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California Laws

Fixing California's Bail SystemThe average bail for criminal defendants in California is $50,000 – five times higher than the national average. The bail system is meant to create an incentive for defendants to return to court and make it more difficult for potentially dangerous defendants to leave jail. After a defendant posts bail, he or she will be reimbursed if the case is dropped or results in a verdict of not guilty. Most defendants use bail bonds, in which a bondsman pays the bail in exchange for a fee. However, bail reform advocates say that the system disproportionately punishes low-income defendants. The likelihood of leaving jail after criminal charges is more dependent upon the defendant being able to afford bail than the risk he or she poses. As a result, California jails are overcrowded with people who are awaiting trial but have not paid their bail.

Reform

Bail schedules determine the assigned bail for each criminal charge, but the bail amount for the same charge can vary by county. Some California county courts are trying to combat jail overcrowding by lessening or eliminating bail for some defendants. Proposed state legislation would fundamentally change the bail system for all California courts. The bill would eliminate the county bail schedules and instead determine the need to jail a defendant based on his or her:

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California defense lawyer, California criminal attorneyIf you reside in California and perhaps plan on entering a life of crime as your primary career path, it may be important to understand the consequences of your actions and have an experienced criminal defense attorney on speed dial. Under the California Penal Code, the punishment level of crimes fall within these three categories.

Felony

Under California law, this category is the most heinous of criminal accusations. Although California forgoes the typical ranking systems often supported by other states, these following acts of criminal activity fall under the felony narrative.

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Posted on in California Laws

California defense attorney, California criminal lawyerWhile incidents of theft do not often make the front page news, theft is still one of the most common misdemeanors that occurs in the United States every year. There are actually several different types of theft, all that ladder up to the blanket charge, though each type may carry different punishments and sentencing, based on the severity of the crime, the circumstances, and the person’s past record.

The most basic type of theft is also known as larceny. This is defined as the unlawful taking of property that does not belong to the person in question — that is, taking something from another person or entity without that person’s permission, or with the intent of that person not knowing. The vast majority of theft cases are considered larceny. The law defines “another entity” as either a person or a place. Simple shoplifting is considered larceny, for example. If the value of the stolen item is considerable, the charge may be elevated to grand theft, which will result in more severe punishments. Grand theft auto is larceny of a moving vehicle.

Identity theft is another common type of theft — the rate of which is continually increasing as personal information, usually stored online, becomes easier and easier to obtain. Using anyone’s personal information, including a credit card number or debit card at an ATM, is considered identity theft, if the other person did not grant express permission to do so. Because identity theft can be so damaging to the victim, charges of identity theft are sometimes considered a federal crime. This can result in long jail sentences and the confiscation of any property allegedly obtained with stolen funds.

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San Jose criminal defense attorneyFor those who may be unfamiliar, there are currently 26 states, including California, that have adopted the Three Strikes and You Are Out law. California first adopted this sentencing provision in 1994 as an effort to reduce the number of felony convictions per person by imposing significant sentencing consequences for each felony conviction up to three.

On November 6, 2012, some 18 years later, California proposed an amendment to the law which became known as Proposition 36 to California voters. The proposition was passed and amended the original legislation in two ways:

  • Requirements for sentencing of a third strike offender was now set to 25 years to life if the offender was convicted of a violent felony with two or more previous strikes; and
  • The allowance of those offenders already serving a third strike sentence to petition the court for a reduction of this sentence down to a second strike eligibility.

As violent crime is on the rise across the United States one may believe that the Three Strikes and You Are Out law is necessary but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) remains in disagreement.

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Posted on in California Laws

transgender hate crime, San Jose criminal defense lawyerTransgender equality laws have been in the news lately, headlines by the bombshell story that North Carolina’s governor recently signed a law limiting the use of public bathrooms by transgendered people. The issue of transgender rights has long been one for debate, and the debate has not slowed as transgendered people and rights issues continue to be more widely accepted in society.

History of Transgender Rights in California

California was one of the first states to include transgendered people in their civil rights laws—the first law amending that state’s hate crime statutes to include specific mention of rights violations against transgendered people dates back to 1998. The 1998 California law also extended to transsexual people, and was widely considered broad enough to include any person who is assaulted or harassed for failing to conform to gender norms, including but not limited to: the way an individual dresses, the way an individual looks, and the way an individual speaks. At the time, California was only the third state to pass such a law, after Minnesota and New Hampshire.

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