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Law Changes to be Aware of for 2017
As the end of the year draws to a close, the time is right to reflect on law changes scheduled to be in effect January 1st, or soon after. While the large majority of the California population is knowledgeable and likely excited for the change in marijuana laws, there are a few other changes it can’t hurt to be mindful of for the coming year.
Sex crime laws have garnered some of the largest changes that will take effect in the new year. A shift in focus to heavily punish rape and other related sexual offenses will dramatically increase sentencing and overall outlook for those convicted of these crimes. Driving law changes have aimed to make the roads and passengers a fair bit safer, but with low-cost fines it is unlikely to produce much change in the habitually distracted driver. With the passage of Proposition 64, marijuana usage will most certainly skyrocket but users should avoid breaking the related laws as fines can be steep. Remember, ignorance is not a defense.
Sex crime changes
A new law governing prostitution will offer extensive protections for minor victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. While heated challenges to Senate Bill 1322 did exist, in the end the bill passed and will take effect at the start of the new year. SB 1322 prevents law enforcement from charging those under 18 years of age with prostitution or loitering with the intent to commit prostitution. Senate Bill 1129 also has a focus on prostitution, but this time for adult offenders. It removes the mandatory minimum sentencing penalties imposed for repeat offenders who are 18 years of age or older. This change gives judges more discretion in sentencing on a case by case basis as opposed to the hardline penalties of the past.
While mandatory minimum sentencing was removed in the case mentioned above, new laws related to sexual assault and rape will have a considerable impact on future sentencing. Fueled by outrage over the Brock Turner sentencing, Assembly Bill 2888 ensures that certain rape cases have mandatory minimum prison sentences that are unable to be suspended. Any rape with a degree of force, or sexual assault of an individual unable to consent due to intoxication or an unconscious state will now have mandated prison terms.
Additionally, Assembly Bill 27 will classify all forms of rape as a violent felony. Previously force or threat of force was required to classify a rape as a violent felony for the purposes of stricter sentencing. Now all forms will be classified as violent, including consented sex with someone deemed not mentally or developmentally able to give legal consent due to disability. This coincides with Assembly Bill 701 that labels any sexual assault that is not explicitly consented to as rape with regards to criminal law. Finally, Senate Bill 813 removes the statute of limitations for rape as well as other sex crimes. No longer is prosecution limited to within 10 years or by the minor victim’s 40th birthday. This law however is not retroactive.
In accordance with the theme of stiffening sex offender penalties, Senate Bill 1182 address the possession of common date rape drugs. Previously possession of date rape associated drugs such as GHB, roofies and ketamine were only charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, with the passing of the new law the possession of a specific set of drugs combined with intent to commit sexual assault or rape will now allow the prosecution to seek felony level charges. Despite the seemingly strict shift, intent to commit sexual assault will still need to be shown in these cases which may prove harder than it seems.
Proposition 64 changes deserve to be addressed to both clarify the law and counter some of the myths of absolute freedom commonly believed by some individuals. Here is an overview of things to keep in mind.
- Smoking marijuana in public is illegal
- Smoking marijuana while driving is illegal
- DUI laws regarding marijuana use have not changed in any capacity
- Mere possession on the property of schools, day cares and other facilities where and when children are present remains a crime.
- Most infraction penalties are simply fines
- Selling marijuana without a license can earn you six months in jail and/or a fine.
- Individuals can grow up to 6 plants indoors. Outdoor growing, if allowed by local laws, can not be publicly visible.
Driving law changes
Assembly Bill 1785 aims to further clamp down on distracted driving, while giving some needed leeway to those operating mounted GPS devices. Calling or texting has already been banned by the state, but now the restrictions to apply to use of a unmounted phone. AB 1785 bars drivers for handling or using their phones for any use it its entirety while driving, so say good bye to checking Facebook notifications. There are two saving graces to the bill however. One, phones that are mounted to the dashboard can still be operated, provided the action can be completed in a single swipe or tap. Secondly, the penalties are quite slim at only $20 for the first offense and little more than double that for later offenses.
While less notable, two additional driving-related laws are helping make passengers just a little bit safer. The first is Assembly Bill 53 which will finally go into effect after a long wait from its passage in 2015. The new law requires children aged two years and under to be secured in a car seat that faces the rear of the vehicle for additional safety. The second law should give all users of services such as Uber, Sidecar and Lyft more piece of mind when utilizing the popular transportation services. Assembly Bill 1289 makes full local, state and federal background checks mandatory for all prospective drivers. Additionally, no registered sex offenders or violent criminals can be a driver. Drivers previously convicted of DUIs are also now ineligible to drive for the companies. Any violations of the aforementioned law by the transportation network companies will result in still fines.
With such knee-jerk reactions to law-making that potentially undo all the hard work of escaping the mandatory minimum trends, it is more important than ever to have the right defense attorney at your side. Several formerly misdemeanor offenses have been quietly upgraded to serious felonies that can drastically impact your livelihood and freedom. While the average person may be unaware of the major sweeping changes to sex crime laws, Vik Monder is prepared for when success is the difference between incarceration and freedom. Experienced in DUI related offenses, sex crimes defense and assault related crimes, Monder Law provides the representation you deserve. If you need a criminal defense attorney who will fight hard for you, contact the Monder Law Office at 619-405-0063. Your consultation is always free so let us show you what we can do to win your case.