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Chat room crimes are a term that typically refers to specific cases that ultimately deal with the solicitation of a minor. The term first became popular after it was used by the television show, To Catch a Predator. Chat room crimes typically involve an older person, usually, a male, who uses things like chat rooms and instant messaging to connect with and ultimately lure a minor. In many cases, the minor thinks that they are chatting with someone who is of a similar age to themselves. Chat room crimes are typically covered by solicitation of a minor laws, which are outlined in California Penal Code (PC) 288.2. The code states that:
    “Every person who knows, should have known, or believes that another person is a minor, and who knowingly distributes, sends, causes to be sent, exhibits, or offers to distribute or exhibit by any means, including by physical delivery, telephone, electronic communication, or in person, any harmful matter that depicts a minor or minors engaging in sexual conduct, to the other person with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or the minor, and with the intent or for the purposes of engaging in sexual intercourse, sodomy, or oral copulation with the other person, or with the intent that either person touches an intimate body part of the other, is guilty.”
    Chat room crimes can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. It isn’t entirely clear how the prosecutor decides whether they want to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges. What we do know is that they look at both the type and amount of evidence the police collected and your personal/criminal history before making a decision. Examples of prosecutable chat room crimes include:
  • Sending messages to a minor that are full of unmistakable sexual content
  • Sending messages to a minor with the intent of meeting with them to engage in either consensual or non-consensual sex
  • Sending videos/pictures with overtly sexual themes to minors
If you call California home, there are a few laws you should familiarize yourself with to avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.

DUI Threshold Laws

Everyone knows that getting arrested for DUI is a serious, life-altering problem. The problem is that few people know what when they have crossed over the threshold from legally able to drive and become too drunk to drive. It doesn’t matter if you are the kind of person who gets buzzed after a few sips or someone who really can hold their liquor. If you’re pulled over and your blood alcohol level is 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI.

Data Privacy Laws in California

One of the great things about calling California home is knowing that you have a legal right to know exactly what type of data businesses collect about you and what they’re using it for. The California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect on January 1, 2020. The California Consumer Privacy Act is written in such a way that you:
  • Can delete personal data a business has collected
  • Block the sale of personal data
  • Have the ability to learn exactly what data is collected/sold/shared/etc.

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Spring break is finally here! It’s time to cut loose, forget all about your studies, and have a good time. While there’s nothing wrong with relaxing and enjoying yourself, don’t forget that you’re not allowed to drink alcohol until you’re at least twenty-one years old. If you choose to ignore this, an underage drinking charge won’t just ruin your spring break, it will also have a negative impact on your life over the next few years. It doesn’t matter if you’re pulled over for speeding or if the cops show up at a party, if your blood alcohol content is over .05 and you’re under twenty-one, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the law. For the record, a single beer is all it takes to put you over .05. The days when an underage drinking charge resulted in a difficult phone call to your parents and some community service time are long over. California lawmakers have decided to crack down on underage drinking during spring break. The first time you get caught drinking while you’re underage, the potential consequences are:
  • Serving 24-32 hours of community service
  • A $250 fine
  • Attending an alcohol education program
Yes, it’s only January and your 2020 tax return isn’t due until mid-April, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore that tax season is officially here. The last thing you want to do is wait until a few days before the deadline to file. Turning your thoughts to your tax return now and creating a plan to help you prepare them reduces a great deal of tax season stress. The key to keeping your stress levels low during tax season is creating a plan of attack. Create a list of specific tasks that need to be completed and determine when you’ll do them. You’ll be amazed how much a solid plan of attack smooths out the process of filing your 2020 tax return.

Gather Your Paperwork

Spend the second half of January and the first half of February gathering up all the paperwork you need to complete your 2020 tax return. The paperwork you need to have on hand before you’re ready to start preparing your tax return includes:
  • W2s
  • Documents that indicate itemized expenses such as child care, medical insurance, and educational costs
  • Any 1099s connected to freelance contractors you hired throughout the year
  • Donation receipts
  • Mortgage interest payment documents
  • An itemized list of business expenses (if relevant)
  • Investment statements
  • Receipts for any tax-deductible purchases you made throughout the year
Most Americans know that the First Amendment grants the right to free speech. The problem that many of us encounter is we don’t fully grasp the differences between free speech and slander.

What is Free Speech?

Many of us interpret the First Amendment to mean that we’re free to say whatever we want, to whomever we want, whenever we want. That’s not the way free speech works. The purpose of free speech is to provide Americans with the ability to openly speak against the government without fear of legal ramifications. What freedom of speech doesn’t do is allow you to say whatever you want about neighbors, family, and businesses you don’t like.

What is Slander?

The legal definition of slander is, “oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. Damages (payoff for worth) for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malicious intent, since such damages are usually difficult to specify and harder to prove. Some statements such as an untrue accusation of having committed a crime, having a loathsome disease, or being unable to perform one's occupation are treated as slander per se since the harm and malice are obvious, and therefore usually result in general and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed. Words spoken over the air on television or radio are treated as libel (written defamation) and not slander on the theory that broadcasting reaches a large audience as much if not more than printed publications.” In California, slander legally takes place when:
  • You say something that you know is untrue
  • When you make a statement that you know isn’t privileged
  • When you make a statement that is said with the intent to do harm or cause an injury

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