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New Criminal Laws Affecting California in 2017

Jan 27 2017, by Jessica McElfresh in Criminal Defense

The beginning of a new year means that a wide range of new laws and changes to existing laws became effective in California on January 1, 2017. Included in these newly effective laws are some significant changes to criminal laws, with an emphasis on sexual assault and prostitution.

Nearly 900 new laws became effective in California at the start of the new year. If you find yourself facing charges that you don’t understand, you should contact a San Diego criminal defense lawyer who can defend your rights.

Call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 to find out how we can help you.

Sexual Assault Sentencing and Statute of Limitations

Two cases that made national news in 2016 lead to changes in the laws related to California’s sexual assault sentencing and statute of limitations. The outrage generated by the sentence given to Stanford student Brock Turner for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman helped lead to a newly effective law that prohibits a court from granting probation or suspending the sentence of a person convicted of sexual assault if the victim was unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication.

Additionally, the national attention given to the sexual assault accusations against comedian Bill Cosby that date back to the 1970s led to the elimination of the statute of limitations for specific felony sex offenses. With the passage of Senate Bill No. 813 there is no longer a statute of limitation for a range of sexual assault offenses committed after January 1, 2017, and to offenses where the statute of limitation that had been in effect had not run as of January 1, 2017.

New Crime for the Possession of Date Rape Drugs

The California Legislature created a new crime related to the possession of drugs commonly considered “date rape” drugs that became effective on January 1, 2017. The new law makes it illegal to possess ketamine, flunitrazepam or GHB with the intent to commit sexual assault. Violation of the new law is considered a felony punishable by 16 months, or two to three years, in a county jail.

Changes in Prostitution Laws Aimed at Human Trafficking

The California Legislature made a strong push to eliminate human trafficking in the state, passing a number of laws in 2016 aimed at the practice. Two of those laws that became effective on January 1, 2017, make changes to the application of laws and sentencing for prostitution in California. Senate Bill No. 1322 makes the laws for prostitution and loitering with the intent to commit prostitution inapplicable to a child under the age of 18 and Senate Bill No. 1129 eliminates mandatory minimum terms of incarceration for someone convicted of engaging in acts related to prostitution.

Change to the Distracted Driving Law

Another change in the law that became effective at the beginning of 2017 does not carry heavy criminal penalties, but does affect tens of millions of California drivers. The prior California law regarding distracted driving prohibited the use of electronic wireless devices to write or send text-based communications and left a loophole regarding the use of wireless devices for purposes such as navigation or music selection. The new law now prohibits the use of cell phones and other wireless electronic devices while driving unless the device is mounted, does not hinder the driver’s view of the road, and the action the driver takes to use the device is limited to a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.

Contact a Knowledgeable San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

The law is constantly changing, and the surest way to prevent unwanted legal consequences is to make sure you are in compliance with the law. San Diego criminal defense lawyer Jessica McElfresh offers experienced and compassionate representation in a wide range of practice areas that include traffic offenses, burglary, and marijuana charges.

If you find yourself facing criminal charges, contact us at (858) 756-7107 to find out how our experience can help your defense.