about, such as don’t drive over the speed limit, don’t steal things from other people, and anyone under 21 is not allowed to drink alcohol. However, while these laws are well known, a lot of people tend to ignore them, which is never a good idea.

Ignoring a law is a good way to get into trouble. One slip up could cause a person to be arrested or forced to pay a fine. This is especially true when it comes to laws surrounding minors and alcohol. Breaking a law is bad enough as an adult, abut as a minor it can lead to problems down the line.

Minors and Alcohol Laws in California

Here in the state of California, it is illegal for minors to consume alcohol under Business and Professions Code (BPC) 25658. Under this law, it is illegal to do the following:

  • Sell alcohol to a minor, anyone under the age of 21.
  • Buying alcohol as a minor is illegal.
  • It is a misdemeanor to give alcohol to a minor who then gets into a car accident for driving while drunk.
  • It is a misdemeanor to allow a minor to consume alcohol on business property regardless if the person knew the minor was under 21 or not.

Don’t Get a DUI This Thanksgiving

Don’t Get a DUI This Thanksgiving

Don’t Get a DUI This Thanksgiving

Halloween came and went and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. The holiday season is upon us and that means a lot of parties, family, and drinking. This is a great time of year and is usually filled with lots of fun. Unfortunately, some people make a single decision that can ruin the festivities for everyone.

Alcohol is often very prominent at parties, and so naturally, people tend to get drunk at holiday parties. On its own, this is fine. The trouble comes when someone who has been drinking decides they are going to drive themselves home. They think things like they’re fine, or just buzzed, and then take their keys and leave. Sometimes they make it home. Other times they don’t.

Drunk Driving Is Illegal

Drinking and driving is illegal, and everyone knows that. However, people still do it anyways, and it is incredibly dangerous.

When a person has consumed alcohol, operating normally becomes difficult. Alcohol dulls the senses and distorts a person’s thinking. Due to this, when a person drives drunk, they are less capable of driving safely. They struggle to drive straight, stop properly, and avoid any surprises that are sent their way. This is why drunk drivers get into so many accidents.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in California under several different laws. The main law being Vehicle Code (VC) 23152. This law states that it is illegal for any person to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is especially true if the person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater.

DUI Checkpoints

Law enforcement agencies are always keeping an eye out for drunk drivers. They want to get them off of the road as quickly as they can before an accident occurs. They will pull over any vehicle that they suspect may be driven by a drunk driver.

Around days where there tends to be a lot of partying, law enforcement agencies kick things up a notch. Instead of just waiting to stumble upon a drunk driver, they setup checkpoints near popular areas to try and catch the driver in the act.

DUI checkpoints are often posted in advance to give people plenty of warning and the option to avoid them if they want. At the checkpoint, cars will have to wait their turn to speak with an officer. When an officer is ready, they will signal for a driver to pull forward. From there, the officer will ask a few questions, such as:

  • Where are you going?
  • Where are you coming from?
  • Have you been drinking tonight?

California Loitering Laws

Loitering Laws

California Loitering Laws

Pretty much everyone has seen a sign telling people that loitering is prohibited in a certain area. However, not everyone knows or understands exactly what loitering means. On top of that, how much trouble can a person actually get into for loitering? Is it a big deal? The answer to that depends on how exactly the person was loitering.

Laws on Loitering Here in California

For those who don’t know, loitering is the act of lingering in a private or public place for no apparent reason. The key to this definition is that the person has no reason to be in the area. This means that if a person is hanging out waiting for someone, they are not actually loitering, even if it may appear that way to someone else.

Most businesses don’t like loiterers because they can scare off potential customers, but as it turns out, the act of loitering in and of itself is not a crime in the state of California. However, if the person is attempting to do something else while loitering, they can get into some legal trouble.

There are 5 different state laws that are concerned about loitering:

  • PC 303a “Loitering to solicit the purchase of alcohol” – It is a crime for a person to ask people to buy alcohol for them, especially when they’ve been cut off from a bar or are a minor.
  • PC 416 “Failing to disperse” – Failing to leave a place after being ordered to do so by a police officer is a type of loitering that can get a person in trouble. This is due to the fact that the officer has asked/ordered the person to leave and they have failed to do so.
  • Penal Code (PC) 602 “Trespassing” – Entering and lingering on someone else’s property without their permission can be seen as a type of loitering that can get a person into trouble.
  • PC 652b “Loitering at a school” – It is a crime to loiter at a school, or any other place where children often get together, if a person has no reason to be at that location, or they are planning to commit a crime such as kidnapping.
  • PC 653.22 “Loitering with intent to commit prostitution” – This one is pretty self-explanatory. Prostitution is illegal and so hanging around a place to commit prostitution is also illegal.

Basically, any time a person is hanging out in an area with the intent of committing a crime that is why they can get into trouble for loitering. It is the crime the person is planning to do that gets them into trouble, not so much the act of loitering.

Penalties for Loitering

If a person is accused of breaking any of the above loitering laws, they face misdemeanor charges. This means that a person faces the following penalties:

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

Most of the time, loitering isn’t a big deal, and as such, the consequences for the various loitering crimes are relatively light.

The Intent to Commit a Crime Is Illegal.

While hanging around a place for no apparent reason is not a crime, doing so with the intent of committing a crime is illegal. It is the intent a person has that can get them into trouble. As long as a person has a reason to be in an area, and hasn’t been asked to leave, they are typically within their rights to stay there.

What do you think about California’s laws surrounding loitering? Are they fair, or are they too small for the crime? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

What Counts as Distracted Driving?

Distracted Driving

What Counts as Distracted Driving?

Pretty much every driver out there is aware of that the fact they should not drive while distracted. Some of the worst culprits for causing distractions behind the wheel, are smart phones. These amazingly useful handheld devices allow a person to access the internet and everything held within it. Unfortunately, that is a very dangerous thing to do while driving.

Distracted driving can be deadly, which is why it is illegal here in California. Unfortunately, despite knowing this, many drivers are still very guilty of putting themselves at risk by driving while distracted.

California’s Different Distracted Driving Laws

As far as California law is concerned, there are two different ways that a person can get into trouble for distracted driving. How a person is charged is dependent on what activity they were performing when they should have been focusing on the road in front of them.

California Vehicle Code (VC) 23123 is the state’s cellphone and handheld device use while driving law. This law makes it illegal for anyone to use a cellphone, or other handheld electronic device, for any reason while driving. However, there are a few exceptions to this law:

  • Drivers are allowed to use devices if they are setup for a hands-free mode.
  • Drivers are allowed to use phones while driving if they are calling 911.
  • Emergency services drivers are permitted to use cellphones while driving.
  • This law doesn’t apply to drivers driving on their own personal property.

California Car Theft Laws

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California Car Theft Laws

Cars are very expensive, but very useful to have. Owning a vehicle allows a person to go to work, run errands, and perform all sorts of other activities on their own schedule. They don’t have to rely on buses and other people to drive them around. It is very freeing to own a vehicle.

However, cars are not a cheap investment. They cost several thousands of dollars, which is why car owners try their best to take care of their investments. Unfortunately, there are people out there who would rather take someone else’s car than buy one themselves. Depending on how they take the car, they could get into all sorts of trouble.

Different State Laws

Here in the state of California, there are all sorts of laws regarding car theft. The laws vary on how the car was stolen, and the intent behind the theft. Some of the big car theft laws include: grand theft auto, carjacking, and joyriding.

Grand theft auto is illegal in California under Penal Code (PC) 487 which is the state’s grand theft law. Grand theft auto is a sub-category of grand theft. PC 487 defines grand theft auto as the act of taking a car valued at over $950 from someone else without their permission and with the intent of depriving the owner of the vehicle, or scraping and selling the vehicle. If a person does this, then they are guilty of grand theft auto.

Carjacking is similar to grand theft, however it is its own unique crime. Under PC 215, carjacking is defined as forcefully taking a vehicle from the owner’s immediate presence. Basically, this means taking the car from a person as they are driving it, or getting into it. The person often uses force or fear to get the vehicle in these instances, making the crime more violent.

Joyriding is its own crime as well here in California. Vehicle Code (VC) 10851 defines joyriding as taking someone else’s car without their permission regardless if they intended to simply borrow the car, or keep it for themselves.

Consequences of Car Theft

Depending on how a person stole the vehicle, determines which law they broke and therefor what consequences they face.

If a person breaks PC 487, they will likely face felony charges. While the crime is a wobbler here in California, which means it could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, the crime is typically charged as a felony. The penalties of felony grand theft auto are:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail.
  • A max fine of $10,000.