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Learning The Basics of California’s Laws – For New Residents

BY HELEN LAME´

Of late, California has made a lot of exciting new changes in its lawbook that places more value on the worth of individuals. Located in the Western U. S. coastline, it is also the home of Hollywood. Initially a Republican state, of late this has been thoroughly Democratic, and that is showing in the results.

Here are 10 laws you should know about California, especially if you are a new resident here.

1. DUI Threshold

Like in other states in the US, the ‘per se’ blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08 per cent, but the punishment is the most stringent here as compared to the other states. There are regular sobriety checkpoints.

A first offense without physical injuries involved means $2,000 in fines and assessments along with 48 hours in prison, a three-month compulsory alcohol education program and suspension of license for a few months.

In case of a third offense within a 10-year period, the prison term increases to 16 months, along with a monetary penalty of $18,000 and a 30-month alcohol treatment program. In addition, there are a host of open container laws which you should be mindful about.

2. No Cash for Bail

A lot of suspects are able to walk out if they have the cash on them to pay bail, meaning that it is mostly the poor who populate the prison. To even out the system, prisoners will now be evaluated in terms of the risk they pose in pre-trial assessments.

The dangerous individuals or those with higher flight risk will become “high risk,” and the bail mechanism will be worked out accordingly. While this is a welcome move to correct the social injustice that often lies behind incarceration, the critics of the law say that it will place too much power in the hands of the prosecutors and courts.

To locate a loved one who you suspect might have been imprisoned, you will need the assistance of a seasoned attorney, or use a reliable database such as PrisonRoster.

3. Divorce

An average Californian has to wait or 6 months getting a divorce. Also, in California, without any kind of legal agreement, each spouse would be entitled to 50 per cent of all the marital assets.

4. Comparative Negligence for Injuries

This is a unique California law by which even a plaintiff deemed responsible for causing some form of injury might get some compensation. Regardless of the ethicality of it, California has a system of a “pure’” form of comparative negligence according to which each party is assigned proportional damages (decided on the basis of level of fault of each party).

5. Age of Majority and Emancipation

While Californian kids may have the appearance of being freer than kids in other US states, the age of majority here is 18 nonetheless. However, they can pursue emancipation, that is freedom from their guardians, once they turn 14.

6. Gambling

California allows forms of public gambling like Indian casinos, state lottery, charitable gambling, card-clubs, etc. However, games like faro, monte, roulette, etc. are illegal in California and can attract stringent penalties.

7. No Soda for Kids

America has a major obesity problem among kids. In order to tackle that, California became the first state to outlaw soda as a standard component in kids’ meals. The included beverage would be plain water, flavored milk, sparkling water, non-dairy milk substitute like soy milk, or milk. This is an enforceable penalty attracting fines up to $300 on third violation. However, any of the above-mentioned standard choices can be replaced with soda upon request from the customer.

8. Changes in Gun Laws

There are efforts to ensure stricter gun control regulations. The age limit for buying shotguns, rifles and handguns is to be raised to 21 years. Also, in a welcome move, those individuals convicted of domestic violence will be barred from owning a gun for life.

9. Employee Privacy

In an effort to even out the opportunities for job applicants, employers are no longer allowed to ask for certain information from their applicants as part of background check. According to the recent SB1412 bill, employers can no longer ask applicants to disclose any information in the written form or verbally regarding arrests or detention that did not result in any conviction, or information regarding participation in or referral to pretrial or post-trial diversion programmes, or regarding convictions that have been dismissed or closed by the law.Statutes of limitation

10. Statutes of Limitation

California has statutes of limitation which bars people from filing civil suits after 2-3 years. This becomes a bit complicated when it comes to filing complaints against offenders for sexual misdemeanours, especially those exploiting their professional capacities, because often the survivors take years to speak up. Nevertheless, if it is something which you know should be addressed, do not waste your time filing a suit.

Parting Thoughts

The best thing about California is that it is a state that never stays still, and welcoming new people while trying its best to not compromise on making lives better for everyone is an exciting thing to look at.

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