The New Year is an important time for policymakers, as a number of new laws take effect. In California, many of these new laws took effect on January 1st, while just a few others will take effect in July. Among the many new laws in California for 2015 - including laws on breast feeding in public, maternity leave, and plastic bag bans - there are several that relate directly to crime and criminal justice.
Here are a few of the new California laws that take effect in 2015:
- Impersonating a Police Officer - A new law that takes effect this year will enhance the penalties for individuals who are convicted of using a badge to impersonate a peace officer. Convicted individuals will now be subjected to a $2,000 fine rather than $1,000.
- Crack Cocaine Charges - Criminal penalties for crack cocaine charges - which have been criticized for disproportionately affecting minorities - have been changed. Now, individuals convicted of possessing crack cocaine for sale can face sentences of two to four years, rather than three to five years. This is the same penalty for offenses involving powdered cocaine.
- Juvenile Records - Minors who are charged and convicted of crimes will now have their juvenile criminal record automatically sealed when they complete all orders and terms of their sentence.
- Sex Offender Violations - A new law imposes tougher penalties for sex offenders who violate the terms of their parole. If a paroled sex offender does not report for a GPS monitor fitting or willfully tampers with the device so as to make it inoperable, they face a mandatory 180 days imprisonment.
- Gun Control - In part in response to the tragic shooting last year at UC Santa Barbara, California will now have new gun control laws. This includes requiring law enforcement to create policies that encourage officers to consult a state database to check if a potentially dangerous person owns guns, as well as allowing police or family members to obtain restraining orders that bars a person from possessing a firearm for 21 days if they have been deemed dangerous.
Policy makers at a local, state, and federal level are constantly looking at ways to create new laws to improve communities, many of which involve the regulation of crimes and the penalties convicted individuals must face. If you have questions about the new laws, or about a recent arrest and charge you may be facing, Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is here to help. Contact our firm today to discuss your case during a free consultation.