New Laws for 2011

A number of new criminal laws took effect in 2011. Below are descriptions of three of them. If you have any questions about these laws, or other aspects of criminal defense in California, call me at (916) 442-1200.

Impersonating Another Person OnlinePenal Code 528.5 updates California law pertaining to impersonation. With the advent of the internet and the ability to interact online anonymously or under an assumed identity, it was necessary to revise California's impersonation laws, which date back to 1872.

Specifically, the new law clarifies penalties for people who use the identity of another person online with the intent to intimidate, threaten, defraud, or in some other way cause harm to that other person. Using someone else's personal information and name to create an account on a social networking site or to set up an email account would be examples of online impersonation.

Activities that might result in criminal charges include:
  • Setting up a fake account on LinkedIn and then posting messages or personal data in an effort to defraud the impersonated individual
  • Setting up an email account using another person's name and then sending emails with inflammatory or derogatory content
  • Setting up an account on Facebook with another person's profile and then making comments or posting pictures that result in embarrassment for the impersonated individual
Criminal penalties for violation of PC 528.5 - a misdemeanor - include up to a year in county jail and a fine of $1000. The law also allows victims of online impersonation to seeks damages and other compensation through a civil claim.

Possession of Less Than One Ounce of MarijuanaCalifornia Health and Safety Code 11357(b) makes possession of less than an ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana an infraction. Previously, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana was a misdemeanor, which was punishable by fines and jail time and became part of a person's criminal record. Now, however, it is classified much like a littering or traffic citation, with a fine of no more than $100, no jail time, and no mark on a person's criminal record.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that penalties remain in place for possession of more than 28.5 grams. Call me at (916) 442-1200 if you're facing any sort of criminal charges for drug use or possession. With my past experience as a prosecutor for drug cases and my years as a defense attorney, I can evaluate your case and clearly explain your options.

TruancyPenal Code 270.1(a) allows law enforcement to bring misdemeanor charges against parents of children deemed chronic truants. Penalties include a fine of up to $2000 and jail time of up to one year.

Free and Confidential ConsultationIf you have questions about these laws, or any other aspects of criminal law in California, call me at (916) 442-1200 for a free and confidential consultation.