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About Robin Sandoval

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Robin Sandoval is a California Licensed Bail Bondsman and owner of SCV Bail Bonds. Robin writes blogs and articles to help increase community awareness of the bail industry. If you have questions or want to suggest a topic, email robin@scvbailbonds.com, visit www.scvbailbonds.com or call 661-299-2245.

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California Penal Code 422 PC Criminal Threats

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 23, 2018

Two suspects were arrested in Canyon Country in a neighborhood near the intersection of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads last month after a short pursuit by Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station deputies. It’s believed that the principal suspect in the case, a male, entered a business near the same intersection and proceeded to make threats while attempting to shoplift. The second suspect, a female, is believed to have acted as an accessory after the fact when she attempted to act as a getaway driver at some point during the incident.

Threatening someone isn’t a good idea, but it’s not necessarily illegal either. To be charged with making criminal threats, certain criteria must be met while making them. One must threaten to kill or physically harm someone and all of the following:

  • The person is put into a place of reasonably sustained fear for their safety or that of their family
  • The threat is specific and unequivocal23One communicates the threat verbally, in writing, or via some electronic device

For example, claiming to shoot someone while holding a gun, or indicating that you have a gun, would qualify as a criminal threat because it fits all three of the listed criteria. Alternatively, holding a gun and telling someone they “had better watch out” may not result in charges because the threat is implied as opposed to being “specific and unequivocal.”

Interestingly, one can be charged with making criminal threats even when they are physically unable to carry out the threat, or if they never intended to carry it out at all. The key result, then, is putting someone in a state of actual fear by making the threat.

California Penal Code 422 PC can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor convictions carry the possible penalties of a $1,000 fine and/or up to one year in county jail. Felony convictions can result in up to three years in California state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Additionally, if someone makes threats against more than one person, on more than one occasion, or pursuant to different objectives, the defendant can face charges for each threat they communicate.

Penal Code 350 PC Counterfeiting Marks

| Police Blotter | April 19, 2018

A recent bust that took place in downtown Los Angeles’ fashion district netted over $700,000 worth of phony cosmetics. The fraudulent products included popular brands like MAC, NARS and Urban Decay. The worst part about the counterfeit products wasn’t that consumers were being ripped off, but the fact that after testing, all of the products were found to contain lead, bacteria, and traces of animal feces. Authorities were first tipped off when consumers complained of rashes and other irritations of the skin after using the fake eyeliner, lipstick, and eye shadow.

According to authorities, the counterfeit products looked almost identical to authentic ones, though the cheap prices should have raised red flags with consumers.

Counterfeiting of merchandise, like makeup, falls under California Penal Code 350 PC. The law makes it illegal to sell, manufacture, or possess for sale, any counterfeit “mark.” A counterfeit “mark” refers to any fake trademark/brand that is identical to, or confusingly similar to, a mark that is registered with the U.S. Trademark Office or the California Secretary of State. The description provides for those who would, in an attempt to sneak past the law, slightly alter a company logo. They attempt to either pass a counterfeit product off as an authentic one by directly telling shoppers the product is genuine, or by hoping that the slight difference in marks goes unnoticed by the buyer.

Simply possessing knock-off goods isn’t enough to get one arrested, nor is buying them. In order to be charged with violating Penal Code 350 PC, one must knowingly possess the counterfeit marks with the intent of selling the items.

The penalties under PC 350 will depend on the value of the counterfeit goods involved, as well as their number. If fewer than 1,000 counterfeit items are involved, and the goods have a total fair market retail value of less than $950, the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor. The possible penalties for misdemeanor convictions include misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for individuals or $200,000 for companies. However, if the total number of counterfeit marks exceeds 1,000, or if the fair market value of the goods is $950 or greater, the crime becomes a «wobbler» that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted on felony charges, defendants face the penalties of formal probation, 16 months to three years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500,000 for individuals or $1,000,000 for companies. Additionally, when convicted of violating California Penal Code 350 PC, the court will order the asset forfeiture of all counterfeit marks and the goods that bear them, the machines and/or materials used to manufacture the counterfeit marks, and any vehicles used to transport them.

Last, if in selling or manufacturing counterfeit marks a person was killed or suffered great bodily injury, the charge is always a felony and the potential jail sentence is increased to 2 to 4 years in county jail.

PC 166 – Contempt of Court

| Police Blotter | April 12, 2018

California Penal Code 166 PC outlines the punishments for being in “contempt of court.” Those who are charged with violating PC 166 are usually people who perform behaviors that are considered disrespectful to the court process, including:

Inappropriately interrupting court proceedings by being excessively loud, engaging in disrespectful or disorderly conduct, or other behaviors considered to be disruptive
Willfully disobeying a lawfully issued court order
Refusing to perform your duties as a witness when in situations where you have no legal right to do so
Publishing extremely inaccurate or false accounts of court proceedings
Willfully and knowingly violating a protective or stay-away court order (also known as a restraining order) which involves domestic violence, elder abuse, or adult dependent abuse

You’ve probably seen fictional depictions of the first item on this list on television and in movies; it’s a fairly common courtroom trope. Being charged with contempt of court for being disruptive isn’t nearly as common in real life as it is on TV. Usually when someone is charged with contempt of court, it’s because they violated a court order, such as the terms of their probation. Technically, when someone violates their probation, they’re engaging in the willful disobedience of a court order, however they’re charged separately in a California probation violation hearing.

Aside from probation violations, in order to be convicted of having violated a court order, a few things have to be proven: the judge must have issued a legal order, you must have known about the order and had the ability to comply with it but willfully chosen not to do so. For example, suppose a judge grants a restraining order to the victim of domestic violence that stipulates that his/her former partner must completely avoid contact with the victim. It isn’t too difficult because they live far enough away from each other that accidentally meeting up socially isn’t likely. Despite this, the person who must refrain from initiating contact calls the victim on the phone every day. Since they willfully chose not to heed the judge’s order, it’s possible that the perpetrator will be charged with contempt of court.

Most violations of contempt of court are misdemeanors, and are punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in county jail. However, there are a few exceptions with harsher sentences. The individual in the example outlined above, who has a restraining order for committing domestic violence, could face up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000 if convicted of a misdemeanor. However, if the charge is increased to the felony level, the suspect faces a maximum fine of up to $10,000 and 16 months to three years in California state prison.

Tips for Preventing the Dangers of Online Dating

| Police Blotter | April 6, 2018

Law enforcement, as well as a woman who was allegedly victimized by an ex-contestant of “Millionaire Matchmaker,” are asking potential victims to come forward and tell their stories.

According to the alleged victim’s story, she had been communicating with the suspect over a dating website for two months in 2015 before they finally decided to meet up in person. Once they met, the victim allegedly endured physical and sexual assaults and abuse at the hands of the suspect, and was deeply traumatized as a result.

She claims that the severe emotional damage she incurred during her time with the suspect has lead to losing her job, her home, her friends, and has caused her to develop severe social phobias.

The suspect is about to go to trial on charges related to drugging and raping three other women in 2014 and 2015. Those charges include sexual penetration by a foreign object, attempted sodomy by use of force, forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, rape by use of drugs, rape of an unconscious person and administering a drug to commit rape.

This story, and others like it, are an all-too-common occurrence when it comes to online dating. Most people don’t have ill intentions, but others can be quite the opposite. Below are a few precautions you should take into consideration if you ever decide to meet someone in person who you previously met online:

Tip #1: Always meet in a public place. Never, ever go directly to someone’s home, and always meet somewhere in which there will be a lot of other foot traffic. A restaurant, the mall, anywhere that you’ll both be seen and heard. If the person to whom you’re speaking doesn’t want to meet in a public space and instead prefers to meet somewhere private, you may want to rethink meeting with them at all.

Tip #2: Tell someone where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and when you expect to be home. Ensure that your friend or family member also has the contact and identifying info of the person you’re dating (name, phone number, address, etc.). If your plans change mid-date, be sure to update whoever it is you’ve been contacting.
Tip #3: Drive yourself to the date, and drive yourself home. You don’t want to be at anyone else’s mercy as to when you can leave or return home. If you’re getting bad vibes for any reason, you can always leave.

Tip #4: Don’t drink. Alcohol weakens your inhibitions, and you may do things while under the influence of alcohol that you wouldn’t do sober.  If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll want to have your wits about you. If things go well on subsequent dates, you can choose whether or not you wish to consume alcohol then.

Above all, the most important thing to remember is that you are in control. You don’t owe your prospective date anything, regardless of whether they’re paying or not. If for whatever reason you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to get up and leave.

California Penal Code 243 (b) and (c) PC Battery on a Peace Officer

| Police Blotter | March 29, 2018

Recently a man was arrested outside the Chase Bank on The Old Road after he got into a physical altercation with a Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station deputy. According to reports, the man had been loitering behind the bank throughout the day and was reported several times. When a deputy showed up and tried to see what was going on, the suspect refused to answer questions and “a little altercation” ensued. Nobody appeared to be injured during the scuffle, and while an ambulance was called to the scene, no one was transported to the hospital.

When someone gets into a fight or another type of physical altercation with the police, it’s possible to be arrested and charged with violating California Penal Code 243(b) or (c) PC – battery on a peace/police officer. This law makes it illegal to willfully and unlawfully touch a police officer, as well as other protected officials, in a harmful or offensive manner while he or she is engaged in their duties. The other protected officials include, but are not limited to, custodial officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, process servers, probation department employees and doctors and nurses providing emergency care.

The spirit of PC 243 is to allow the protected individuals to conduct their duties unhindered by bystanders or others who may want to obstruct what’s going on. As such, one can only be charged with violating PC 243 if they are alleged to have committed battery on someone while that person was in the process of performing his or her duties. For example, suppose someone gets into a physical altercation outside of a bar with another individual who happens to be an off-duty EMT. The person who committed battery will not be charged with violating PC 243 because the EMT was not in the middle of performing their duties. However, it is still possible to be charged with another crime, such as simple battery (242 PC).

Violations of California Penal Code 243(b) – battery on a peace/police officer – are misdemeanors. The possible penalties include misdemeanor probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. However, if the battery results in injury, the charge can be increased to felony battery on a peace/police officer under California Penal Code 243(c). Under the law, an “injury” is described as any physical injury that requires professional medical treatment. If convicted of felony-level charges, the possible penalties include felony probation, 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Various Types of Theft Charges

| Police Blotter | March 22, 2018

Recently, a Los Angeles man was arrested and charged with dozens of felony counts of grand theft, forgery, and identity theft after a nine-year white-collar crime spree. According to authorities, R. Gutierrez and W. Rodriguez prepared fraudulent structural engineering plans, reports, and other relevant documents using the name of Palos Verdes Engineering Co. – a legitimate engineering firm – in order to dupe people into believing that the documents had been reviewed and approved by an actual licensed civil engineer. They are alleged to have perpetrated their scheme from 2003 to 2014, and it’s believed that there are more than 735 victims.

Grand theft is covered under California Penal Code 487 PC and described as the unlawful taking of someone’s property that is valued over $950. In California, grand theft can be carried out in a number of ways:

  • Grand theft by larceny – The most prominent type, grand theft by larceny is when someone physically carries off someone else’s property.
  • Grand theft by false pretenses – Theft by false pretense occurs when someone knowingly and intentionally deceives another (usually by lying) in an attempt to persuade the person to let the thief take possession of the victim’s property.
  • Grand theft by trick – It involves obtaining property owned by someone else using fraud or deceit.
  • Grand theft by embezzlement – It is defined as fraudulently using property that you were entrusted with by the owner for your own gain.

Grand theft is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor charges include up to one year in county jail. Felony charges include felony probation with up to one year in county jail.

Forgery is covered under California Penal Code 470 PC and is described as knowingly signing someone else’s name, faking a seal or someone else’s handwriting, changing or falsifying any legal document, and faking, altering or presenting as genuine any document pertaining to money, finances or property. Misdemeanor charges for forgery carry the possible penalties of up to one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, restitution and informal probation. Felony charges for forgery include 16 months to three years in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, informal or formal probation, and payment of restitution to any victims.

Finally, California Penal Code 530.5 PC covers identity theft. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, and can be charged in a wide variety of circumstances. The legal definition essentially states that identity theft is the unlawful or fraudulent use of another person’s identifying information. Like the preceding crimes, identity theft is a “wobbler.” Misdemeanor charges include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Felony penalties include 16 months to three years in county jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

Unfortunately for the many alleged victims, since neither defendant was a licensed, professional civil engineer, many of the structures built to their specifications may be unsafe and need to be rebuilt.

California Penal Code 32 PC Accessory After the Fact

| Police Blotter | March 15, 2018

Under California law, there are two parties to a crime: principals and accessories. A principal is someone who participates in the crime either before or during its commission, while an accessory is someone who helps the perpetrator of the crime after it’s been committed by aiding in their escape from arrest, trial, conviction or punishment. For example, suppose two individuals intend to burglarize the storage room of someone they know. One person obtains a copy of the key to the storage room and hands it off to the second person, who does the actual burglarizing. Afterward, the person who robbed the storage room is given a place to hide out by a third person who had nothing to do with the initial crime. The first two individuals, those involved in the commission of the burglary, would be considered principals while the third person would be considered an accessory after the fact.

An individual can be charged with being an accessory after the fact under a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Lying to the police to conceal a suspect’s whereabouts
  • Concealing the perpetrator themselves
  • Helping the perpetrator flee the scene of the crime
  • Destroying/concealing physical evidence

Simply providing some form of assistance to the perpetrator of a crime is not necessarily in-and-of-itself enough to have someone charged with violating Penal Code 32 PC and thus becoming an accessory after the fact. It’s imperative that the would-be accessory knows that the perpetrator committed a felony, and that their actions are assisting the perpetrator in escaping arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment. Destroying evidence in a crime that one doesn’t know happened, giving a friend a place to stay, or any other action that would lead one to be considered an accessory, doesn’t count under certain conditions. It does not apply if the person doing the assisting isn’t aware that the person they’re helping committed a felony or that the actions they’re undertaking are helping them elude justice. Additionally, if someone is put under duress and pressured or coerced into acting as an accessory after the fact, even if they know a felony has been committed, it’s possible to avoid charges.

Acting as an accessory is less severe than actually committing the felony, and the potential punishments reflect this. Acting as an accessory is a “wobbler,” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor penalties include a $5,000 fine and up to one year in county jail, while felony penalties include 16 months to 3 years in California state prison.

CA Penal Code 246.3 PC Negligent Use of a BB or Pellet Gun

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 14, 2018

by Robin Sandoval

On the afternoon of February 1, a call was made to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station reporting an incident of road rage near the 14 in Canyon Country. The caller reported that the suspect followed a vehicle off of the 14 and engaged in a verbal dispute on the side of the road. During the dispute, the suspect allegedly pulled a gun, which was later discovered to be a BB gun, on the victim. Nobody was injured during the incident and one person was arrested on Silver Oak Lane in Canyon Country.

Under California Law, guns that fire BBs (ball-bearings) or pellets aren’t regarded in the same way as traditional, bullet-firing guns due to the way in which the projectiles are fired. BB and pellet guns are powered by air or CO2 canisters and, as a result, are far weaker and therefore not regarded as “firearms.” They are, however, extremely dangerous when used negligently and included in many of California’s firearm laws. California Penal Code 246.3 PC, for example, makes the negligent discharge of a BB or pellet gun illegal. Additionally, firing a BB or pellet gun at another person will undoubtedly result in, at the very least, assault and/or battery charges, and possibly assault with a deadly weapon.

BB and pellet guns are perhaps most dangerous because they are often indistinguishable from actual firearms from far away. If a police officer, sheriff’s deputy or other law enforcement personnel see someone wielding one of these weapons, they’re going to treat it as though it’s an actual firearm – which is most often the case anyway. Anyone who owns a BB or pellet gun should take care to use it only in lawful and careful ways, because the potential consequences of misuse are serious.

If you have questions about any Canyon Country bail related subject, or if you want to suggest a topic, visit Robin at Santaclaritabond.com or call 661-299-BOND(2663).

The JUUL – A New and Secretive Way for Kids to Vape

| Police Blotter | March 9, 2018

A recent trend in vaping has been making its way into schools around the country. Known as the “JUUL,” this e-cigarette has the size and shape of an unassuming flash drive, making it easy for children to get past their parents by hiding it among their school supplies. The vapor from these devices makes it easy for teens to use them just about anywhere; the cloud of smoke exhaled by users lacks the tell-tale stench of traditional nicotine smoke, replacing it with sweeter scents like cherry and vanilla. According to recent surveys, e-cigarettes have replaced traditional cigarettes as the go-to smoking device, thanks to their ease of use.

The JUUL was developed for smokers of both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes who would prefer to have something smaller, sleeker, and easier to carry around than a pack of smokes or a clunky e-cig. JUULs are small, slender, and provide smokers with a nicotine-containing vapor via small “JUUL pods” that, according to the company, “contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.” The devices themselves are relatively simple, using the internal battery to heat a liquid that contains nicotine into a vapor that is then inhaled by the user. The device itself can easily be recharged in a computer’s USB port.

The purpose of the JUUL is like that of any other e-cigarette company, to provide smokes with an alternative to cigarettes that’s safer for the user and the people around them. While some studies have been done showing that e-cigarettes are safer in some ways than traditional cigarettes, they haven’t been around long enough for long-term studies to discern their effects over the course of one’s life. It’s entirely possible that the vapor from e-cigarettes ends up being harmless; however, the opposite could also prove true in time. It’s generally wise not to inhale anything other than fresh, clean air (or as clean as one can get in the Los Angeles area), because human lungs didn’t evolve to scrub modern chemicals from the bloodstream or from the lungs themselves.

While e-cigarettes like the JUUL aren’t meant for anyone under the legal age, teens tend to get their hands on them, nonetheless, and easily become addicted to nicotine through repeated use. An addiction to nicotine is a powerful one, and it’s very difficult to quit – just ask smokers. The fact that the JUUL and other e-cigarettes offer a quick, easy fix that’s difficult to identify by parents and educators makes their use even more problematic. Where cigarette smoke can be smelled from several yards away through ventilation systems, under doors, and through open windows, e-cigarette vapor clouds are nowhere near as pungent, and often mimic the scent of body sprays used by teen girls.

If you’re worried about your teen getting their hands on an e-cigarette like the JUUL, and subsequently becoming addicted, the best thing to do is to talk to them. Peer pressure is huge among young people, and coupled with the desire to fit in, some kids can end up addicted without ever purchasing a device themselves. Explain to them the nature of addiction and the health risks that come from nicotine exposure. You can’t be around your child 24/7, but educating them against the use of products like this can help ensure you don’t need to be.

California Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC Revenge Porn, a Serious Subject

| Police Blotter | March 1, 2018

Model and entrepreneur Blac Chyna has recently acknowledged that she’s likely going to file a police report after discovering that a sex tape of her and ex-boyfriend Mechie was leaked online. This is the second time in 8 months that Blac Chyna has been the alleged victim of revenge porn after Rob Kardashian famously posted explicit photos of her to Instagram without her consent. Regarding the recent incident, a representative for Mechie confirmed that it was him in the video, and that while Mechie did film the video, he was not the one who posted it.

California Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC covers nonconsensual pornography aka “revenge porn.” It has been so named because videos and/or pictures are often released by jilted lovers looking to “get back” at someone they feel wronged them somehow. The legal definition of 647(j)(4) PC is:

  • Possessing an image of an intimate body part of another identifiable person, or an image of that person engaged in sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation or masturbation
    Intentionally distributing that image
  • There was an understanding between the people in the image that it would not be made public and remain private
  • You know or should know that the release of the image would cause the person in it serious emotional distress and
  • The person in the image suffers serious emotional distress

In order for someone to “intentionally distribute” an image, they don’t have to distribute the image personally; they can also arrange, specifically request, or intentionally cause another person to distribute the image.

The law specifies that an individual is not guilty of violating 647(j)(4) PC when they distribute an image:

  • In the course of reporting unlawful activity
  • In compliance with a subpoena or other order for use in legal proceedings or
  • In the course of lawful public proceeding

Revenge porn is a misdemeanor under California law, but no less serious an offense. The penalties for a conviction include misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For repeat-offenders, the penalties increase to up to one year in county jail and a possible fine of $2,000.

Revenge porn is a serious crime, and has been responsible for severe emotional distress – including suicide – on more than one occasion. While the penalty for violating 647(j)(4) PC is a misdemeanor, it’s possible to be charged with additional (and more serious) crimes, depending on what happens as a result of distributing the image(s).

California Penal Code 368 PC: Elder Abuse

| Police Blotter | February 22, 2018

Last week on Thursday, LAPD officers and Adult Protective Services responded to the home of Stan Lee to investigate allegations of elder abuse. There aren’t many details available surrounding the incident, but it’s believed that Lee’s bodyguard, Max Anderson, was repeatedly asked to leave by both Lee and his daughter, but would not comply. Once the police showed up, Anderson left without incident. Lee has since hired 24/7 security to monitor his home.

California Penal Code 368 PC covers elder abuse laws, which encompass a variety of crimes. Generally, elder abuse is defined under the law as victimizing someone age 65 or older with the following:

Physical abuse (the unjustifiable infliction of pain or injury)
Emotional abuse (such as mental suffering through isolation or ridicule)
Neglect and endangerment (willfully placing a senior in a situation where the individual’s health is endangered)
Financial exploitation

Elder abuse has been on the rise for a while now, due in part to the aging population of the U.S. It’s been estimated that one in seven seniors in the U.S. has been the victim of elder abuse. Most of those in the state of California who are charged with elder abuse are either the victim’s family members or hired caregivers.

Elder abuse laws in California were first addressed in 1982 when the legislature acknowledged the “dependent status” of senior citizens. In many cases, the elderly are dependent on others to meet their daily needs because of their age. Seniors, as opposed to younger generations, are more likely to be on medications, become confused, or be limited in ability. It wasn’t until 1983 when the legislature enacted Penal Code 368 PC after a request by the Santa Ana Police Department. The law protected seniors who held a dependent status.

In 1986, the law was changed to include all elders, not just those who are deemed to be dependent. Today, the law protects everyone over the age of 65, regardless of their dependent status.

The misdemeanor penalties for violating 368 PC include informal probation, up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $6,000 (or $10,000 for a second offense), restitution and/or counseling. For felonies, the penalties include formal probation, 2-4 years in California state prison and an additional 3-7 years if the victim suffers great bodily injury or death, up to $10,000 in fines, restitution and/or counseling.

Brandishing or Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public or Outside of Your Home CA Penal Code 25850 and 417 PC

| Police Blotter | February 15, 2018

In the early morning hours of Thursday, February 8, a suspected gas thief got a little more than he bargained for when trying to steal the fuel from a vehicle in Yucaipa. Everything began when the would-be victims, Armando and his wife Laura Gaitan, were alerted by their security system that someone was outside their home. Thinking they were being robbed, the Gaitans grabbed their guns from the safe and went outside to confront the trespasser. Once outside, they spotted a man near their vehicle who appeared to be trying to siphon gasoline. After an exchange, during which the suspect denied he was trying to steal their gas, the suspect took off into the night. He apparently left his girlfriend and their dog in the vehicle parked near the scene. The girlfriend was arrested, but no news has been reported as to the status of the dog.

While it may not initially appear so, what the Gaitans did is technically against the law. It’s a crime to bring your gun outside for the sole purpose of protecting your property. According to California Penal Code 25850 PC, it’s illegal to carry a loaded firearm in public. A “loaded firearm” is defined as any firearm that has an unexpended cartridge or shell attached in any way to the firearm – including in the chamber or magazine. According to 25850 PC, one doesn’t need to actually be holding the loaded firearm to be charged with the crime. The only legal way to carry a loaded firearm in a public place is if it is locked in your vehicle’s trunk or in another locked container.

Another crime that could be charged in situations like the one described above is California Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon. Under this law, it’s illegal to “draw, exhibit, or use a firearm or other deadly weapon.” Prosecutors typically charge this when the brandishing happens in a way that is “rude, angry or threatening.” It isn’t necessary that you intend to injure anyone with the weapon, or even that they see it. Committing this crime occurs when a weapon is brandished in a way that is, as described, “rude, angry or threatening.”

Penal Code 417 PC can be charged as a misdemeanor, a felony, or a “wobbler.” A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by three months to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. A “wobbler” is punishable by three months to 1 year in jail if charged as a misdemeanor OR, if charged as a felony, 16 months to three years in California state prison. PC 417 is usually charged as a straight felony when the weapon is brandished with the intent of resisting or preventing an arrest. The punishments include 2-4 years in California state prison.

According to a legal expert, it’s unlikely the Gaitans will face prosecution because nobody was hurt while they wielded their guns outside.

Possession of Concealed Butterfly Knives and Other Dirks and Daggers

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 13, 2018

Last month, deputies were patrolling an area of Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country when they spotted a man who appeared to be riding his bicycle under the influence. Upon stopping and searching the man, deputies discovered that he was, in fact, under the influence of a drug and had in his possession prescription medication for which he did not have a prescription, counterfeit currency, and a butterfly knife. He was arrested and taken to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station and held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Butterfly knives are relatively common weapons found on the streets, the possession of which can sometimes be charged as a felony. However, they aren’t the only controlled knives in the state of California. Others include:

  • Air Gauge Knife – a device that appears to be an air gauge but has concealed within it a piece of metal with a sharp point used for stabbing that can be extended via gravity or by mechanical means.
  • Ballistic Knife – a knife with a detachable blade that can be fired by pressing a button or trigger on the knife’s handle. They commonly use a spring system to fire the blade, but it’s possible to find some which use compressed air or a gas propulsion system. Those that use the latter systems are more powerful than those that employ springs to fire the blade.
  • Belt Buckle Knife – a knife disguised as part of a belt buckle that can be used to deceive others into believing the wielder doesn’t have a weapon.
  • Lipstick Knife – similar to a belt buckle knife, it is disguised to look like a tube of lipstick, but when the cap is opened a small, hidden blade is revealed.
  • Writing Pen Knife – like the two types of knives listed above, it is a knife hidden within an ink pen.
  • Switchblades – this category includes butterfly knives. Any switchblade weapon that has a blade longer than 2 inches is illegal in California.
  • Concealed Dirks and Daggers – if you’re going to go out dragon slaying, know that it’s illegal to conceal your daggers and dirks from law enforcement. However, they can be openly carried in most cases, provided they are not taken to areas where carrying weapons is illegal (schools, government buildings, etc.).

Typically, possession of a switchblade is charged as a misdemeanor with the possible penalties including up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If the weapon is stored with the blade open, the charges could change and be upgraded to a felony.

Understanding the Health and Safety Code 11379 HS – Transportation of Methamphetamine

| Police Blotter | February 8, 2018

LAPD officers conducted a routine traffic stop at about 6:30 p.m. last Saturday in the Angelino Heights area. According to officers, the driver “appeared to be nervous” during the stop, and so the officers decided to conduct a search of the vehicle. In the back seat, they discovered a garbage bag filled with what appeared to be 14 foil-wrapped burritos. Upon closer inspection, however, the “burritos” were actually filled with methamphetamine; 25 lbs. of it. The driver was arrested on suspicion of the transportation of methamphetamine. During the search, officers also discovered a handgun.

The transportation of methamphetamine in California is covered under Health and Safety Code 11379 HS. The law specifically prohibits the transportation and/or sale of stimulants and other non-narcotic drugs, which includes methamphetamine as well as GHB (a common date-rape drug), Ketamine, and certain anabolic steroids. In order to be charged with violating HS 11379, one needn’t sell or transport methamphetamine via traditional methods. The prohibited means include:

Selling/exchanging for money, services, or anything else of value
Transporting from one location to another with the intent to sell it
Give it away or provide it to others
Administer the drug to someone else
Simply offering or attempting to perform any of the above

It’s possible to be charged with the transportation of methamphetamine even if the person doing the transporting never handled the drug itself. What counts is that the individual had control over the drug somehow, whether the drug was in their immediate possession or whether they had control over it via another individual.

Violations of Health and Safety Code 11379 HS are charged as felonies. According to the 2018 Los Angeles County Bail Schedule, bail for charges of violating 11379 HS amounts to $50,000.

When someone is convicted, they face between two and four years in jail, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. However, the sentence could be greatly enhanced if the defendant is found to have transported the drug over two or more county lines. When this occurs, the possible jail sentence increases to 3, 6 or 9 years. Last, if the weight of methamphetamine that was transported or sold is more than one kilogram (25 lbs. is a little over 11 kilograms), the defendant faces an additional three to fifteen years in prison.

Violating the Conditions of One’s Bail

| Police Blotter | February 1, 2018

Marilyn Hartman, a.k.a. the “serial stowaway” has once again been arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing on state land and violation of the terms of her bail. Note that this incident is the second time she’s been in the news recently for similar offenses. Hartman has a long history of sneaking onto airplanes that spans decades, and her most recent (up until Sunday’s) arrest was on January 14 when she was arrested in London after she sneaked past security and onto a London-bound International flight at O’Hare.

On the afternoon of Sunday, January 28, Hartman attended a court appointment where her bail for her trespassing charge was set at $50,000 and it was ordered that she wear a monitoring device. On her charge of violating the conditions of her bail, no bail bond was given. She is scheduled to reappear in court to face charges on January 31.

Generally, a person who is arrested and taken into custody has the right to release on bail. Their freedom can then be obtained via paying the full bail amount (cash bail), putting up a piece of property in lieu of cash (property bond), or working with a bail bondsman to get them out of jail (bail bond). Alternatively, for relatively minor crimes, it’s possible that a judge will release them on their Own Recognizance – otherwise known as O.R.— provided that the defendant promises to return to court at the appointed date and time.

Once a defendant is released from custody, whether on bail or O.R., judges often set conditions which the defendant must abide by in order to remain out of police custody pending their court date(s). Bail conditions can include, but are not limited to:

Obeying all laws
Compliance with travel restrictions
Not possessing any firearms or other weapons
Refraining from the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs
Avoiding certain places or people

Not every defendant will necessarily have the same conditions set upon their release. When conditions are set, they’re designed to ensure that the defendant returns to court at the appointed date and time and/or to protect the community. A judge will have a great deal of freedom to decide which, if any, conditions are necessary to ensure that the two primary objectives are met.

In deciding which conditions to set, a judge will take into account:

The defendant’s criminal history
Their physical and mental condition
The seriousness of their crime
Likelihood of flight (skipping bail)
Their history of drug abuse (if any)

Provided that the defendant adheres to all of the conditions set by the judge, they’ll remain free from custody before and during their court proceedings. However, when the defendant violates the conditions of their bail, the consequences can be severe. Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, it’s possible that the judge issues the defendant a warning and they are allowed to remain out on bail. However, in the majority of cases, once the conditions of bail have been violated, the defendant will either be returned to custody with an even higher bail amount set for their release (with the original payment being forfeited to the courts) or their bail will be revoked altogether, as is the most recent case with Marilyn Hartman.

New Tech Features Make Recovering Stolen Gadgets Easier

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 31, 2018

On the Saturday before Christmas, a Canyon Country man approached his vehicle to discover that several items, including his tablet, had been stolen from inside. Typically, occurrences like these result in an unhappy ending for the victims, as it can be exceedingly difficult to track down the suspected perpetrator or get the stolen items back. This was not a typical occurrence.

The stolen tablet was equipped with a tracking feature that allows the owner to locate the device from a smartphone — which the victim quickly did.

The tracking software led the victim to a home on Rock Rose Lane where, upon inspection, he noticed several of his stolen items through the open garage door. He quickly called the police, who questioned the home’s occupant after their arrival. The occupant was unable to provide police with an explanation regarding how the merchandise was obtained, or any receipts for the allegedly stolen items. Upon searching the home, deputies discovered methamphetamine in one of the bedrooms. The occupant was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including receiving stolen property.

Thefts like the one described above happen frequently, and as previously mentioned, most victims don’t get their items back. The best way to keep yourself from being the target of one of these thieves is never to keep items of any value in your vehicle where they can be plainly seen (particularly around holidays). If you must keep things in your car, lock them in the trunk where they’re harder to get to. Most thieves won’t be trying to pick the lock on someone’s trunk in the hopes that there could be something good inside. Instead, they look for easier targets where they know what they’re going to be getting.

California Penal Code 632 PC – Eavesdropping

| Police Blotter | January 25, 2018

The right to privacy has been a hotly-debated topic ever since 9/11. On the one side, people feel that they’re willing to give up some privacy for increased safety, while the other side feels that giving up their privacy isn’t worth it. While the federal government may not agree, in California personal privacy is important. As a matter of fact, the first section of the California State Constitution lists “privacy” as one of the inalienable rights that citizens of the state are granted. In 1967 the state government went even further when they introduced, and passed, the “Invasion of Privacy Act,” which made invading the privacy of another citizen illegal under certain circumstances. For example, under California Penal Code 632 PC, eavesdropping can be a criminal offense.

Eavesdropping, that is, listening to another person’s conversation without the individual knowing about it, happens all the time, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. Simply overhearing someone else’s conversation isn’t illegal, nor is it illegal if you listen in on purpose. According to California Penal Code 632 PC, eavesdropping becomes a crime under the following circumstances:
•The eavesdropping was intentional – not accidental
•It needs to take place without the permission of at least one member of the overheard party. If four members of a five-member group consent to be overheard and one does not, it’s still eavesdropping.
•The conversation must be confidential. To be confidential, the conversation needs to take place under circumstances where an individual would reasonably believe that at least one member of the party intends for no one else to overhear it.
•The eavesdropping must include the use of an electronic listening device to either amplify the sound of the conversation or to record it.

Have you ever seen movies where one person tries to record another person confessing to something while using a hidden tape recorder? Yeah, that’s technically illegal unless it’s part of a police investigation. Additionally, if the purpose of the eavesdropping was to obtain incriminating evidence to use in a civil trial, any evidence obtained in this illegal fashion will not be permissible in court.

Eavesdropping is a “wobbler” under California Law, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. When charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties include fines of up to $2,500 and/or up to one year in county jail. Felony charges carry significantly increased penalties, including 16 months to 3 years in California state prison and/or a $2,500 fine. If an individual has a prior conviction of eavesdropping or other crimes associated with the invasion of privacy, the potential fine is increased to $10,000.

Penal Code 851.87 PC – Sealing and Destroying Arrest Records

| Police Blotter | January 18, 2018

Penal Code 851.87 PC was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in October of 2017. The law allows for an individual to have their arrest record sealed as a matter of right under the following circumstances:

  • No criminal charges were ever filed after the arrest or the charges were filed, but subsequently dismissed
  • The defendant’s case went to trial and a verdict of “not guilty” was reached by the jury
  • The defendant’s conviction was vacated or overturned on appeal
  • The defendant successfully completed a pretrial or pre-sentencing diversion program, such as drug treatment

The crimes of domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse are exempt from sealing as a matter of right; however, a judge can still order the arrest record to be sealed if they deem it serves the matter of justice.

A person’s criminal record is public information, and can be discovered by virtually anyone who has a background check run on an individual. This includes government or state licensing agencies, apartment complexes, employers, and even potential romantic partners. The potential damage this information can do to an individual is widespread, considering those listed above may not care whether or not an individual’s arrest resulted in a conviction, or even lead to charges.

Discovering that a person was arrested can cast them in an unfair light, particularly when they were never convicted of actually committing a crime. Technically, California has a law on the books (AB 1008) that bans employers from considering the arrests of a job applicant that didn’t lead to a conviction. However, compliance is ultimately in the hands of the employer, and it’s possible for them to decline to hire someone based off of their arrest records without ever stating the reason why.

Previous to the enactment of PC 851.87, an individual hoping to have an arrest record sealed had to go before a judge and factually prove that they were innocent of the crime – a difficult task – even though they were never convicted of having committed it. After the passing of the law, an individual must simply prove to a judge that the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction.

Having an arrest record sealed means that it is no longer accessible by the public. State and federal law enforcement agencies will still have access to the records in limited uses.

Anyone is eligible to have their arrest record sealed under PC 851.87 under the circumstances mentioned above. However, even those who have been convicted of a crime may be able to have their conviction expunged under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC. It should be noted, though, that having a crime expunged is a difficult process and not everyone is eligible, and of those who are eligible, not everyone will succeed in having their conviction expunged.

There are a few cases in which an individual is not eligible to have their arrest record sealed as a matter of right. Those cases include an individual whose criminal record shows a “pattern” of domestic violence, child abuse and/or elder abuse.

A “pattern” is defined as two or more convictions, or five or more arrests, in a three-year period. Note that it’s still possible for these individuals to have their arrest records sealed; it is not, however, considered a “matter of right.”

GTA Isn’t the Only Kind of Theft Vehicle Owners Need to Worry About

| Police Blotter | January 11, 2018

Recently, the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station warned residents that they’d been seeing an increase in the theft of third-row seats among SUVs in the SCV. During the week of December 18, deputies received three separate reports during the same week regarding the theft and attempted theft of third-row seats from SUVs in the Saugus area. In one of the reports, the rear window of the SUV was smashed and the third-row seat was stolen. The two other reports occurred on the same street, though the thieves’ efforts were thwarted when the third-row seats were secured and locked via cables.

Stealing car parts can be a lucrative enterprise. Doing so often requires less skill and less time than stealing an entire vehicle, and parts can be concealed during transport and present a far less conspicuous target for police, whereas a complete vehicle is much easier to locate once it’s been reported stolen. Individual parts often also possess the benefit of being able to be used in more than one model vehicle, enabling them to be sold to a variety of potential buyers.

The theft of third-row seats is a growing trend nationwide, but they’re not the most frequent car parts taken by thieves. Here is a list of some of the most commonly stolen car parts and what you can do to protect yourself from theft:

Portable GPS

GPS systems can be a godsend for those who find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings and their use has exploded among the population as the popularity of ride-hailing apps has increased. The most obvious thing to do to keep your GPS system from being stolen is to hide it from plain view when the car is parked, or to take it out altogether. Those who own GPS devices that attach via suction cup should be warned, though, that hiding the device may not be enough. The suction cups often leave a mark on the windshield that sends a red flag to thieves that a GPS system may be in the car. Even though it isn’t in view, thieves may still break in and attempt to steal it, possibly leaving you with a broken window.

Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converter theft has popped up from time-to-time in the SCV, and it likely won’t be disappearing any time soon. The catalytic converter is located on the bottom of the vehicle and serves the important purpose of helping keep toxic emissions from the car out of the environment. These parts contain small amounts of platinum and rhodium – two precious metals that have increased in value over the years, and can sell for a pretty penny to scrap yards. The cost of replacing a catalytic converter can run anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, so protecting yours should be a priority.

Those who own lowriders can rejoice, as the most highly-targeted vehicles for catalytic converter theft are those that sit high off the ground like pickup trucks and SUVs. There isn’t much that can be done by a vehicle owner to protect their catalytic converter, though some states are adopting laws that require individuals who sell them for scrap to provide identification including their name and address to deter would-be thieves.

Tires and Rims

Custom rims and tires have been a target for thieves for a long, long time. There’s a huge market for them, and buying them new can be incredibly expensive. Thieves can jack up a car and steal the tires and/or rims within minutes, and it can be done with exceptional stealth. Luckily, there are wheel locks that can be purchased for about $20 which, while not 100 percent fool-proof, will deter most thieves.

Loose Items

Last, but not least, loose items like cell phones, tablets and sunglasses are often stolen from vehicles. Thieves will walk up and down streets at night testing unlocked doors simply to steal whatever may happen to be available in a given car. The best way to protect yourself is to always keep your doors locked, park in well-lit areas, and never leave anything of value within your vehicle in plain sight.

Good News From the LASD to Ring in the New Year

| Police Blotter | January 5, 2018

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has some good news for residents of Los Angeles County to close out 2017 and ring in 2018. According to preliminary data gathered and analyzed by the LASD, violent crimes in areas patrolled by deputies fell in 2017 –particularly homicides. L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced at an end-of-the-year news conference that homicides had fallen 20.5 percent in 2017 as compared with 2016. He credited the efforts of deputies, community outreach workers, and special programs that reduce gang activity as being especially effective in reducing violent crimes.

In 2016, there were 137 gang-related homicides in L.A. County. This year, that number has dropped to 100. The total number of homicide-related deaths in the count for 2017 was 167.

It isn’t just in homicides where authorities are seeing a decline. According to the same data, rapes, grand theft auto, larceny, aggravated assaults and robberies totaled 73,431 in 2017. Last year, that number was 77,007. Cities that contract with the LASD to provide law enforcement for Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Malibu, Lancaster, West Hollywood and Norwalk saw an overall drop of 4.6 percent in violent crime this year.

According to Sheriff McDonnell, focuses on human trafficking and cracking down on the dangerous street drug fentanyl assisted in increasing the number of arrests this year. The data in the LASD report includes 521 arrests this year of pimps and others related to human trafficking, compared to 372 in 2016. Additionally, 76 victims of human trafficking (50 of whom were minors) were rescued this year.

Regarding fentanyl, deputies this year made 1,028 arrests compared to last year’s 719. As a result of the arrests, 242 lbs. of the dangerous drug were seized. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid used in the medical world as a treatment for pain. It was developed in the 1960s, is 100 times more powerful than morphine and made headlines in 2016 as being the cause of death for world-renowned musician Prince. Fentanyl is so potent that as little as 2 or 3 micrograms, the physical size of a few grains of salt, is enough to kill an adult. The drug is strictly controlled, and typically only prescribed by doctors to cancer patients and others who experience severe pain.

While the reduction in violent crimes has been a net positive for law enforcement, Sheriff McDonnell went on to state that it was accomplished in a “very difficult police environment.” He was referring to the passages of AB 109, the transfer of prison inmates to county jails, and Propositions 47 and 57 – both of which made police work more challenging by reducing the penalties for certain crimes.

Bailing Someone Out of the Santa Clarita Jail in 2018

| Police Blotter | December 28, 2017

It’s not a happy new year when finding out that a friend or loved one has been arrested and taken into custody. It can raise a lot of questions — particularly for those who have never dealt with the bail bond process before. Being in jail is stressful, both for the defendant and for the family members, and a basic understanding of the bail process can be incredibly helpful for those who find themselves in a situation like this.

When someone is arrested in Santa Clarita, the individual is transported to the SCV/Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station for the booking process. That means the arrestee will have a photograph taken, fingerprints recorded, and a comprehensive national background or Live Scan check will be conducted to search for any warrants, probation, or immigration holds.

Once that process is complete, one of two things can occur: If the defendant is being charged with a misdemeanor, he or she can be cited and released under the obligation to return to court at the appointed date and time. If charged with a felony, the accused will likely be held at the station for up to 72 hours and will be held until the first arraignment, unless he/she is bailed out first. If bailed out, the defendant will return to court within two to three weeks.

It’s important to know, if the defendant isn’t bailed out within that 72-hour period, or if the on-site jail becomes overcrowded, then it’s likely that the suspect will be transferred to one of the larger, long-term holding facilities in downtown Los Angeles. Men are typically sent to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, while women are sent to the Lynwood Jail (both are L.A. County jails).

When bailing someone out, the first several hours are crucial in determining how long the individual will remain in custody. When time is of the essence, being able to contact a bail agent 24 hours a day, seven days a week is ideal. Once contacted, a bondsman can communicate with the SCV Sheriff’s Station jail and inform them that the bail bond process has begun, often avoiding jail transfers that can add anywhere from 24-48 hours to a defendant’s time in custody.

Privacy is a big issue for many clients, and great care should be taken to ensure their private business affairs are kept strictly confidential. All consultations should be absolutely free-of-charge, and knowledgeable agents familiar with the local jail process in the area should be available 24 hours a day to answer any questions.

The bail bond contract and paperwork required to bail someone out should be straightforward and simple. This includes filling out a bail bond application and signing the indemnitor’s agreement. The agreement states that whoever signs for the bail bond agrees to be held financially responsible in the event that the defendant doesn’t show up for court.

Provided the individual attends all of his/her mandated court dates, the bond will eventually be exonerated, and the person who signs the bail bond will not remain responsible for any cost beyond the bail bond premium. However, if the defendant does not show up for all of the required court appointments, a bench warrant may be issued for the defendant’s arrest and the person (also known as “the indemnitor”) who signed the bail bond will be responsible for paying the full amount of bail to the court.

One of the best things about working with a locally trusted SCV bail bondsman is that a bond can be posted to have a friend, family member or loved one released from the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station jail 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over – DUI Enforcement Dec. 15th – Jan 1st

| Police Blotter | December 21, 2017

Beginning last Friday, December 15, the LASD implemented a strict enforcement of driving under the influence, a policy they’re calling the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. They’re partnering with the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure that those who choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are removed from the roads and taken to jail.

The enforcement program runs through January 1 and LASD stations throughout the county will be deploying increased saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints to deter would-be impaired drivers. Currently, the exact locations of the saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints have yet to be announced, and some of them may not be. However, an increased law enforcement presence should be expected in major traffic areas as well as on the freeways. Specially trained officers will be deployed to the checkpoints where they will look for signs of impaired driving as well as checking for valid licensure.

Driving under the influence, or DUI, has long been associated with the consumption of alcohol. However, in recent years, California has seen a significant increase in drug-impaired collisions. Officials with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department want to let the public know that a DUI doesn’t start and end with the consumption of alcohol; driving under the influence also includes operating a motor vehicle while affected by narcotics, marijuana, and prescription drugs. Driving under the influence of any substance that may impair a person’s physical abilities is illegal in California, even if it’s medication legally prescribed by an individual’s doctor.

Those who choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs pose a serious risk not only to their own safety but to the safety of others as well. The penalties for being charged for a DUI are stiff, but if someone else is injured or killed as a result of driving while intoxicated, the charges can include manslaughter and even murder. Luckily for holiday revelers, avoiding the potentially catastrophic consequences of driving under the influence has never been easier than it is today, and it all begins by planning ahead. If you know you’re going to consume alcohol while out celebrating, recruiting a designated driver is a tried-and-true method for getting to and from where you’re going safely. When you select a designated driver, he/she should download the DDVIP mobile app for both Android and iPhones. The app gives designated drivers access to special deals at local hotspots throughout Los Angeles County.

If there’s no designated driver to be had, there are plenty of ride-hailing apps to choose from — all of which can get you where you need to go as quickly and easily as possible. Of course, the price for these rides will vary depending on how far you want to go, but if you can’t afford the trip, perhaps you shouldn’t be going out at all.

Ultimately, the holidays should be a time of celebration and fun, not one of grief and criminal charges. Acting responsibly by planning a safe ride ahead of time will help ensure your holiday season falls into the former category and not the latter. Stay safe and have a happy, healthy holiday!

California Penal Code 496 PC – Receiving Stolen Merchandise

| Police Blotter | December 14, 2017

‘Tis the season of giving, and all the better if you can get a good deal at the same time, right? Shopping online has exploded in popularity over the past several years, and with good reason; some of the best prices aren’t found in stores. Unfortunately, getting a good price on something can land you in hot water if the item turns out to be stolen. Stolen property is bought and sold online all the time on websites like Craigslist and eBay, as unsuspecting shoppers are all too excited to get their hands on the latest gadgets and fashion trends.

Receiving stolen merchandise is covered under California Penal Code 496 PC and is described as buying, receiving, selling, concealing, or withholding from the owner any property which they know has been stolen. The property can be stolen in any way, including grand theft, petty theft and embezzlement. For example, an individual buys a computer from someone on Craigslist for $400 that’s advertised everywhere else for $1,500. The computer is in great condition other than the serial number is missing, but the buyer doesn’t ask about the mysteriously missing number and completes the transaction. It’s possible that the buyer in this case could be charged with receiving stolen merchandise.
A 496 PC can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The majority of charges are misdemeanors, with the possible penalties of up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If charged as a felony, the penalties include 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The deciding factor on the severity of the charges depends on the value of the stolen property. If the value equals $950 or less, the charges will be filed as a misdemeanor. If the value is greater than $950, the charges could be filed as a felony.

One of the key elements in being charged with violating PC 496 is to know that the person who receives the property knew that it was stolen. Most thieves aren’t going to advertise that their items were stolen, and being ignorant of the fact that it was stolen often leads to no charges being filed. Unfortunately, sometimes a deal can be too good to pass up, and people will buy or otherwise receive stolen property that they know is stolen based on that fact alone. If it can be proven that someone knows the property was stolen, they’ll likely face charges. However, even in the event that the recipient is completely unaware of the fact that the item was stolen, they can still lose big. That’s because when stolen property is located, it’s going to be returned to the owner, and whatever amount the recipient paid for it is usually lost.

If you’re going to buy things from people online, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from buying stolen merchandise. For one, be suspicious about really good deals for recently released items that are still in their original packaging. A top of the line gadget that’s still in its original packaging and selling for a lot less than its sticker price should be a red flag. Also, on big-ticket items like cars or boats, always be sure that the seller has all of the appropriate documentation before you hand over any money. One common trick car thieves use to unload recently stolen vehicles is to offer to mail the pink slip to you. Also, take a good look at the product you’re buying before you do so. If any identifying characteristics, such as serial or VIN numbers are damaged or removed — don’t buy it!

Ultimately, the vast majority of private sellers aren’t hawking stolen merchandise, but some of them do. Taking precautions to be extra careful can prevent you from, at best, wasting money and, at worst, facing criminal charges.

Robin Sandoval is a California Licensed Bail Bondsman and owner of SCV Bail Bonds. Robin writes blogs and articles to help increase community awareness of the bail industry. If you have questions or want to suggest a topic, email robin@scvbailbonds.com, visit www.scvbailbonds.com or call 661-299-2245

Keeping Safe During the Holidays

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 11, 2017

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and the closer we get to Christmas, the busier things will get. When our lives start to move faster and get more stressful, our awareness and concentration becomes spread pretty thin, and things can — and often do — fall through the cracks.

Here in Canyon Country, any would-be thieves are well-aware of the fact that people are going to be doing some significant shopping, and that there will be a lot of coming and going to and from the house, and unfortunately, people are going to make mistakes. Most criminals are opportunists, and those who work this time of year are no different. No matter how crazy things may get, remember that keeping you and your loved ones safe from becoming victimized by these people is a top priority. Here are a few tips to help you work toward that end.

The car might seem like a good place to hide Christmas presents, but locations like that are a prime target for the old smash-and-grab. Never leave shopping bags, gifts, or anything of value visible in your car when you’re not in it.
Try to park in well-lit areas. If you have motion-triggered lights in your driveway, all the better. However, if you must park on the street, try to park under a street light. Thieves tend to avoid areas where the odds of being caught are higher.
Always double check to make sure all your doors and windows are closed and locked before you leave the home. Thieves know that there will be unopened gifts inside, and homes are prime targets during this time period.
After the presents are opened, don’t leave boxes of expensive gifts outside for the trash pickup. Boxes for televisions, stereos and computers sitting outside by the curb telegraph to thieves exactly what the home has to offer should they decide to break in.
Last, but not least, whether you do a lot of online shopping or not, pay close attention to your credit and debit card charges for the next couple months. Watch for any suspicious purchases or activity, and contact your credit card company or financial institution immediately if you see anything that seems questionable.
This time of year is supposed to be one of joy and gratitude, and it can be if you remember to take care of yourself. From all of us to you, have a safe and happy holiday!

If you have questions about any Canyon Country bail related subject, or if you want to suggest a topic, visit Robin at Santaclaritagond.com or call 661-299-BOND(2663).

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