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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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The Statute of Limitations Explained

| Police Blotter | November 16, 2017

The slew of recent sexual assault allegations hitting Hollywood elites has been hard to miss. It seems like every couple of days another person comes out and claims to be the victim of sexual assault on one or more occasion. While most of the victims have been women, a few men have made headlines, as well, when they alleged to be victims of similar crimes. One of those men happens to be actor Cory Feldman, who has long alluded to the fact that sexual predators victimized him and other young people in Hollywood during the 1980s. Once the person who allegedly committed the assault was named, the LAPD opened up an investigation.

Unfortunately for Feldman, the investigation was dropped not long after it began when it was determined that the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.

In every state, there are certain time limits attached to crimes that determine the period of time during which the crime can be investigated and charges pressed. The time limit ranges from 1-10 years, and was put in place to create general practicability and fairness when filing lawsuits. While the limitations may seem unfair to victims, it’s viewed as equally unfair to the accused to have a lawsuit hanging over his/her head indefinitely. By creating a time limit during which the crime can be investigated and charges pressed, it allows a legal conflict to have a definite end, thereby giving both parties a path to moving forward with their lives.

The statute of limitations typically begins on the date that the alleged crime occurs. For example, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in the State of California is one year. So, for instance, someone who became the victim of medical malpractice on July 1, 2017 would have until July 1, 2018 to speak up and get a lawsuit together.
In California, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor is 8 years past the age of majority (the age of majority is 18, and so the statute of limitations would be when the child turns 26). However, California is one of 28 states that adopted an extension to the statute of limitations on sexual abuse of a child based on the “discovery” of the abuse or its effects. The “discovery” rule allows civil trials to go forward when the trial occurs “within three years of the date the individual discovers, or should have reasonably discovered, that psychological injury or illness was present and that the psychological injury or illness was caused by the sexual abuse.” Essentially, a person has 3 years to file a claim upon “discovery” of the memories of past sexual abuse. The rule was designed to allow those with repressed memories of abuse who discovered them years later in therapy pursue justice.

In 2016, California eliminated the statute of limitations on rape cases. Rape is considered a specific type of sexual assault that includes one or more forms of penetration, and as such is given its own set of laws covering the crime, which stand apart from simple sexual assault. Before the law eliminating the statute of limitations on rape cases was signed into law, the previous legal procedure was to allow for a statute of limitations on rape cases of 10 years, with exceptions being made for cases where DNA evidence was discovered later on.

As of right now, the sexual assault allegations targeting major players in Hollywood are continuing to come to light; only time will tell if any of them go to criminal or civil trials. In the meantime, the battle continues to rage in the court of public opinion.

Violent Crime in Los Angeles My Be Higher than Previously Thought

| Police Blotter | November 9, 2017

The LAPD periodically releases crime statistics to keep the public informed about crime levels throughout the Los Angeles area. Recently, a captain with the police force has accused high-ranking LAPD officials of purposely misclassifying violent crimes in an effort to mislead the public in regards to crime levels throughout Los Angeles.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, a claim was filed last week by Capt. L. Carranza, overseer of the Van Nuys Police Station, which states that she had been notifying LAPD superiors since 2014 about underreporting of crime in the Foothill area. The area includes Pacoima, Sunland and Tujunga, and Capt. Carranza’s claim states that no action was taken regarding the information she brought forward.

Capt. Carranza assumed control of the LAPD’s Van Nuys Police Station in 2015 and, upon doing so, began to conduct her own analysis of violent crimes stored in the department’s database. The claim did not include the raw data that Capt. Carranza collected regarding crime, though it did state that, according to her own analysis, aggravated assaults in 2016 were underreported by 10 percent in the Pacific and Central divisions. She does not claim that the crimes went unreported, but that they were instead classified as less serious offenses in an effort to alter violent crime statistics in the area.

Another analysis conducted by Capt. Carranza, this time of the Hollenbeck and Mission divisions, showed a 10 percent undercounting of aggravated assaults in 2017. In her claim, Capt. Carranza states that the LAPD “engaged in a highly complex and elaborate cover-up in an attempt to hide the fact that command officers had been providing false crime figures to the public attempting to convince the public that crime was not significantly increasing.”

The LAPD chose not to comment on the allegations in Capt. Carranza’s claim. However, LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein did issue a statement praising the accuracy of the department’s crime statistics and explained that there was a special unit developed designed to scrutinize the data and ensure it was accurate. Rubenstein went on to state, “Integrity in all we say and do is a core value for the department and any accusation related to the accuracy of our reports will be taken very seriously and investigated as a potential disciplinary matter.”

This is not the first time that Capt. Carranza made claims regarding the accuracy of the LAPD’s crime reports. She said that she was told in September that she would be denied a promotion to commander due to her “meddling into others’ business.” She is currently seeking damages for lost wages and pension money, as well as emotional distress and unspecified physical injuries.

Another investigation, this time performed by the Los Angeles Times, found that the department had misclassified 1,200 violent crimes in a one-year span that ended in September of 2013. According to an auditor, the misclassification stemmed from “a combination of systemic issues, procedural deficiencies, department-wide misconceptions about what constitutes an aggravated assault, and, in a small number of cases, individual officer error.”

Skimmer Discovered on Bank ATM

| Police Blotter | November 2, 2017

The LASD is warning people to be on the lookout for credit card skimming devices when going about. One of the devices was recently discovered at Cathay Bank in Rowland Heights, and detectives from the Walnut/Diamond Bar station are currently investigating. It isn’t known yet if, or how many, people may have been victimized.

Skimmers are card readers that take the data from an unsuspecting victim’s credit or debit card. They typically fit conveniently over the actual reader on ATMs, gas pumps and other often-used pieces of technology. When someone swipes their card through a device that has a skimmer on it, the skimmer will steal the data from the magnetic strip on the back of the card and store it in a file on the device. Then, the thief has to return to the skimmer to obtain the file with which they can create cloned credit cards or simply steal money from an individual’s accounts. While some skimmers are more obvious to spot than others — for those who know to look — the scariest kind are those that don’t interfere with the official reader on the machine. In other words, a person can be using an ATM that has a skimmer on it and still complete their bank transaction as if the device wasn’t there.

Skimmers aren’t new, but thieves have been getting savvier with their use. Advancements in technology have allowed skimmers to get smaller and smaller over the years, conveniently fitting over actual card readers on machines. Additionally, thieves have been planting small hidden cameras near their skimmers to capture their victims’ PIN numbers or other valuable passwords.

As the holiday shopping season heats up, thieves are going to be working overtime to steal people’s credit card or other identifying information. This time of year is when it’s more important than ever to be on the lookout for these devices when you’re out and about. Here are a few things you can look for:
Check for signs of tampering at the ATM before you use it. Graphics or pieces that don’t line up correctly, different colored materials, or other signs of obvious tampering at the top of the ATM or near the speakers could mean that the machine is compromised.
If you’re someplace where there’s more than one ATM in a row, such as a bank, do a quick comparison and make sure both ATMs look identical — they should. If one looks different than the other, don’t use either one and report it to bank management.
Gas pumps are another common target for skimmers, and the above rules both apply to those as well. It can be harder to tell with gas pumps, as they’re usually not as well-maintained as ATMs, but if anything feels fishy, you can always pay inside instead.
PINs are essential for thieves, so even if everything looks safe with the ATM you’re using, cover your hand as you type in your PIN. If there’s a camera installed, it’s a lot less likely to catch that crucial piece of information.

The vast majority of card readers available to the public are skimmer-free, of course, but a little caution now can save a ton of headaches down the road.

Conspiracy to Commit Fraud – California Penal Code 182 PC

| Police Blotter | October 26, 2017

Two transient women were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud when it was discovered they were lying to passersby to elicit donations. C. Doll, 26, of Loma Linda was arrested on the corner of Tippecanoe Ave. and Coulston St. in San Bernardino where she was panhandling. An hour later, another woman, this time 41-year-old M. Love of Yucca Valley, was arrested on the same corner for the same reason.

During the booking and processing procedure, it was discovered that the two women were linked — the women were working together to make signs in order to get donations from the public. The sign that the two women created was a large poster that had a baby’s face on it, which they used to ask the public for donations to pay the baby’s funeral costs. Deputies working with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department determined that the baby on the poster didn’t belong to either woman, nor was there any need for funeral and burial costs. Both women were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.

According to California Penal Code 182 PC, a criminal conspiracy takes place when at least two or more individuals agree to commit a crime and at least one of them commits an overt act in furtherance of that crime. For example, if two people agree to burn down someone’s house, and one of them buys an accelerant and some matches, both parties will be vulnerable to conspiracy charges. For someone to be charged with conspiracy, it isn’t necessary that the planned crime actually takes place, nor will they be charged for simply planning to commit a crime. For someone to be eligible for conspiracy charges, they must plan to commit a crime with someone else and do something to bring those plans to fruition. The act doesn’t necessarily have to be criminal in nature. As mentioned above, there’s nothing illegal about purchasing matches and an accelerant (light fluid, gasoline, etc.). However, buying those items becomes a crime once it’s been agreed upon by two or more people to use them to commit a crime.

Interestingly, there doesn’t need to be a formal or explicit agreement between the parties; it’s possible for investigators to establish that an agreement existed by examining the parties’ actions. Additionally, when people are charged with violating 182 PC, they become criminally responsible for any crimes committed by co-conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy. So, if the person in the example above chose to steal the accelerant and matches, and got caught for it, then the other conspirator would be responsible for the theft, even if they weren’t involved in it or knew it was happening.

Conspiracy to commit fraud is a “wobbler” under California law, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties include a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to one year in county jail. If charged as a felony, the fine is the same, but the jail time is increased to 16 months to three years in county jail.

Sexual Harassment in the News – California Penal Code 243.4

| Police Blotter | October 19, 2017

Just recently, an investigation by the New York Times blew the lid off of one of Hollywood’s dirty little secrets. Acclaimed producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of having sexually assaulted several Hollywood actresses, and has reportedly reached settlement on at least eight court cases regarding similar offenses stretching back to 1990.

Once the first accusation was made, they kept on coming. Many A-listers, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale, have come forward stating they’ve been the victims of sexual harassment and/or assault by the movie mogul in the past. Currently, the LAPD and LASD are urging individuals who feel they may have been victims of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein to come forward.

There is no criminal investigation as of yet being conducted in Los Angeles, though the NYPD is investigating an incident that occurred in 2004, and police in London are currently investigating a separate occurrence. Weinstein was recently fired from his company once the allegations came to light, and has voluntarily entered rehab.

Sexual assault is covered under California Penal Code 243.4 PC and is described as touching the intimate parts of another human being for the purpose of sexual gratification, arousal or abuse. Sexual assault differs from rape (PC 261) in that for someone to be charged with rape, actual penetration or sexual intercourse needs to have occurred; with sexual assault, touching will suffice. It should be noted that for someone to be accused of sexual assault, the touching must be unwanted.
Sexual assault is a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Misdemeanor charges typically include things like the intentional fondling of someone’s breasts, or placing a hand on their backside without their consent. The crime can be charged as a felony if the victim:
Was unlawfully restrained
Was unaware that the touching was sexual in nature because they were convinced it was for professional purposes (think doctors)
Was institutionalized and mentally incapacitated or seriously disabled
Was forced to touch the intimate body parts of the defendant
When charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $3,000 and/or summary probation.

For felony offenses, the possible penalties include formal probation, 2-4 years in California state prison with a possible addition of 3-5 years if the victim suffered great bodily injury, a maximum $10,000 fine and/or mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Teaching Kids Awareness: The Dangers of Kidnapping

| Police Blotter | October 12, 2017

On Friday, October 6, a 12-year-old girl reported that she was grabbed by a man who tried offering her a ride while she was running with her soccer team in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Santa Clarita.

The soccer team had been running from the 23500 block of Bridgeport Lane to an adjacent neighborhood when the victim fell behind. It was then that she said a man asked her if he could give her a ride somewhere. When she declined the offer, the man grabbed her by the arm and dragged her a few feet before the victim was able to break free. Once the suspect lost his grip on the girl, he fled to his black car, believed to be a Toyota or Honda, and sped away.

Instances like the one above occur frequently all over the world, and the unfortunate truth is that in many of them, the victim doesn’t escape. This victim was extremely lucky that she was not only able to break free of the suspect’s grasp, but that he didn’t attempt to chase her down, but instead took off.

Kidnapping is a danger for children of any age, from the young and helpless to those in their teens, and it’s important that you speak with your children and make sure they know what to do if they ever find themselves in a situation like this. Below are a few tips to help you out:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Whether your child is walking alone or with friends, they should always take a look around once in awhile to make sure they aren’t attracting any undue attention. People who look like easy targets tend to be easy targets, while those who are more alert have a much better chance of thwarting a would-be attacker.
  • If possible, call the police right away. This one might seem obvious, but that’s not always the case when it comes to teenagers. When panicked, teens have been known to text friends, significant others or even make posts on social media before thinking to call the police. If your child is kidnapped and has access to their phones, tell them to immediately dial 911 and keep the phone on speaker. Cell phones can be traced, and their chances of being found increase significantly if they can leave their phone on while being tracked.
  • Use what you can. When someone is grabbed, they typically focus on trying to free the part of their body that’s being handled. Instead, teach your kids to focus on using the parts of their body that are free. For example, if a kidnapper grabs them by the arms, your child can still use his/her legs to stomp on the fragile bones of their assailant’s feet, kick the attacker in the groin, the knee, or use a free arm to scratch at his/her face.
  • Be loud and be clear. During an attempted kidnapping, children and teens should, if nothing else, make sure to scream loudly for help and state that the kidnapper is not their father/mother. The more commotion that’s created will bring more attention to the attempted crime, and possibly spook the kidnapper into flight. If not, bystanders may be able to come and help.

Planning is easy, but being able to act in the moment can be something else entirely. Make sure your kids are well-versed in what to do if they find themselves in a situation like this.

It’s Illegal to be in Possession of a ‘Destructive Device’ 18710 PC

| Police Blotter | October 5, 2017

LASD deputies received a call on Thursday, September 28 from concerned residents reporting a suspicious vehicle parked in front of a Lawndale home. When deputies arrived, they located the suspicious vehicle and questioned its two occupants. Upon conducting a search of the vehicle, deputies discovered a handgun and detained the male suspect while a female was later released. A further investigation of the home ensued, during which deputies came across nearly 30 pieces of military-grade ordnance.

According to authorities, the ordnance included grenades, ammunition, and a variety of shells of various sizes that appeared to date back to WWII. The home where the devices were discovered had been owned by a WWII veteran who passed away a few months prior to the incident. After the veteran’s death, the house remained empty until it was overtaken by transients.

Upon discovering the cache of weaponry, residents of the surrounding homes were evacuated for about 14 hours while members of the bomb squad analyzed the items. Most of the grenades and explosive devices were deemed to be inert, though some of the ammunition found on-site caused concern among investigators. Authorities are still looking into the cache of grenades, mortar rounds, artillery shells and ammunition to find out where it came from, how long it had been there, and to whom it belonged.

If the items are traced back to the previous owner of the house, it wouldn’t be the first time someone had such items in their possession. Under California Penal Code 18710 PC, it’s illegal to possess a “destructive device,” including grenades, bombs, explosive missiles, certain rockets and rocket-propelled projectiles or projectiles containing any kind of explosive or incendiary material. Under this definition, it isn’t required that the explosive device be a military-grade bomb or projectile; homemade items like Molotov cocktails count as explosive devices. For someone to be charged with violating 18710 PC, they must simply possess the destructive device — it isn’t necessary that the individual planned to explode it or use it in any way.

18710 PC is a “wobbler,” meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Potential misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

For felonies, the potential penalties are enhanced and include 16 months to three years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The felony penalty is enhanced to include 2-6 years in California state prison if the defendant is found to have possessed the explosive device near a public street or highway, private residence, public building (such as a theater, school, church or college), near any vessel for hire that carries passengers (trains, planes, cable cars, etc.) and in or near any public place that is ordinarily passed by human beings.

Criminal Threats – PC 422

| Police Blotter | September 28, 2017

Recently, a woman was arrested for entering a Kardashian-owned boutique in West Hollywood and threatening employees. The suspect, M. Medrano, is suspected of entering the boutique in the late morning on Thursday, September 21, and proceeding to point a firearm at employees of the store while demanding that they “stay away from Cuba.” She then knocked over several items as she exited the store. Two hours later, Medrano returned to the store with a 16-inch machete and swung it at reporters and bystanders outside while claiming, “The Kardashians will be executed if they step on communist territory.”

Nobody was injured during either altercation, and Medrano was able to escape before authorities arrived on both occasions. Thanks to video footage, deputies were able to track down Medrano at her home. After serving a search warrant, investigators discovered two pellet guns, one of which looked similar to the weapon brandished in the boutique. The suspect was arrested at her home on suspicion of assault and making criminal threats. She is currently being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.

Criminal threats are covered under California Penal Code 422 PC and are described as threatening to physically harm or kill someone, thereby putting the victim in a state of fear for his/her own safety, or that of the individual’s family.

The 422 PC is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If charged as a felony, the penalties include up to three years in California state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. If the defendant uses a deadly or dangerous weapon to communicate a threat (which Medrano apparently did), an additional and consecutive sentence of one year in California state prison can be added.

Assault is covered under California Penal Code 240 PC and is described as willfully doing something that was likely to result in the application of force against someone else while the defendant has the ability to apply force to another person. The defendant doesn’t actually have to apply force to another person in order to be charged with assault. The suspect simply needs to willfully act in a way that’s likely to result in the application of force while in a position to be able to apply that force. For example, throwing a dinner plate at someone, even if it misses, could be considered assault. However, throwing a dinner plate at someone who is much too far away to be hit by that plate would likely not result in assault charges.

Assault is typically charged as a misdemeanor, with the possible penalties of misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

When Bail is Revoked

| Police Blotter | September 21, 2017

Ex-pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud some time ago, and was, until recently, out on bail pending his sentencing. Last week, prosecutors argued in front of a judge that because of his online antics, Shkreli was too dangerous to be allowed his freedom and should have his bail revoked. The judge agreed, and Shkreli now sits in jail awaiting his sentencing. Situations like this don’t occur often, but when they do, they often leave others worried that their bail could similarly be revoked.

The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to be released on bail. It does not, however, guarantee them the right to stay out on bail. When a person is released on bail they’re still expected to obey all local, state and federal laws, as well as abide by any and all conditions that may have been set by the judge. When someone is released on bail but is found to be in violation of the law or their bail conditions, they can have their bail revoked by a judge. Any money they paid to get out of jail is not refunded, whether it is to the court or to a bail bondsman.

Another reason someone can have their bail revoked (or outright denied in the first place) is if they’re deemed to be dangerous to the community or any other individual. The safety of others is the most important factor a judge takes into consideration when granting someone’s release on bail. If the defendant is believed to be a danger to one or more people, they’ll likely have their bail denied outright.

Martin Shkreli’s case is a little different. While he wasn’t deemed to be a danger at the time his bail was granted, prosecutors were able to successfully argue that the behavior he engaged in afterward did make him dangerous. The behavior at the center of the complaint was a Facebook post made by Shkreli offering a $5,000 bounty for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair, with the follicle intact. Prosecutors felt that the Facebook post constituted solicitation of assault.

Shkreli’s defense lawyers argued that the post wasn’t serious. However, when the post was made, the Secret Service was prompted to provide additional resources toward protecting Clinton, due to the fear that one of Shkreli’s social media followers may carry out the assault.

When released on bail, it’s important to remember that suspects are not free to go about their lives as they did before they were arrested. They’re expected to be on their best behavior, obey all laws and conditions, and to attend all of their court hearings at the appointed dates and times. Whenever someone is found to be in error, bail can not only be revoked, but it can make it much more difficult to bail the person out again.

SB 10 – Bail Reform’s Assault on Marsy’s Law

| Police Blotter | September 14, 2017

For those who aren’t aware, Senate Bill 10, or SB 10, is an initiative in the California State Senate to eliminate California’s bail system. Despite the protestation of the Association of California Judges and law enforcement agencies across the state, the bill remains in play in the state government.

Eliminating California’s bail system would have disastrous effects on the crime rates across the state by allowing violent criminals to remain on the streets pending their trials. Another, often overlooked yet important, feature of SB 10 is that it would put the victims of violent crimes at serious risk by circumventing some incredibly important features of Marsy’s Law.

Marsy’s Law was named after Marsy Nicholas, a UCSB senior who was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Though it took 25 years for the law to pass, Marsy’s Law amended the state Constitution by significantly expanding the Victims’ Bill of Rights. There were 17 rights afforded victims under Marsy’s Law, including the right (upon request) to be informed of, and given the opportunity to provide testimony before an accused defendant is released. The purpose of this right is to make the court aware of the defendant’s behavior and any potential threat he or she may pose to the alleged victim of the crime. Currently, should the defendant be found a serious threat, it’s possible that they would not be allowed bail.

Currently, when setting bail, a judge is to “take into consideration the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearance at the trial hearing of the case.” If SB 10 were to pass, thereby eliminating California’s bail system, the alleged victims of violent crimes would have no part in whether or not the defendant is released from police custody. Furthermore, judges’ discretion would be significantly hindered — if not eliminated outright – as SB 10 will only allow information about the current case to be considered when someone is charged with a crime; their criminal history will not be taken into account.

SB 10, if passed, would inevitably result in the release of individuals charged with serious and violent crimes, and would, in turn, put the alleged victims of those crimes in danger. Not only would it flood the streets with alleged criminals, but it would rescind very important rights currently held by the victims of these crimes, which took 25 years to enact.

Three Strikes, You’re Out: California’s Three Strikes Law

| Police Blotter | September 7, 2017

Most people are aware that California has a law which stipulates that anyone convicted of felonies three times gets sent to prison for life. What people may not know, though, is that not every felony-level crime applies to California’s Three Strikes Law, and that the law itself is a lot more nuanced than they’ve been lead to believe.

The law was passed in the ‘90s as an angry reaction to the murders of 18-year-old Kimber Reynolds and 12-year-old Polly Klaas. The perpetrators of the crime were two men with violent criminal records, and the law was constructed to stop repeat offenders from committing violent crimes by putting them permanently behind bars. The reaction was certainly understandable, and the law that resulted from that reaction sounded like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, data gathered since then has been unable to verify that the law did anything to reduce crime.

In 2012, the law was changed. Up until that point, any felony (even a “wobbler”) could result in a strike on a person’s criminal record. As such, offenders were receiving a third strike for committing relatively low-level crimes like possession of a controlled substance, or receiving stolen property. The change that occurred in 2012 was known as Proposition 36. It won the popular vote in every county in California, and significantly impacted California’s criminal justice system. Once Proposition 36 came into effect, all three strikes committed by an offender had to be violent felonies, as opposed to just the first two, for someone to be sent to prison for 25 years to life. If the third offense is a felony, but doesn’t count as a strike, the defendant will still face an enhanced sentence of double the normal penalty for the crime.

To understand how the law works in its current form, it’s important to understand which crimes qualify as a strike and which do not. Misdemeanors do not count as a strike, nor do many felonies. Those that do qualify are going to be serious felonies and/or violent felonies. Serious felonies are crimes like arson, robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, murder and rape.

Non-violent felonies, like receiving stolen property, do not qualify as a strike. However, some felonies that wouldn’t otherwise qualify as a strike will do so if they’re performed in a violent manner, such as using a firearm or inflicting great bodily injury on the victim.

Last, but not least, not every crime that counts as a strike will necessarily result in a strike on the defendant’s record. It’s possible to have a strike removed by the judge, at their discretion, at any time before sentencing. Additionally, defense attorneys can file what’s known as a Romero Motion and ask the judge to dismiss a strike in furtherance of justice.

Back to School Safety: Stranger Danger

| Canyon Country Magazine | September 5, 2017

It’s nearly Autumn, and children are heading back to school. If you haven’t already, it’s time to discuss with them how to deal with confrontations with strangers.

Kids encountering strangers on their way to school is really nothing new, and the vast majority of those people are just benign members of the community who are out and about. Unfortunately, the intentions of some people aren’t as innocent as others. Your kids need to know how to proceed if they find themselves in a situation in which they feel uncomfortable.

It’s best to begin teaching your kids about strangers when they’re little, but it’s never too late to have the talk. When dealing with younger children, it’s usually best to teach them to distinguish between “safe strangers” and the unsafe variety. Some “safe strangers” include police, firemen, teachers and other vetted school faculty. Other types of “safe strangers” could be those who happen to be working in a shop, or even the bus driver. For example, if your child feels uncomfortable or is being followed and can’t find a police officer, tell him or her to go into the nearest business and ask for help. The employee will serve as a witness and, therefore, a deterrent if the person following your child is up to no good. And the employee can always call the police if necessary.

Another good tip is to make sure your children know to never, ever approach a stranger’s vehicle. No matter what the person may say to lure a child, kids need to know that they’re under no obligation to interact with someone they don’t know.

“Safety in numbers” is an old saying, but it’s still true today; walking to and from school alone can be dangerous. If your child walks to school (or even to the bus stop), try and get together with other parents in the area and have your kids all walk together. A group of children is much less likely to be accosted than a child walking alone.

Ultimately, keeping our children safe is the responsibility of the whole community. Whether you have children or not, keep an eye out. If you see anyone suspicious in the neighborhood, or if someone is harassing children, call the police.

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

Understanding California Penal Code 1320.5 – Failure to Appear

| Police Blotter | August 31, 2017

California Penal Code 1320.5 comes into play when someone has been charged with or convicted of a felony and failed to appear in court while they were out on bail. The potential penalties include felony probation, up to one year in county jail or 16 months to three years in California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, those who were out on bail and failed to appear will more than likely have to forfeit their bail to the courts. All of these punishments are in addition to those of the original crime with which the defendant was charged.

California Penal Code 1320 PC is applied when someone is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony and was released from police custody on their own recognizance. If charged with a misdemeanor, the penalties for violating 1320(a) PC include misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If charged with a felony, the charge will be under 1320(b) PC and the potential penalties are increased to felony probation, a county jail sentence of up to one year or 16 months to three years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

When people are arrested, the process is pretty much the same for everyone. They’re taken to the local police or sheriff’s station, fingerprinted, photographs are taken and a comprehensive national background check is conducted to look for additional warrants. Once all of that is complete, the individual will either be released on their own recognizance or bail is set (for all but a very few) and it will be possible to get them out of jail via bail bond. To some, having to pay bail before being released from police custody may seem like a shameless cash-grab by the authorities — but it’s not. Bail serves a very important purpose in the criminal justice system.

When someone is charged with a crime, they’re going to have to go through the court process to determine whether or not they committed that crime and, if so, what their punishment will be. It’s pretty safe to say that nobody likes being punished, and most folks would do whatever they could to avoid it, whether they deserved it or not. When a person, their family or friends have to put up money to get someone released from police custody pending their trial, it adds a particularly powerful incentive for the defendant to make sure that they appear in court at the appointed date and time.

Despite the financial incentive to follow the rules and appear in court, some individuals still choose to try and avoid law enforcement. When this occurs, they’ll typically be charged with violating California Penal Code 1320 or 1320.5 PC — failure to appear. As you can probably imagine, failing to show up for court when you’ve been charged with a crime is illegal, and these two Penal Codes outline what happens when someone does.

Penal Code 422 PC: Criminal Threats

| Police Blotter | August 24, 2017

Did you know it was illegal to put someone in a state of fear? Under California Penal Code 422 PC, California’s criminal threats law, it’s possible to be arrested just for threatening someone. Not all threats are considered criminal threats. For a threat to qualify, a few criteria must first be met. You must first threaten to physically harm someone and, by doing so:

  • The person is placed in a state of reasonably sustained fear for their safety or that of their immediate family
  • The threat is specific and unequivocal and
  • The threat was communicated verbally, in writing, or by an electronic device

For example, threatening to shoot someone could be considered a criminal threat if the criteria above is met. Additionally, telling someone they had better “watch out” or “watch their back” could be considered a criminal threat. The crime of making criminal threats is taken seriously in California, and it’s possible to be charged with the crime even if you didn’t really intend to carry out the threat, or if you didn’t have the means to. The crime isn’t in the intention of the person making the threat, but putting the target of the threat in fear.

Interestingly, only verbal statements that are spoken, written, or transmitted electronically will suffice for a criminal threat charge. So, if an individual were to make a gesture that indicated “I’m going to kill you,” such as making a gun with their finger and pretending to fire it, the gesture would not be enough to count as a criminal threat even if it put the target in fear. However, if the person making the gesture adds a verbal “pow,” this would qualify as a verbal statement and thus possibly result in a criminal threats charge.

For someone to be charged with violating California Penal Code 422 PC, the threat must be specific. It doesn’t have to be so specific as to state a time or place for the action being threatened to be carried out, but it cannot be vague. Telling someone “I’m going to get you,” without an act of violence or show of force that would place someone in reasonable fear would likely be too vague to warrant a criminal threats charge. It’s also crucial that an individual actually be put into a state of fear for a criminal threats charge to even happen. If it’s obvious that the intended target of the threat was not put into a state of fear, there is no criminal threats charge.

422 PC is a “wobbler,” meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For a felony, the possible penalties include up to three years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

California Code 10801: Operating a Chop Shop

| Police Blotter | August 17, 2017

On Friday, August 11, a police officer shot and killed two dogs as he was investigating an alleged chop shop in Bakersfield.

When officers arrived at the scene, the suspect took off and one of two pit bulls charged an officer, who fired his weapon and killed both dogs. The other officers eventually chased down the suspect and arrested the 23-year-old. At the site of the alleged chop shop, officers discovered a stolen vehicle, a stolen vehicle engine, multiple stolen auto parts and three stolen motorcycles. The suspect was charged with possessing stolen property, possessing a stolen vehicle, operating a chop shop and resisting arrest.

While usually seen in movies and television, chop shops are very real. Operating a chop shop is covered under California Vehicle Code 10801 VC.  A chop shop is defined as anyplace where someone knowingly stores, takes apart, or alters a stolen vehicle or vehicle parts for the purpose of selling it, disposing of it, or altering its identity. In order to be charged with violating VC 10801, a person must knowingly do one or more of the things listed above. For example, if someone were to be asked by a friend to store some car parts in their garage and those parts turned out to be stolen, the person storing them would probably not be charged with operating a chop shop.

An individual charged with operating a chop shop does not have to own the shop itself in order to be charged, nor do they have to be in a supervisory position. Additionally, the chop shop itself doesn’t have to be a continuing operation. It’s enough that a person is actively involved in the operation of the chop shop and that the shop is used at least once for one or more of the purposes listed above.

The penalties for operating a chop shop vary depending on the circumstances of the case. California Vehicle Code 1081 VC is known as a “wobbler,” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Usually, the severity of the charge will be determined by factors such as how many cars or car parts the chop shop was currently working on, the size and scope of the operation, the total monetary value of the items discovered, and the operators’ criminal history. When charged as a misdemeanor, VC 1081 carries the possible penalties of up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For felony convictions, the penalties include up to four years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

Interestingly, California Vehicle Code 2805 VC allows police officers to inspect auto shops and automobiles without a search warrant under certain circumstances. Those circumstances are 1) to locate a stolen vehicle and 2) the search takes place during a time when business operations of that shop will not be hindered by the search. The searches allowed under VC 2805 are only to be conducted on premises where vehicles are worked on as a business, such as an auto shop or garage. Private property is not covered by the law.

The Devil Made Me Do It: What is Competency to Stand Trial?

| Police Blotter | August 10, 2017

The U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone the right to a fair trial. But, what happens when the defendant isn’t capable of participating fully in their defense because of a mental illness or developmental disability? Can a person’s trial be deemed fair if they’re unable to participate in their own defense?

In California, nobody can be forced to stand trial or be convicted of a crime if they’re unable to understand what’s going on in court or rationally participate in their own defense. When someone is charged with a crime because there’s evidence they could have committed it, prosecutors want to get a conviction to hold the person accountable. As such, it can be difficult to prove that someone isn’t competent to stand trial.

In order for someone to be considered incompetent to stand trial, one of the following criteria must be met:
•The defendant is unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings, or
•The defendant is unable to assist their defense lawyer in a rational manner

According to California law, defendants must have a rational, as well as factual, understanding of the proceedings against them. Under this definition, a person doesn’t necessarily need to be insane or suffering from some sort of chronic mental disorder to be considered unfit to stand trial. A person with a severe mental disability would also qualify. While a person with a mental disorder, such as someone who suffers from severe paranoia or delusions, can be found incompetent to stand trial, it doesn’t equate to the insanity defense.

Insanity is a complete legal defense which, if successful, means that the defendant can never be found guilty or punished for the crime. They can still be remanded to a mental institution. When someone is found incompetent to stand trial, they can still be found guilty of the crime they are charged with committing in the future, if they are later determined to be fit to stand trial after mental health counseling.

To determine whether or not a defendant is competent to stand trial a series of smaller hearings are held regarding whether the individual is competent to stand trial. The point of these trials is to understand the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the trial, not if they’re guilty of committing the crime. If it’s determined that, at the time of the trial, the defendant is not competent to stand trial, they are usually sent to a mental health institution to receive treatment in the hopes of bringing them into a mental state in which they are competent to stand trial.

If the competency hearings result in a ruling that the defendant is competent to stand trial, then the criminal trial will proceed from the point at which it left off to determine the defendant›s competency.

Penal Code 192(c) – Vehicular Manslaughter

| Police Blotter | August 3, 2017

Recently, 18-year-old Obdulia Sanchez decided to post a live stream to her Instagram account while driving on a Northern California road. As we all should know in this day of social media, live streaming and driving is not legal, nor safe to do. Unfortunately, this resulted in a horrific crash, taking the life of her 14-year-old sister.

The video began by showing Sanchez driving her car, moving erratically and at one point taking her hands off the wheel. According to CHP officers, she veered off the road onto a shoulder during the video and attempted to overcorrect, which ended up sending the vehicle into a field, where it flipped over and ejected Sanchez’s younger sister who was riding in the front passenger seat without a seat belt.

Sanchez continued to upload her live stream in the aftermath of the crash, and during the video can be seen shaking her sister and attempting to get her to wake up. Authorities and emergency medical personnel who arrived at the scene reported Sanchez being hostile toward them, throwing out racial slurs, spitting on a police officer and kicking an EMT in the face before she was strapped down on a gurney.

At the scene, Sanchez refused an alcohol screening, though it was later confirmed at the hospital that she had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent at the time of the accident. Sanchez was charged with several crimes after the accident, including two charges of vehicular manslaughter and 4 DUI-related charges. She is currently being held in jail in lieu of $530,000 bail.

Vehicular manslaughter is covered under California Penal Code 192(c) PC and is described as causing the death of another person while driving a vehicle by either committing an unlawful act that is not a California felony or a lawful act that may cause death.

For example, if a person is speeding on a highway and collides with another vehicle, killing that driver, they could be charged with PC 192(c). Speeding isn’t a felony, it’s an infraction; so, if a death occurs as a result of that infraction, the driver would be charged with manslaughter. Were an individual to cause the death of another person while committing an act that was a California felony, they would likely be charged with murder – PC 187.

The penalties for vehicular manslaughter will depend on whether or not the death was the result of gross negligence or normal negligence. If it is determined that an individual acted in normal negligence, PC 192(c) is a misdemeanor. Should the defendant be found to have acted in gross negligence, then the crime becomes a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor penalties include summary probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of $1,000. Felony penalties include felony probation, 2-6 years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Tips For Keeping Your Debit/Credit Cards Safe from Theft and Fraud

| Police Blotter | July 27, 2017

With the rise of internet shopping and the use of debit and credit cards every day, it’s easier than ever to make fast purchases, no matter where you are in the country.

Even with the new advent of the use of chip readers, there seems to still be a few issues with the system running smoothly. Merchants seem to be using the chip method more than ever in the effort to keep their customers safer in this age of cyber-crime. However, even with these new measures in place, your personal information could still be at risk for theft or fraud. Identity and card theft does still happen. If it does, you may be able to call your creditor and have them stop any charges, issue you a new card, or reverse any false charges. It’s always good to know your creditors’ policies.

While there’s really no way to be 100 percent safe from being the victim of a crime, one important thing to note is that most criminals — especially thieves, are opportunists; they tend to target those who will be the easiest, lowest-risk victims. That being said, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from identity theft:

•If you’re shopping online, be leery of strange links or shady websites. The internet is full of ads, links and websites designed to trick or catfish users into clicking on them so their information can be easily stolen. If you purchase anything online, stay with reputable, well-known websites. Further, if you don’t receive your merchandise, there’s a safety item built in, meaning you can charge back that purchase within a 60-day window.

•Avoid using debit cards with pin numbers whenever possible. Credit cards allow people to dispute charges that aren’t theirs, and in many cases protections can be purchased to further insulate oneself from fraudulent use of their card. Debit cards are linked directly to the bank account of the holder and when prospective thieves get access to these, they can wreak havoc one one’s finances. Don’t use your pin numbers and sign the credit authorization each time. Should you go to a gas station, pay inside at the cashier if you must use your debit card.

•Further, did you know it is possible for thieves to steal information from your credit/debit cards while they’re still in your wallet? The practice is known as “skimming,” and usually takes place in busy locations where “would-be thieves” see their victim is distracted.

•One way to minimize being a victim of skimming is to only take the individual credit/debit card(s) you plan to use. It may be beneficial to keep your credit and debit cards in your front pocket, where you immediately see what’s going on. Be wary of people who get too close to where your wallet or purse is. Odds are, they may just be oblivious to the personal space of others; better to be safe than sorry. There are now special wallets and card protectors on the market that can insulate your information from skimmers who get too close to you.

These tips are just a few of the many things you can do to help keep yourself and your family safe from debit/credit card or identity theft. Try to remember that thieves are opportunists. The more difficult you make their job, the more likely they are to skip their dastardly deeds all together.

Avoiding ‘Petty Theft’ from Your Automobile

| Canyon Country Magazine | July 26, 2017

Over the past month or so, Canyon Country has seen a spate of petty thefts occur at various dates and times around the city.

Petty theft is covered under California Penal Codes 484(a) and 488 PC and is described as the unlawful taking of property worth $950 or less. If something is stolen worth more than $950, it’s usually charged under a different law — PC 487 — California’s grand theft law.

A few of these thefts happen when thieves simply open unlocked cars and steal items that are inside. Crimes like this are pretty common and are usually the result of opportunity just “presenting itself.” To thieves, it’s much easier and less conspicuous to open an unlocked car, grab any valuables inside and walk away than it is to smash a window or be seen struggling with a door lock. That being the case, would-be thieves are known to actively search neighborhoods and parking lots for cars with open windows or doors they can easily get into.

Locking your doors when you leave your vehicle may seem obvious, and to most folks it is, but it’s something that can easily be forgotten when you’re in a hurry or your mind is preoccupied.

To reduce the chance of falling victim to petty theft from your vehicle, make sure you always double check that your car doors are locked when you leave, park in well-lit areas at night, alarm your car, and try not to leave anything visible in your vehicle. CDs, sunglasses, shoes — it doesn’t matter. If you leave something of value in your vehicle in plain sight with the door unlocked, you’re leaving yourself at significant risk.

If you have questions about any Canyon Country bail related subject, or if you want to suggest a topic, visit Robin at www.santaclaritabond.com or call 661-2299-BOND(2663).

Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC – Felony Reckless Evading

| Police Blotter | July 21, 2017

If you’ve lived in Southern California for any length of time, you’ve probably seen at least one of the many car chases that occur relatively regularly in the L.A. area shown on television. If, for some reason, you haven’t seen one, you’re not missing much and they’re more or less all the same.

They typically begin with a police officer attempting to pull the driver over for a routine traffic stop. The driver, for whatever reason (warrants, possession of a controlled substance, unpaid parking tickets, etc.), chooses to try and escape the police by speeding off. They then lead the police on a high-speed chase down the freeway or through the city until they are inevitably caught.

Once in custody, the suspect will be charged with at least one of three offenses, depending on the nature of their flight from police and what happened during the pursuit.

The first offense is California Vehicle Code 2800.1 — evading an officer. The charge of 2800.1 VC is described as someone fleeing from a law enforcement officer in a car or on a bicycle who is pursuing them. For example, suppose a police officer uses the lights and siren to pull over a minivan on a residential street. The driver of that van has a suspended driver’s license and doesn’t want to get caught. Therefore, instead of pulling over, the driver leads the police officer on a pursuit through the residential neighborhood.

As far as 2800.1 VC goes, it is a misdemeanor with the possible penalties of summary probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 and impounding of the vehicle.

If, in an effort to evade police, the individual drives in a manner that is dangerous and/or reckless, they will probably be charged with California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC — felony reckless evading. Felony reckless evading is a “wobbler” and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Misdemeanor penalties include at least six months and no more than one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Felony convictions carry the possible penalties of 16 months to three years in California state prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Finally, if someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of the suspect allegedly evading an officer (whether they drove recklessly or not is irrelevant), the driver will likely be charged with violating California Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC – evading an officer causing injury or death. If during the evasion someone is injured (and nobody is killed), then 2800.3 VC is a “wobbler.” Misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in county jail, while felony penalties include 3-7 years in California state prison. If someone is killed, then 2800.3 VC is always charged as a felony and carries the possible sentence of 4-10 years in California state prison.

All potential penalties of 2800.3 VC, whether misdemeanor or felony, include a fine of no less than $2,000 and no more than $10,000.

 

Drunk in Public – California Penal Code 647(f)PC

| Police Blotter | July 13, 2017

Recently, actor Shia LaBeouf was arrested in Georgia after a drunken altercation with bystanders and police. According to witnesses, the actor asked someone nearby if he could bum a cigarette. The bystander said no, and LaBeouf responded by verbally assaulting them. Police were called and officers told the actor to leave the premises, but LaBeouf declined and turned his profanity-laced tirade against them instead.

The incident was recorded on a responding officer’s body cam, and it clearly shows LaBeouf acting belligerently to both police and bystanders and shouting profanities. He was booked on charges of public drunkenness and may be facing additional charges of disorderly conduct and obstruction.

Drunk in public is illegal pretty much everywhere in the United States, including California where it is covered under California Penal Code 647(f) PC. It has a somewhat misleading name, as it is not in and of itself a crime to be drunk in a public place in California. To be charged with violating this law, an individual must meet one of two criteria:

They must demonstrate they are unable to care for the safety of themselves or others, or

The individual must obstruct, interfere with, or prevent others from using “public ways” such as streets and sidewalks

The first of these criteria is pretty open-ended, and yet neither of them expressly states the B.A.C. required to be “drunk.” That being the case, a person who is drunk in a public space, even drunk enough to pass out, is not necessarily going to be found guilty of violating 647(f) PC. It also means that a person who isn’t all that drunk could be charged with a violation — it all depends on the behavior one exhibits while in public after consuming alcohol.

Penal Code 647(f) PC is a misdemeanor in California, with the possible penalties of misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Illegal Street Racing – A Dangerous Activity

| Police Blotter | July 6, 2017

A countywide crackdown on illegal street racing has led to the detainment of seven drivers and citation of 102 spectators on Thursday, June 29. The bust occurred in an industrial complex near Witherspoon and Avenue Penn in Castaic. The industrial park is a popular location for late-night, illegal street racing competitions, as it tends to empty out pretty quickly once workers leave.

California Vehicle Code 23109 makes “speed contests” and “exhibitions of speed” illegal on California’s public roads and highways. Per VC 23109(a), a “speed contest” is defined as a motor vehicle racing against another vehicle, clock, or other timing devices. An “exhibition of speed” is defined as accelerating or driving at a rate of speed which is dangerous and unsafe in order to impress someone else. These definitions imply that someone could be in violation of the law even if they’re driving alone and are not racing against someone else.

Excluded from the law are events where people measure the amount of time it takes for a vehicle to cover a distance longer than 20 miles where the vehicle does not exceed the local speed limit.

Not only does VC 23109 make it illegal to participate in speed contests and exhibitions of speed, but it also makes it illegal to “aid and abet” them. California Vehicle Code section 23109(b) and 23109(c) make it a crime to participate in one of the above scenarios by timing the race or erecting barriers to allow the race to occur.

Violations of VC 23109 are usually charged as misdemeanors, and the possible penalties include summary probation, a fine between $355 and $1,000, 40 hours of community service and/or the suspension or restriction of the defendant’s driver’s license from 90 days to six months.

For those with prior convictions under VC 23109, the potential penalties are enhanced to include four days to six months in county jail, a fine between $500 and $1,000 and a mandatory suspension or restriction of the defendant’s driver’s license for six months. If someone other than the driver suffered bodily injury, the potential jail time is increased to at least 30 days and no more than six months in county jail.

If the injury is serious, VC 23109 becomes a “wobbler” that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties remain the same with the exception that the maximum jail sentence is increased to one year. If charged as a felony, the potential jail sentence increases to 16 months to three years, and a possible fine of up to $10,000.

Last, but not least, when someone is arrested on suspicion of violating VC 23109, the arresting officer has the option to impound the defendant’s vehicle for up to 30 days.

Fourth of July and Fireworks Safety in Santa Clarita

| Police Blotter | June 29, 2017

Law enforcement has been working this week to get the word out regarding fireworks safety this Fourth of July. They’ve also been conducting increased operations this week, and plan to continue to do so through the Fourth of July holiday, with the singular purpose of finding and halting any illegal fireworks use.

The legality of fireworks varies among counties and municipalities in California, but in Santa Clarita, they’re banned outright. All fireworks, including those of the “safe and sane” variety, are illegal and should not be used, purchased or possessed. “Safe and sane” fireworks are things like sparklers, smoke bombs, and others that do not create a lot of sparks, ash and embers. If someone is found with fireworks of any kind in their possession, they face a fine of between $500 and $1,000, as well as misdemeanor prosecution.

The law may seem harsh regarding fireworks, but it’s not without good reason. The Santa Clarita Valley is typically dry this time of year, and fireworks pose a serious risk of starting a fire. This year is particularly dangerous, as the rains we experienced this winter have led to increased vegetation growth — much of which is now dried out and ready to go up in flames should a spark find it’s way there.

Thanks to the increased rains and subsequent growth of plant life, this year is expected to be an especially difficult one when it comes to wildfires. Indeed, we have already seen several fires pop up in and around Santa Clarita over the past few weeks.

Wildfires are dangerous and difficult to control. Just this week a fire was ignited on the 14 Freeway that burned 870 acres in about 18 hours. A few areas were put under mandatory evacuation, while several others were given voluntary evacuation requests. Seventy homes lost power, and four firefighters were taken to the hospital for heat-related illnesses. All-told, 250 firefighters have been battling the blaze, and as of the writing of this article, the fire is only 57 percent contained and one structure has been lost.

While local deputies will be keeping an eye out for individuals who use or possess illegal fireworks, that’s not all that law enforcement will be doing this week. Expect increased patrols all over Los Angeles County with police officers watching for drunk drivers. Saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints will undoubtedly be conducted throughout the city to catch anyone who chooses to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Remember to keep yourself, your children and your pets safe this holiday weekend. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Thanks to taxis and the many ride-hailing apps available, there are more than enough ways to get you safely to and from wherever you decide to go. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Canyon Country and Fire Season

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 26, 2017

The temperatures are steadily rising and summer will soon be here. As we move into the hotter parts of the year, it’s important we take extra care when dealing with items that could cause a fire. Several wildfires have already sprung up this year, and more are sure to follow. Luckily, these fires have been relatively mild, and haven’t caused people to lose their homes — an all too possible occurrence, when it comes to wildfires.

Those who live in high-risk areas can take action to protect their homes in the event of a wildfire. Clearing potential fuel sources, such as dry or dead plants, up to a 100-foot perimeter around your home can greatly reduce your home’s risk, as can removing any overhanging foliage. The biggest risk by far doesn’t come from actual contact with a fire’s flames, but from burning embers, which can travel up to a mile or more. Be sure you have ember-resistant vents outside your home, as well as Class A roofing.

Last, but not least, keeping safe during fire season doesn’t just include taking precautions to protect your home, it also means being careful not to light a fire yourself. With the 4th of July less than a month away, people are going to be tempted to light them off. It should be known that fireworks of any kind (even the “safe and sane” variety) are illegal in Canyon Country, the rest of Santa Clarita, as well as other unincorporated areas surrounding this valley. Anyone caught in possession of, selling, buying, or using fireworks could face thousands of dollars in fines, as well as jail time. If one were to start a fire as a result of lighting fireworks, the penalties would be even more severe.

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

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