A person convicted of a crime is required to pay a fine and/or fees within a certain deadline. Senate Bill 185 would require the court to determine whether a person is indigent and how much of any associated fine, fees, or other financial penalties that person can afford to pay.
Under the proposed law if an individual is indigent, the court must reduce all fines and fees by 80% on all pending charges. A person must prove that he or she is indigent by providing specified information under penalty of perjury. In fact, the court can restore fines and fees to the full amount if a person willfully provides fraudulent information with regard to his or her financial status.
Furthermore, SB-185 requires the court to offer payment plans to everyone charged with an infraction. For those that are not indigent payments would be no more than 5% of one’s monthly income. For those that are, a person will have a $0 monthly payment plan until the individual’s financial circumstances change. If there is no change in 48 months, the courts must discharge any outstanding balances.
The current law authorizes the court to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles.
When a person does not appear in court or does not pay a fine current law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend and prohibits from issuing a driver’s license. The proposed law would remove such requirement. In fact, this bill would also prohibit the court from issuing a bench warrant for failing to appear in court for traffic violations. SB-185, however, does not alter the law related to driver’s license suspensions for reckless driving or driving under the influence.
Another significant benefit of SB-185 is that it reduces the penalty for failure to appear and failure to pay from a misdemeanor to an infraction. It goes without saying that any misdemeanor conviction can permanently damage your reputation, your ability to get a job, and all other aspects of your life.
At the end of the day the senate bill would ease the burden of traffic tickets on the indigent. Studies have shown how damaging it is to all people, in particular the indigent, when you are unable to resolve unpaid traffic tickets. Countless amount of Californians are in significant debt with the court and lose their driver’s licenses and income as a result. This is a great step forward.
The California Senate took a step in addressing what numerous described as an expensive failed policy that worsened racial disparities in sentencing by passing SB-180.
The law allows greater funding for programs and services that improve public security, including community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment, job programs, and housing. How? The law would reduce jail congestion and stop the need to build and staff expensive new prisons. Additionally, it addresses increasing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Though the amount of drug use and sales are similar across racial lines, minorities are far more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for drug law violations.
The bill repeals the three-year sentence enhancement for some prior drug convictions; part of a reform package that lawmakers say would defend juveniles and make parity in the justice system.
Enacted in 1985, the enhancement was intended to deter drug sales and lessen availability of drugs in California. Experts agreed that it failed on all counts – drugs are cheaper, stronger, and more widely available than at any other time in U.S. history.
How the law worked prior to SB-180
In California, a person convicted of sales can face a sentence of three to five years imprisonment, plus an additional three years in jail for each prior conviction for related drug offenses. For example, a person facing a new conviction for possessing a very small amount of drugs for sale, which has a base penalty of up to five years, could face an extra nine years if they have three prior convictions for sale. This is not an unusual scenario for addicted, homeless drug users. These types of drug enhancements are the foremost cause of sentences over 10 years in county jail, according to research.
The policy implication of SB-180
SB-180 is a modest reversal of harmful policy under the so-called war on drugs, which excessively targets minorities and does not stop the flow of narcotics. The old law has wasted millions of California taxpayer dollars. Eliminating the enhancement would free up funds that could be invested in programs and services that reduce crime and improve public safety.
Furthermore, the enhancement punishes an individual twice for prior drug convictions without addressing the root cause of a person’s involvement with drugs. This sentence enhancement has contributed to jail and prison congestion, and does little or nothing to deter drug sales, or to lessen the amount of drugs or drug dealing in communities. The new law is a step forward in restoring balance in the criminal justice system.
Domestic violence, sometimes called spousal abuse, is used as an umbrella for all forms of abuse between two individuals who share a close bond.
The WHAT: “Abuse”
What exactly constitutes domestic violence against another person? Is physical contact required? Or are threatening words enough? Although the crux of domestic violence is defined similarly across state lines, many legislatures express subtle distinctions from one another in their definitions of this unlawful behavior.
In California, the Family Code provides the most cohesive definition of domestic violence. The sections defining domestic violence are collectively known as the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA). The word “abuse” is defined as any of the following:
Many have provided a more expansive definition of domestic violence, and even classify such behavior into different groups.
THE WHO: “Domestic”
Who falls under the category of domestic violence? Is it only a spouse? His or her boyfriend? A live-in partner?
Section 6011 of the Family Code states that “domestic violence” is abuse committed against any of the following persons:
In lay terms, the following people are included under the category of domestic violence pursuant to California law:
Punishments for Domestic Violence Charges
The criminal charges associated with domestic violence can have a distinct and serious impact on a person’s reputation and personal freedoms. When facing these allegations, an accused can often lose professional or personal opportunities, even if the case is still pending.
Perhaps the most distinctive part of a domestic violence conviction is the requirement that the defendant attend a batterer’s program at his or her own expense. These programs are often third-party programs associated with, but not run by, the state. During the program, individuals are expected to work through a specialized curriculum, producing a progress report for the court on a regular basis. Failure to attend these classes may lead to more consequences in court for failing to comply with your probation terms. With each violation, the government tends to take a more punitive tone.
In addition, to required classes and probation, a conviction will lead to a criminal protective order being issued by the court. A criminal protective order is enforced by the threat of prosecution, meaning that contact between the accused and alleged victim can lead to new charges. Additionally, a domestic violence conviction can lead to losing the right to carry a firearm either temporarily or permanently, depending on the situation.
Are You Facing Domestic Violence Charges?
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is essential for you to hire an attorney with years of experience in handling these type of cases. The reality is that fighting a charge(s) can be quite difficult, because the government has unlimited resources to prosecute you. While it is true that some people are victims of domestic violence, there are many people who are falsely accused. With the right attorney by your side, you can create a solid defense that can lead to the case being dropped or have a successful outcome at trial.
Furthermore, by working with an experienced lawyer you will be able to mitigate the consequences of a conviction. For example, your attorney can fight to keep you out of jail. But of course, there are situations in which custody time is inevitable. A skilled lawyer will fight to minimize your sentence.
Regardless of your situation, it is essential to be upfront with your lawyer. By telling the whole story (good and bad), your lawyer will be able to create the best possible defense on your behalf. The last thing your attorney needs is to face an unexpected piece of evidence that could potentially unravel your entire defense.
Remember – your conversations with your attorney are confidential. This doesn’t hold true with other people you speak with. Therefore, you should exercise your right to remain silent at all times especially if you are being investigated or prosecuted for domestic violence.
In California, there are two parts to a DUI case. First, Vehicle Code section 23152(a) focuses on whether a person is too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle at the time of driving. This can be assessed by looking at the person’s driving pattern, performance on field sobriety tests (FST), and other “objective signs” of intoxication. Second, under Vehicle Code section 23152(b), the prosecutor need only show that an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was .08% or more while driving. A driver under the age of 21 with as much as .01% BAC may also be cited for a DUI.
California’s DUI laws are very strict and can lead to months, years, or even a lifetime of negative consequences. DUI laws are complex because of all the variables that are involved in the case. How a person is charged and how penalties are imposed depend on a number of factors. An experienced attorney knows the intricacies of the law and have access to expert witnesses, all of which can help you build a stronger defense.
Living in California generally requires a great deal of driving. As a result, the chances of one getting pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence is high.
California law has mandatory penalties for DUI convictions. The legal consequences increase in proportion to the number of convictions and whether it is a misdemeanor or felony DUI. It goes without saying that the penalties for a 3rd or felony DUI are significantly worse than someone being charged with a first offense. Below you will find some of the possible consequences for being convicted of a DUI:
First Offense: Vehicle Code Section 23538(a)(1)
Second Offense in 10 Years: Vehicle Code Section 23542(a)
Third Offense in 10 Years: Vehicle Code Section 23548(a)
Fourth Offense in 10 Years: Vehicle Code Section 23552(a)
When in Doubt - Plead Not Guilty
It may seem counterintuitive to plead not guilty, but doing so may give you the most leverage throughout the DUI process. At your first court appearance, you may request a continuance in order to hire an attorney. Due to the complexities of a DUI (FST and blood/breath testing) hiring a lawyer will provide you with the clarity and assurance you need during these troubling times.
You are not alone. An experienced defense attorney can fight for you and help minimize the consequences of your arrest. Significantly, a skilled defense lawyer will be able to spot any issues with your case and proceed to trial if necessary.