Happy New Year……okay I know that it is officially too late to be greeting you all with that. However, I noticed that the very important new-laws-of-2012-post has not been published yet. So here we go, criminal law version:
Handgun Open Carry Law
New in 2012, civilians can no longer open-carry handguns. This is because law enforcement officers cannot tell whether openly carried weapons are loaded or not. Violate this law and you could face a penalty of $1,000 and 6 months in jail – making this a misdemeanor crime. Never fear, you can still get a permit for a concealed weapon.
New DUI Law
A new section had been added to the California Vehicle Code authorizing court to revoke a driver’s license for 10 years if a person is convicted of three or more DUIs. Motorists may apply for reinstatement of their license with the DMV after five years, if the driver installs an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle. See VC23579.
New Reckless Driving Law
This new law allows California drivers convicted of reckless driving under section 23103.5 of the Vehicle Code (“wet reckless”) to apply for a restricted driver’s license prior to the completion of their one year suspension if they meet specific conditions, such as the installation of the Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicle, they have to serve at least a 90-day suspension, and have no more than two prior alcohol-related convictions within 10 years. I would just wait out the suspension rather than suffer with the hassle of the IID.
Controversial DUI Checkpoint Vehicle Impound Law
In 2012, law enforcement officers are prohibited from impounding a vehicle for 30 days at a DUI checkpoint if the only offense is failing to have a valid driver’s license. Specifically LAPD Chief Charlie Beck had proposed lifting the 30-day impound and giving the registered owner or a license driver a reasonable chance to retrieve the vehicle. The controversy revolves around the notion that the changes reward lawbreakers and put politics above safety. Read more at the L.A. Times.
Child Safety-Seat Requirements
The law used to be that kids had to ride in safety or booster seats until they reached age 6 or weighed 60 pounds. Now they have to reach age 8 or at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall before they no longer have to ride in a safety seat. The police can stop a vehicle for a suspected violation of this law.
New Drug-Related Laws
Synthetic Stimulants: Effective in October of 2011, California has outlawed a wide range of synthetic stimulant drugs, including what is called “bath salts” and the several street names it goes under, such as “Ivory Wave,” “Red Dove,” and “Vanilla Sky.” Common ingredients are Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Naphthylpyrovalerone (NRG-1). See Health and Safety Code Section 11375.5.
Cough Suppressant: Supplying a drug or compound containing dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, to a person younger than 18 without a prescription is now illegal.
Corroboration of In-Custody Informants
A jury or judge may not convict a defendant based on the uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant. See Penal Code Section 1111.5.
Cell Phones in Prison
Smuggling or trying to smuggle a cell phone to a prison inmate is now a misdemeanor. Any inmate who is found to be in possession of a wireless communication device shall be subject to time credit denial or loss of up to 90 days.
Anti-Gang-Violence Classes For Parents
A judge can already order the parents of a kid convicted of a gang-related offense to attend anti-gang-violence parenting classes. Now a judge can do that even when the kid is convicted of something other than a gang-related offense “if the court finds the presence of significant risk factors for gang involvement on the part of the minor.” See Welfare and Institutions Code Section 727.7.
Be safe out there this year…and always.