neighborhood watch laws in california

Getting Involved in Neighborhood Watch

neighborhood watch laws in california

Neighborhood Watch is becoming increasingly common in communities all over California, and it’s been a good thing. In most cases, the crime rate dropped significantly once the civilian program was put into place. Recent data released by the U.S Department of Justice reported that on the average, communities with an active an organized neighborhood watch had a 16% reduction in crime.

How Neighborhood Watch Programs Work

While it’s okay for a group of community members to decide they want to look over the community, it’s not okay for the watch program to use a vigilante justice approach to protecting the neighborhood. The programs are required to not only let local law enforcement agencies know that they’re forming a watch program, but to also accept the training programs the police offer. By the time the training has been completed, members of the neighborhood watch program should know how to identify signs of nefarious activity and how to respond to it. The most successful programs are the ones where the police and members of the community watch program work together to keep the neighborhood safe.

It’s important to note that if you aren’t working closely with the police and something goes wrong during neighborhood watch, you could find yourself facing both criminal and civil charges that have the potential to completely destroy your life.

Starting a Neighborhood Watch Program

If there is a good neighborhood watch program in your area, getting involved is pretty simple. Just speak to the people in charge of the program and they’ll help you get the training you require.

If your community doesn’t currently have a neighborhood watch program, you’ll need to speak to your neighbors and find out if they’re willing to become involved in a program that would help keep the neighborhood safe. If they are, the next step is speaking to the local sheriff who will help you start the program and make sure you get the training you need. It’s a good idea to spend some time with other neighborhood watch programs and observing how they recruit new members, work with law enforcement, and handle the ins and outs of keeping the program running smoothly.

Side Benefits of Neighborhood Watch Programs

One of the things that has really surprised people once they join a community crime prevention program is that not only do they feel safer, but that they also become more connected to the community. In many instances, it’s the first time that they meet many of their neighborhoods and start becoming friends. The establishment of neighborhood watch often leads to community activities such as picnics, casual sporting events, and cleanup programs.

eporting crimes in california

Do You Report Crimes?

reporting crimes in california

Most people are able to go through their days without having to worry about too much. They get to go through their day as normal without any interruptions. Unfortunately, there are times when that can’t happen for whatever reason. This is typically the result of some sort of emergency.

One such example of something like this would be if a person were to witness a crime happen. Actually witnessing a crime can be a very scary and shocking experience for any number of reasons. After the moment of the crime has passed, some people are left wondering what they should do. Do they call the police, or just pretend that they didn’t see anything? They often don’t know what to do because this is not something that people deal with on a regular basis.

Who to Report Crimes To

When people witness a crime being committed, they should report it to the local police or sheriff’s department. They will be able to handle the situation and bring the perpetrators to justice. If a crime is something very serious, a person may also want to consider reporting it to other appropriate agencies after alerting the police.

Unfortunately, many people will not report crimes because they feel like local law enforcement agencies either won’t help them, or decide that the case is too unimportant. This isn’t something that should stop a person from reporting a crime. If they need help, they should report it.

Is There a Legal Obligation?

Despite common belief, a person is not legally required to report crimes in most instances.

Some of the instances when a person has to report crimes in California are when certain professions, such as teachers, school administrators, and doctors, suspect that a child may be suffering from abuse. When a person reports cases like this, their information is legally required to be kept confidential.

Another time a person has to report a crime is when officers who are investigating a federal felony offense ask if the person knows anything about it. If a person doesn’t answer honestly, then they could face misprision of a felony, which is a form of obstruction of justice. However this, does not require a person to make a report of a crime after witnessing it.

What can get a person into trouble is if they knowingly helped a person hide from authorities after that person committed a crime. Doing this makes the person an accomplice and they could be charged with aiding and abetting a criminal.

An Anonymous Alternative

For those people who are afraid to report a crime to the police for fear of repercussions, either from the police themselves or the accused person, they can always report the crime anonymously. Most law enforcement agencies have places on their websites where a person can report crimes anonymously. This way, the crime can still be reported but the person doesn’t have to worry about any repercussions.
There are also hotlines and other websites that people can use to leave anonymous tips for crimes.

It is important to note that a person can try to remain anonymous when they dial 911, but many law enforcement agencies are able to track phone numbers.

There Is Nothing to Fear

Law enforcement officers do not go after people who report crimes, so a person should never feel afraid to report a crime. However, a person is not legally obligated to report any criminal activity that they may have witnessed. Only in certain instances are people legally required to report a crime to the proper authorities. So long as a person isn’t omitting information when being questioned by the police, or working in a profession that is required to report suspected cases of child abuse, they have nothing to fear.

By reporting a crime, a person will be able to clear their conscious and get back to their normal, daily routine.

whos responsible for drunk driver

Who is Legally Responsible for a Drunk Driver

whos responsible for drunk driver

Bar and restaurant owners already know that if one of their patrons leaves their establishment and injures someone in drunk driving accident, the owner could be facing serious financial repercussions in the form of a lawsuit. The idea is that the bar owner shouldn’t have over served the driver, and once they did, they should have taken the keys away.

Lately, many people have stated that the friends of people who turn into drunk drivers should also be responsible for the drunk driving accident, and therefore face financial and legal repercussions. The idea has gained a great deal of footing in Pennsylvania following a fatal drunk driving accident.

In the aftermath of the crash, many brought up the point that the drunk driver had passengers in his car and that these passengers knew that he was drunk. Many believe that while the passengers might not have been able to stop the drunk driver from getting behind the wheel, but they should have contacted the police, alerting them to the situation.

The concept is based on “Duty to Rescue” laws. These laws deal with the idea that if a person sees another person who is in danger, they should do whatever they can to help out. Failure to do so can result in legal action.

The simple truth is that it’s rare for no one to know that a person is too drunk to drive. Most people will even argue with the driver, trying to convince them to turn over their keys and sleep it off. When the driver refuses to hand the keys over, the bystanders usually simply hope that nothing bad happens. But should they be calling the police? Should they get into their own car, following the drunk driver, alerting the police to the driver’s exact location? Not only would this make it easier for the police to get the driver off the road but would also mean that someone else was on the scene if there was an accident.

The issue is a tricky one. While it’s one thing to say that someone has a moral obligation to report a drunk driver, it’s another to make it a law. The first problem is knowing how far to take the law. To be responsible, do you have to have a relationship with the drunk driver or is it enough to have simply been in the same bar as them? If they are in an accident, can the injured party’s insurance and loved ones go after you with the ferocity that they go after the driver? Or, what if you knew the driver was too drunk to get behind the wheel, but the slip out of the bar before while you’re in the bathroom and you don’t know what they drive or which direction they’re heading in? And what if you were drinking? That would mean your own judgement’s impaired, making it difficult to know just how drunk someone else is.

While there aren’t any laws on the books dealing with the topic of allowing someone else to drive drunk, it’s likely that this topic will be discussed a great deal in the upcoming years. The best way to make sure you don’t find yourself in legal trouble over the matter is by reporting drunk drivers, even if they’re a friend or family member.

dog bite laws california

California’s Hard Line Stance on Dog Bites

dog bite laws california

You love your dog and there’s no doubt in your mind that they love you. While your dog might normally be the happiest, friendliest, most laid back animal you’ve ever encountered, at the end of the day, they’re still a dog, and at the end of the day, that means they could bite someone.

Why Dog’s Bite

There are a few different reasons why a dog that’s never shown any sign of aggression might suddenly bite a house guest. These reasons include:

  • They feel threatened
  • They’re being harassed by the house guest
  • They’re in pain
  • They’re startled

California’s Stance on Dog Bites

While most states have a one free bite policy when it comes to dogs, California doesn’t. What this means is that if your beloved pet bites someone, no matter what the reason may be, the victim can file a lawsuit against you.

The good news is that there are some limitations. For example, a person can’t file a dog bite lawsuit if they weren’t actually bitten by your dog, even if your dog acted like they wanted to bite. It also makes a difference if the person was unlawfully on your private property.

Don’t assume that just because your dog didn’t break the skin when they bit someone, that it doesn’t count as a dog bite. It still does. There was even a case where a person was injured after they fell from a ladder. Since it was determined that the reason the victim fell was a dog biting their pants, the owners were required to pay the legal bills.

What Does Lawfully on Property Mean

Some dog owners have gotten confused by the idea of someone being on their property lawfully. What the term means is that if someone has a legal reason to be on your private property. In the case of delivery drivers, lawyers with legal papers, and the police who have a warrant, they have a legal reason for being there, which means that if they’re bitten by your dog, you’re responsible. The same is true for anyone you invite onto your property. What this boils down to is that the only ones who can’t sue you if your dog bites them is a person who is illegally trespassing on the property.

As much as you love your dog, when anyone is on your property, its in your best financial interest to keep the dog on a leash, reducing the odds of anyone getting bit.

consequences for stealing mail

How Bad Is Stealing Mail?

consequences for stealing mail

Even in today’s digital world, there is still a high demand for physical shipping. After all, how else would people be able to get something that they ordered online? This means that mail is still a pretty big deal, even if it may not seem like.

Something that at first seems like no big deal, but actually becomes pretty bad when looking deeper, is stealing someone else’s mail. At first, people might think it’s no big deal, since most of the mail they get is junk mail. However, that is not the case. A lot of important things are sent in envelopes from one person to another, which is why it is illegal to steal and/or open someone else’s mail.

What Gets Shipped?

A better question would be what doesn’t get shipped in today’s world? In the age of the internet and online retailers such as Amazon, people can buy just about whatever they want online. This means that whatever they purchased needs to be shipped as well. This leads to just about anything you can imagine being shipped by mail.

However, mail goes beyond material possessions. Think about all of the birthday and holiday cards that get shipped. Many of those often contain money or gift cards in them.

Another important thing that is shipped in the mail is people’s identities. Sensitive papers that can contain important information about a person, such as medical, legal, or financial documents. These bits of paper can contain social security numbers, and other private bits of information.

All of this is stuff that a person doesn’t want falling into the wrong hands, which is why it is a crime to steal someone’s mail at both the state and federal level.

What Is Considered Mail Theft?

Due to what can be found in mail, stealing it is a very serious offense. Add on to that the fact that the USPS is a federal agency, and the consequences become even more severe. Here in the state of California, the crime and its consequences are considered to be more closely related to identity theft than to actual theft. This isn’t to say that stealing a package from amazon is not as bad as stealing a letter from a bank. Both crimes will land a person in very serious trouble.

Stealing mail is defined as taking someone else’s mail from a mailbox, mail receptacle, post office, or mail carrier. It is also illegal to obtain mail by lying to or deceiving someone. Opening someone else’s mail and taking its contents without the addressed person’s consent is also illegal. Destroying stolen mail in an attempt to hide is illegal as well. Lastly, buying or receiving mail that a person knows to be stolen is illegal.

Basically, if a person’s name is not on the address, than they shouldn’t be taking or opening the mail without permission from the person who the letter or package is addressed to.

Penalties for Stealing Mail

Stealing someone else’s mail is a crime under California Penal Code 530.5 and 18 United States Code 1708.

Here in California, the theft of mail is considered a misdemeanor offense. This means that it can earn a person:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A fine no larger than $1,000.
  • Some combination of the above fine and jail time.

At the federal level, the consequences of stealing someone else’s mail are much more severe. If a person is charged with federal mail theft, they could face:

  • Up to 5 years in federal prison.
  • Fines up to $250,000.
  • Some combination of the above fine and prison time.

This is all just for the offense of stealing the mail. A person can also potentially be charged with breaking and entering or even identity theft. Both of these charges would have their penalties added onto those of the mail theft.

Stealing Mail Is a Big Deal

All in all, stealing mail is not a crime that is taken lightly. It may seem like stealing mail is no big deal, but that is not the case. If a person is caught stealing mail from anywhere, they will face criminal charges. Here in California, that means at both the state and federal level. This means that those penalties can add up quick. Basically, a person should never take someone else’s mail or packages. It is stealing, and will land a person behind bars.

types of crime charges

The 3 Different Levels of Crimes

types of crime charges

When it comes to breaking the law, most people know they shouldn’t do that because if they do, they will face consequences. However, while people may understand this concept pretty easily, what they may not realize is that there are varying levels when it comes to breaking the law. Different crimes earn different consequences. This is why people who speed receive different penalties than people who commit murder.

There are three different types of crimes, and they are:

  • Infractions – Infractions are the low level offenses. These include most traffic violations and other smaller offenses such as jaywalking. These crimes are only punishable by small fines. A person will not receive jail time for an infraction.
  • Misdemeanors – The middle level crimes are misdemeanors, and in the state of California, most crimes fall into this category. Some common misdemeanor crimes include petty theft, shoplifting, drunk in public, and drug possession. Misdemeanors are punishable by anywhere from 6 months to a year in jail, and/or a fine of no more than $1,000.
  • Felonies – Felony crimes are the worst of the worst. Some examples of felonies include rape, murder, and vehicular manslaughter. Since these are some of these worst crimes possible, they also receive the harshest penalties. A person accused of a felony faces more than a year in prison, and/or a fine no larger than $10,000.

Breaking the law is never a good idea, no matter what kind of penalties a person may face. Nobody wants to have to pay fines, or face possible incarceration. That is why most people choose to follow laws rather than break them.

car seat laws california

Did You Hear about This Change to Kids Car Seats?

car seat laws california

Any experienced parent will tell you that kids need different kinds of car seats at different ages. As the child grows, they need different styles of car seats until they are finally big enough to sit in the seat without any additional device. For a long time, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old. However, that has now changed.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendation and eliminated the age limit. Now they say that a child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they weigh over 40 pounds. The lead author of the updated rule said: “It’s best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This is still the safest way for children to ride.”

This change breaks a long held rule, largely due to the fact that manufactures of car seats are now making rear-facing seats that can support children up to 40 pounds. Since this is the best way for children to travel, the Academy changed the long standing rule.

According to the academy, using the right kinds of car seat for a child can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by 70%. That is not a number that should be ignored by parents. Furthermore, the Academy goes on to list when kids should be moved from one style of car seat to the next.

  • Rear-facing seat – Up to 40 pounds.
  • Safety seat with harnesses – Up to 65 pounds.
  • Belt positioning booster seat – Until the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Parents should follow these guidelines, as well as the recommendations in the car seat’s safety manual to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their child while driving.

preventing fires

No Butts about It

preventing fires

Every Californian knows that wildfires in the state are a pretty big deal. This is only reinforced by the fact that 2018 has been one of the worst years for wildfires in the state to date. This year, the Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest wildfire to ever burn across the state. The blaze scorched 459,123 acres, and is estimated to have burned hundreds of structures, uprooting the lives of many people.

This is the perfect reminder that we all need to do our part in preventing blazes like this from even starting. One such way to do that is by properly disposing of cigarettes finished. Throwing cigarette butts onto the ground or out of a car window is a fairly common practice. After all, just about everyone has seen cigarette butts lying discarded on the ground.

The problem with this, besides the fact that it is littering, is that these butts are often still lit when discarded. If one were to fall in to some paper or dry brush, they could easily spark a blaze. If you think this is too farfetched, think again. Dozens of fires are started around the world annually by discarded cigarette butts. It is a real problem that people need to be made aware of.

Properly disposing of used cigarettes can greatly reduce the risk of them starting a fire. Finished cigarette butts should be extinguished and placed in ashtrays. This way, they cannot fall into any sort of kindling and spark the next big blaze in California.

Wildfires are a big deal in this state, and every resident needs to do their part to keep California from burning up.

zero money down bail in san bernardino

Rescuing Someone from Jail Is Easy

zero money down bail in san bernardino

Learning that a close friend has been arrested can make it feel like the world is ending, but it isn’t. Your friend is not stuck in jail. You can help get him or her out by posting bail. The thought of this is intimidating to most people, because they do not know how bail works. Luckily, bail is a lot easier than people realize.

Despite what many people think, bailing someone out of jail can be easy, if you have the right team of people helping you. You want not only a team of friends and family members behind you, but a caring and professional bail agent as well. When the right people have your back, getting a friend out of jail is a piece of cake.

You can find the right bail agent to help you by contacting Penny Bail Bonds in San Bernardino. Our professional bail agents have years of training and experience behind them. They know exactly what they are doing. Our agents can answer any questions you might have, and guide you through bailing someone out of jail.

If you have friend and/or family members who are willing to help post bail, they can help by co-signing for the bail bond. If one of the co-signers meets one of the following requirements, then you all can qualify for a 20% discount of the price of the bail bond.

To get the discount, one of the co-signers needs to:

  • Be a member of the military.
  • Be a member of AARP.
  • Be a union member.
  • Be a homeowner.
  • Have a private attorney.

That’s all it takes to get a discount.

We make things even easier by allowing clients with approved credit to get a bail bond at 0% down. This gives our clients a chance to begin saving up for their first payment while still getting their loved one out of jail quickly.

When a client qualifies for 0% down, they basically get the first month of their payment plan free. Their loved one still gets out of jail that day, but they do not have to make a payment on the bail bond until a month later. This helps give our clients some time to save up some money, and even allows the person who was bailed out to help.

Let Penny Bail Bonds in San Bernardino show you how easy it is to bail a friend out of jail. With our help, you and your friend will be able to put this whole situation behind you in no time at all. In fact, we can have some clients out of jail in as little as 2 hours in some California counties. To get started with rescuing your friend, just talk to one of our bail agents.

Our agents can be reached at any time by calling 866-736-6977 or clicking Chat With Us now.

how to choose safe child care

Don’t Risk Your Child’s Safety

how to choose safe child care

Ask any parent what is the most important thing for them, and they will likely respond with their child’s safety. Pretty much all parents out there count their child’s well-being as the most important thing in the world. Despite this fact, there is a time when parents may throw their child’s safety to the wind, without them even realizing it.

When parents are hard pressed to be somewhere, they often look for someone to keep an eye on their kid. Sometimes this babysitter is a close friend or family member, other times it’s just a local babysitter. The idea of hiring a babysitter is to make it so that the child isn’t home alone and is kept safe.

Choosing a babysitter is a big deal when it isn’t someone you already know. There are some parents out there who don’t interview or screen potential sitters in any sort of way, which is risky. There have been far too many news stories out there of babysitters neglecting or abusing their charges. A parent cannot ignore this and needs to take the proper steps and precautions to ensure the safety of their child.

Hiring Someone Isn’t Easy

Most people do not hire other people on a daily basis which means that they really have no idea how to do it. Hiring someone can be very overwhelming if a person doesn’t know how to do it. When choosing a babysitter, a person is hiring someone to watch their kids. This should include a lot of questions and even an interview for each potential candidate.

Having an actual interview process will help ensure that a person gets the best possible babysitter for their family. It helps reduce the likelihood that a less than reliable babysitter will be hired, thereby ensuring the safety of the child.

Preparing for Interviews

Before a parent even starts conducting interviews, they should create a list for themselves. This list should contain certain qualities that they feel their sitter should have. This list can include things such as years of experience or CPR certified. Basically, this list contains whatever the parent wants their future babysitter to have.

Once that list is figured out, the parent can begin posting ads for a sitter along with the requirements they want. This will help filter some of the responses that will be received.

Since the hiring process is very serious business, a parent does not want to rush things. They should allow the ad to be up for several days, leaving ample time for candidates to respond to the listing. While the post is active, the parent can begin sifting through potential candidates for finalists who will get an actual interview. If for some reason one candidate doesn’t fit with the parent, they should send a simple no thank you message and move on with the process. No further explanation needs to be given.

Time for Interviews

After a few days, the parent can begin conducting phone interviews. This is the time when a parent should ask some of the more mundane questions, such as:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Birthday
  • Availability
  • Rates ( has a calculator to help determine rates here.)
  • References

Arguably, one of the most important parts of this interview is the availability. If the sitter is not available when the parent needs them, then there is no point in going further with the interview. The next most important question would be their expected rates. If they want more than the parent can afford, than there is no reason to meet with the candidate in person.

For any candidate who won’t be a good fit, the parent should let that person know they will be hiring another sitter either over the phone, or through the application where the ad was posted. This is the courteous thing to do.

For the candidates that the parent liked, they should let that person know that they will be contacting any references that they offered and will get back to the person in a few days. Next, the parent needs to contact the references. Doing this will give the parent an additional bit of information from someone who has worked with the sitter before. This can help finalize the decision for the parent.
Once the parent has contacted all the references, they will be able to make an informed decision when picking a sitter. Once they have reached a decision, they should let the sitter know, and notify any other remaining candidates that the position has been filled.

A Very Important Decision

Hiring a babysitter is a very important decision for a parent. Picking the wrong person can risk the safety of their child, which is something no parent wants to do. That is why they have to take hiring one seriously. After all, this is the person the parent is entrusting with their child’s well-being.