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An Introduction to New California Laws for 2016


For the most part, laws come and go without any notice, slipping under the public’s radar because they change so little. In 2016, a slew of bills are scheduled to take effect in California – 800+, actually – that have noticeable impacts all across the board. In particular, changes to crime and punishment procedures, as well as new driving and gun laws, could shake things up for the average Californian. Take a look at these most noteworthy alterations to get a better understanding on what is coming and be sure to consult a Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney from our firm if you are facing charges.

Crime and Criminal Procedures

  • E-Warrants: If the police want to look at your emails, text messages, and GPS data, they need a warrant first. No more claiming the cloud is a “gray area” of public and private information.
  • U-Visas: If an illegal immigrant can be a helpful witness in a criminal investigation, law enforcement must explicitly say so in writing, as this helps them secure a U-visa.
  • Stop records: By 2018, law enforcement must have a system in place that collects data for all traffic stops, focused on the person’s race, reason for the stop, and the resolution. This could create powerful evidence of unfair police profiling.
  • All-seeing eye: Officers that wear cameras on their uniforms will be subjected to increased regulations on how video data is stored and used to prevent “losing” important footage.
  • DNA denied: The state will be barred from collecting DNA evidence from suspects of non-serious, nonviolent crimes, such as drug possession charges.

Driving and Road Rules

  • Staggered payments: People who cannot pay parking citation fines all at once may request an installment plan from their local government office.
  • Automatic voters: The DMV will offer a system of automatic voter registration when drivers receive their licenses (expected sometime in the summer).
  • Hit-and-runs: Charges may be brought against someone for a year after it is determined that they were involved in a hit-and-run accident that caused a fatality. Electronic freeway signs may also be utilized by law enforcement to put out a public APB for cars suspected to be involved in hit-and-runs.
  • Tow limits: A cap is to be placed on fees implemented by tow truck drivers for service and storage, and also requires records that show a tow truck was called to the scene of a disabled or illegally parked vehicle. The intent is to prevent “bandit tow trucks” from picking up random cars for fast cash.
  • Shared bike lanes: Electronic pedestrian vehicles – such as hoverboards and Segways – are permitted to use bike lanes, paths, and roads.

Firearms and More

  • Restricted possession: When a person is deemed dangerous to themselves or others, police and relatives can file for a restraining order than bans them from possessing firearms for 3 weeks.
  • Campus safety: Concealed weapons are banned from college campuses, regardless of concealed weapon permits an individual may possess.
  • Water usage: Irrigation systems are to be modernized for efficiency and indigenous plants are to be used on government property to reduce water usage in lieu of the drought.

If you have more questions about the changes coming up and how they pertain to a legal issue you are currently battling, we encourage you to contact our Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney today. We have handled thousands of cases here at the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., and we have a keen insight into the legal process as a whole. Go ahead and call (707) 418-5352 and request your free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Sonoma County – you will be glad you did.