New Year’s Round Up: The Criminal Law Changes That Will Take Place in 2016

With the New year just starting, a lot of new criminal laws will be effective that may affect you.  There have been 807 bills signed into law set to take place in the new year, affecting everything from gun ownership, new regulations on medical marijuana, and health insurance. This blog aims to give you the run-down of the most important laws that may affect you.

Medical Marijuana

In August 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a measure which would allow steep civil fines for marijuana farms that damage the environment by dumping wastewater and chemicals, removing trees, and killing wild animals. It was meant to target illegally operating marijuana farms which are damaging the state’s watershed system in the midst of a historic mega drought.

Investigators found over 135 dams or diversions in rivers and streams that resulted in the theft of about 5 million gallons of water for marijuana grows. The new law would provide for fines up to $40,000 for illegally dumping into rivers and fines up to $10,000 for illegally trapping and killing wildlife.

Police Searches and Forfeitures

Police must now obtain a warrant in order to search through one’s private emails, text messages and GPS data stored in smartphones, laptops, and the cloud. See SB 178.

Additionally, Governor Brown signed SB 676 in September 2015, which would allow prosecutors to seek forfeiture of images and the data storage device used in “revenge porn” cases.

Lastly, the state may no longer collect DNA samples from suspected criminals who are being held for non-serious felonies, such as nonviolent drug crimes.

Possession of Firearms

Police officers or family members may seek a restraining order that bars a person deemed dangerous from possessing a firearm for 21 days. This restraining order is intended to be temporary. See AB 1014.

Police Accountability

Police are required by 2018, to develop a system to report data on the perceived race and ethnicity of civilians they stop, as part of the state’s attempt to combat racial profiling.

They must also detail annual reports on all cases that where police conduct result in serious injury or death.

Lastly, police departments that outfit their officers with cameras must follow certain rules to make sure the video and storage is not mishandled or lost.

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje has handled all types of Misdemeanor and Felony criminal cases in San Diego County, including possession of illicit substances, possession of firearms, and violent and nonviolent crimes. With the slew of new laws that will be effective, it is nearly impossible for one to keep up with all of them. These new changes can cause confusion and inadvertently cause someone who did not intend to commit a crime, to face criminal charges. Do not try to fight these charges alone. Contact our office today and ask for a free, confidential consultation to see how we may be able to put our experience to use to help you.