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Updated Laws for California Residents

It’s a new year – and that means updated laws for California residents. The new year will bring several new laws that will affect everyone. We believe that good lawyering includes preemptive work. This is why we strive to keep clients (and future clients) informed – especially because ignorance of the law is never a defense. Here are some of the labor and criminal laws to know for 2018.

Labor Laws:

Employers can no longer use your earning history to determine your pay

Assembly Bill 168 creates a state-wide ban on employer inquiries into an adult’s salary history. As part of California’s equal pay protection, individuals’ pay on future employment will not depend on earning history. In other words, earning history cannot be used as a factor in determining whether to offer an individual employment or to determine the individual’s salary. It should also be noted that employers are banned from directly or indirectly seeking this type of information about applicants. There are a couple exceptions. For example, if an applicant’s salary history is publicly available (many government jobs make this information available), then the employer may obtain this information. Salary history may also be discussed if the applicant voluntarily discloses the information. However, this exception only applies in instances where the employer does not prompt the disclosure.

Relief for potential employees who have a criminal record

AB 168 aims to improve employment prospects for formerly incarcerated job seekers by banning the box on applications that asks about criminal conviction history. This bill allows individuals to sue employers under the Fair Employment and Housing Act if the applicant is denied employment because of their conviction history. However, the burden is on the employer to justify the reason for refusing to hire the applicant. Denials cannot be based on conviction history, alone. This also means that employment applications can no longer include questions regarding the applicant’s criminal history, and criminal history cannot be a factor in deciding whether to offer promotions. There is one exception. If the employer makes an individualized assessment demonstrating that the applicant’s criminal history has a direct, adverse relationship to the job duties, refusing to hire may be lawful. However, the employer must allow the applicant or employee to dispute the accuracy of his or her criminal history.

Some employers can no longer deny parental leave after the birth of an employee’s child

AB 63, or the New Parent Leave Act and Parental Leave DFEH Mediation Pilot Program protects certain employees, allowing them to take up to twelve weeks of parental leave within one year of their child’s birth. The Act protects employees who work for companies with at least 20 employees within 75 miles. If the employee has at least 12 months and 1,250 hours of service with the company, the employer is prohibited from refusing to allow the employee to take leave after the birth of their child.

Criminal laws:

Stricter gun laws

California is consistently updating its gun laws. In 2018, AB 424 will remove the rights of school administrators to allow school employees to carried concealed weapons on campus. Before this measure, California law allowed school administrators to decide whether school employees could carry concealed weapons on campus. California legislators believe that this measure will increase safety for students. In addition, under AB 725, those convicted of hate crimes are prohibited from owning a gun for 10 years. The new restrictions regarding the purchase of ammunition will also take affect for these individuals in 2018.

Cracking down on individuals who build guns and gun parts

AB 857 requires, by January 2019, all finished firearms to bear a serial number. This legislation is in response to the growing number of people assembling firearms themselves – a process that has become extremely simple to accomplish. Gun owners have until July 1, 2018 to lawfully purchase 80% completed lowers and mill them into finished lowers before having to report them to the California Department of Justice. Note that if a gun owner finishes an 80% lower after July 1, 2018, the California DOJ will require them to file an application for a serial number. This process involves paying a fee and engraving the product with the correct serial number within 10 days. Failure to comply may result in a misdemeanor charge. Gun owners who finish the 80% lower before the July 1, 2018 deadline are still required to engrave it with a valid serial number. However, these individuals do not have to report the serial number or the receiver to the DOJ.

Some defendants must prove they’ve turned over firearms before their case is closed

Prop 63 is another California law that creates stricter regulations on gun control. Under Prop 63, convicted felons, those convicted of violent misdemeanors, and those convicted of domestic violence are required to turn over their firearms upon conviction. These individuals will be required to get rid of their firearms, and prove they have done so before their court cases can be closed. This mandate was approved by voters in a 2016 ballot measure. It is important to note that those who do not follow the new law may face additional punishment.

New jaywalking law

AB 390 creates more lenient laws for pedestrians. Under the current law, pedestrians are prohibited from entering a crosswalk on any signal other than the green “walk” symbol. Contrary to popular belief, before AB 390, it was unlawful for pedestrians to enter a crosswalk during the “wait” countdown. Under AB 390, pedestrians are authorized to proceed into the crosswalk during the countdown signal, as long as the pedestrian is out of the crosswalk before the “don’t walk” signal flashes.

Recreational use of marijuana

Perhaps some of the most talked about laws of 2018 are regarding the changes California will see regarding marijuana. As most people know, as of January 1, 2018, marijuana will be legal for recreational use. However, it is important to note that there are still restrictions on marijuana use. It will not be a “marijuana free-for-all.” Under Prop 64, drivers are absolutely prohibited from smoking (or consuming) marijuana in any way while driving. In addition, passengers are prohibited from consuming marijuana on California roadways. Drivers are also still vulnerable to DUI charges for driving under the influence of marijuana. This means that the smell of marijuana emanating from your vehicle is still probable cause for a search of your vehicle.

Increased punishment for those who record or stream the commission of certain crimes

AB 1542 creates additional penalties for those involved in violent felonies to willfully record or live stream the crime online. Existing law allows a court to use discretion in determining punishment for criminal offenses. The court may consider the record of the case, specific reports received by the court, and arguments in mitigation or aggravation. AB 1542 authorizes a court to consider one additional factor in aggravation. If the person involved in the crime also willfully recorded the crime with the intent to encourage or facilitate the offense, the court may use this factor to increase the punishment during sentencing.

New regulations for DNA evidence in sexual assault cases

Under existing law, law enforcement agencies are encouraged to investigate sexual assault cases by performing DNA testing of rape kit evidence and other evidence in a timely fashion. The purpose of existing law is to ensure a longer statute of limitations. In addition, under existing law, if law enforcement elects not to analyze DNA evidence within a certain timeframe, the agency must inform the victims of certain unsolved sexual assault offenses. AB 41 will require law enforcement to report info regarding rape kit evidence within 120 days of collecting the kit. Agencies will report to the DOJ, and are required to report info pertaining to whether biological evidence was submitted for DNA testing, and whether or not a DNA profile was generated as a result. In addition, AB 41 will require laboratories to provide a reason for failing to test samples every 120 days the samples go untested. Only kits collected on or after January 1, 2018, will be affected by AB 41.

Changes to the Vehicle Code for Uber and Lyft drivers

New California laws creates stricter regulations for Lyft, Uber, and other rideshare drivers. Under the current law, commercial drivers cannot have a BAC above .04% while driving passengers. Changes to the California Vehicle Code broaden the law to include drivers for hire – like Lyft and Uber drivers. Starting July 1, 2018, “it shall be unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. For purposes of this subdivision, “passenger for hire” means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed or expected as a condition of carriage in the vehicle, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vehicle.”

Some drivers are now permitted to tint their windows

AB 1303 creates an exception for current California law forbidding drivers to tint their windows. Under AB 1303, drivers with a certificate signed by a dermatologist certifying that the driver should not be exposed to UV rays may drive with tinted windows. It should be noted that the driver is required to have the certificate in his or her possession while driving.

As you can see, California will experience significant changes in the law in 2018. Our lawyers remain updated as to all laws, as well as their effects on existing laws. If you or someone you know needs representation on any labor or criminal matter, be sure to hire an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in these areas. Our attorneys believe in keeping the public informed, while also providing competent, high-quality representation, should the need arise. Our lawyers are here, around to clock, to answer your questions. Please reach us at (800) 290-5055.