New California Criminal Laws which go into effect as of January 1, 2011

Posted By Attorney Robert Bernstein || 20-Dec-2010

Possession of Less Than an Ounce of Marijuana is Now an Infraction:  Under current California law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is charged as a criminal misdemeanor.  As of January 1, 2011, possession of less than an ounce will be considered an infraction, punishable by not more than a $100 fine.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Restrictions: Medical marijuana collectives may not operate within 600 feet of a school.

Grand Theft Dollar Amount Threshold:  The threshold amount, which was previously $400, will go up to $950.  Grand theft can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.  A felony grand theft conviction has a penalty of up to three years in state prison.  A misdemeanor grand theft conviction is punishable by up to one year in the county jail.

Infractions eligible for dismissal (expungement): The new law authorizes the court to expunge a former conviction for most infractions.  Previously, only misdemeanors and some felonies were available for expungement. Those applying to have their infractions dismissed are eligible one year from the date of conviction and, at the time of filing the petition, must not be on active probation or facing any other open cases.

Restitution for Identity Theft Victims To Include Credit Repair and Credit Monitoring: In addition to existing punishments and restitution requirements, people convicted of identity theft will now also be responsible for the costs to repair and monitor the victim's credit report for as long as it is "reasonably necessary to make the victim whole."

New Law for Child Abuse Cases:  Caregivers who abuse young children in a way that causes serious injury, such as coma or paralysis, will now face up to life in prison.

Motorcycle Theft Tools: This law defines a new misdemeanor that is committed when a person possesses, gives or lends a tool or device with the specific intent or knowledge that it will be used to facilitate the theft of a motorcycle.  These tools and devices include, but are not limited to, bolt cutters, electrical tape, wire strippers, allen wrenches or any device designed to bypass the factory-installed ignition of a motorcycle in order to start the engine of a motorcycle without a manufacturer's key. A conviction of this crime is punishable by up to six months in the county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000.

Ammunition Sales Restrictions: Beginning February 1, 2011, no firearm ammunition vendor shall sell, offer or display for sale, any ammunition in a manner that allows that ammunition to be accessible to a purchaser without the assistance of the vendor or an employee thereof.  Ammunition sales may only occur in face-to-face transactions.  The vendor is responsible for obtaining a thumbprint from the buyer as well as verifying the identity of the buyer with a driver's license or other official ID.  Failure to comply with the new law is a misdemeanor.  

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