New Laws for 2013

A number of new laws related to crime and public safety go into effect in California as of January 1, 2013. Below is a summary of their key provisions.

AB 2020 - Blood Test for DUIPrior to January 1, people arrested for DUI could request either a blood test or a urine test to determine whether alcohol or drugs had been ingested. This new law does away with urine tests and mandates the use of blood tests.

AB 1527 - Open Carry of FirearmsThis law makes it a misdemeanor to "openly carry" - in other words, have in plain sight - an unloaded firearm in California cities (incorporated areas). This is follow up legislation to last year's AB 144, which banned open carry in unincorporated areas of the state.

It is already illegal to carry a loaded firearm in public. Open carry of unloaded weapons became an issue in recent years when gun advocates began the practice as a protest against laws limiting what they consider their "gun rights."

The new law does have a large number of exceptions, including:
  • licensed hunters engaged in hunting or on their way to or from hunting activities;
  • active or retired peace officers authorized to carry firearms;
  • sellers displaying firearms at gun shows;
  • individuals authorized to possess firearms at their residence or place of business;
  • individuals transporting firearms to or from locations where firearms are permitted, as long as those firearms are stored in appropriate containers.
Penalties for violation of this new law include up to a $1000 fine and up to one year in county jail.

AB 1971 - Metal TheftTheft of copper and other metals has increased dramatically in recent years. Especially hard hit have been public utilities. Existing law already says that junk and secondhand dealers are prohibited from buying materials that it is reasonable to think have been stolen from utilities, government agencies, or railroads. AB 1971 simply quadruples the fine to $1000 for improper receipt of stolen materials such as copper, lead, iron, brass, wire, and cable.

SB 1462 - Compassionate Release of County Jail PrisonersThis law authorizes county sheriffs to release from jail prisoners who have been diagnosed by medical personnel as terminally ill (specifically having six months or less to live). In addition, sheriffs are authorized to request medical probation for prisoners incapacitated to the degree that they require 24-hour medical care.

SB 9 - Reconsideration of Life Sentences for Juvenile OffendersPrisoners sentenced to life-without-parole for murders committed when they were juveniles now have the opportunity to request judges to reconsider their sentences after they have served at least 15 years of their term. Judges would have the discretion to reduce the sentence to 25-years to life if there is evidence of remorse and rehabilitation.

SB 661 - Picketing at FuneralsThis law makes it illegal to picket one hour before and one hour after a funeral. Penalties are fines up to $1000 and jail time up to six months.