NEW LAWS IN CALIFORNIA FOR 2016
New criminal laws taking effect in 2016 largely continue the trend in California to restrict the power of government and to scale back punishment for drug offenders.
CHANGES TO DRUG LAWS
Prior to 2013, transportation of almost any drug for personal use, was considered a violation of the more serious offense of “transportation or sales” of a controlled substance. In 2013, the legislature changed the law requiring that the more serious transportation charge apply only when persons were transporting for purpose of sales. Starting in 2016, three drugs that were unchanged by the 2013 law, marijuana, PCP, and mushrooms, now are punishable with the transportation charge only if transported for sales.
There is now a “Bureau of Medical Marijuana” to license, regulate the “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, dispensing, distribution, and transportation” of medical marijuana.
Persons who successfully completed drug diversion or DEJ (P.C. 1000) after 1997, when the law started to require a guilty plea to participate in the program, can now apply under new Penal Code section 1203.43 to petition to withdraw their guilty plea, enter a not guilty plea and have the case dismissed.
CHANGES TO LAWS REGULATING THE POLICE
It is now officially NOT PROBABLE CAUSE TO DETAIN OR ARREST a citizen merely for video/audio recording or photographing police officers who are in public or when the citizen is in a place lawfully. (Amending Penal Code sections 148 and 69.) Also, Penal Code sections 135 and 141 were amended to make it a crime for a police officer to tamper with or destroy a digital image or video recording that could be evidence.
New Penal Code section 832.18 requires law enforcement agencies to adopt certain “best practices” regarding BODY CAMERAS and to establish polices and procedures prohibiting unauthorized use and distribution and governing retention periods.
CHANGES TO LAWS INVOLVING THE COURTS AND PROSECUTORS
Prosecutors who “deliberately and intentionally” withhold evidence helpful to defendants are now to be reported to the state bar. (Penal Code sec. 1424.5.)
Persons who want to do time instead of paying a fine now get credit toward a fine of $125 per day in jail instead of the old $30 per day.
Temporary gun violence restraining orders of up to 21 days can be ordered by a court, without notice, upon application by the police or an “immediate family member” if a the gun owner is shown to “pose a significant danger” of harm to himself or others in the near future. An “emergency” order can be obtained by the police by showing “reasonable cause” of danger, or by “an immediate family member” by showing a “substantial likelihood” of danger for the issuance of the 21 day orders. These restraining orders can be later extended to a year by evidence that is “clear and convincing.” (Penal Code secs. 1524, 2524.5, 18100, 18250; Welfare and Insts. Code sec. 8105.)
Lawyers selecting a jury can no longer consider a person’s ethnic group identification, age, genetic information, or disability, when deciding to dismiss a juror with a “peremptory challenge.” (Code Civ. Procedure sec. 231.5) Previously only “race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation” were prohibited reasons to excuse a juror.
IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES PILOT PROGRAM EXTENDED IN L.A. COUNTY
Los Angeles County is still one of 4 California counties that is part of the pilot program to force installation of ignition interlock devices as a pre-condition of driving after a DUI conviction.
LIMITATIONS TO PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE ENACTED
California joined a hand full of other states in enacting a law allowing physician assisted suicide in the last 6 months of life for terminally ill patients. Health and Safety section 443.17 added two new felonies. One makes forging a request for an aid-in-dying drug or destroying/hiding a rescission of a request for the drugs, a felony. A second felony law prohibits coercing a person to request or ingest an aid-in-dying drug.
In 2016, whether you're accused of wrongfully video recording a police encounter with a citizen, or the police used your intercepted communications to prosecute you, expert criminal defense is absolutely necessary when you go to court. Long Beach criminal defense attorney, Matthew Kaestner has over 30 years of criminal law experience. He is one of only three lawyers with offices in Long Beach certified by the State Bar of California as a specialist in criminal law. Mr. Kaestner is available to personally take your call. Call him directly at (562) 437-0200.