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New California Laws You Should Be Aware of in 2024

New California Laws You Should Be Aware of in 2024

With each passing year, California generally introduces a number of new laws in January. 2024 is no exception, and several new laws have been signed. California residents should take a moment to review these new laws – particularly those that pertain to criminal justice. With a greater understanding of these changes, residents can avoid needless criminal charges. Furthermore, they can exercise new freedoms that they may not have enjoyed in previous years. While many of the new laws in California bring more strict penalties, others reduce or even eliminate penalties for different crimes. If you have been charged with a crime based on new legislation in California and you are not sure how to proceed, consider discussing the matter further alongside a qualified criminal defense attorney.

New Fentanyl Penalties

Like many other States throughout the nation, California is taking an increasingly draconian approach toward fentanyl. It is no secret that law enforcement agencies take a very low view of this substance, and they are using tougher laws to dissuade both users and traffickers. In light of these stringent measures, it’s essential for individuals facing fentanyl-related charges to seek legal counsel promptly. If you or someone you know is implicated in a fentanyl case, consulting a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer becomes crucial to ensure the protection of legal rights.

The new law that goes into effect in 2024 specifically pertains to the trafficking of a kilo of fentanyl or more. In December of 2023, it was announced that anyone selling or distributing over one kilo of fentanyl would face heightened penalties – including a mandatory addition of three years to the original sentence. In theory, this original sentence could reach up to 25 years for traffickers of more than 80 kilograms of fentanyl. Some critics have pointed out that this could make people reluctant to call 9-1-1 if they are witnessing a fentanyl overdose. 

Increased Penalties for Human Sex Trafficking of a Minor

Those accused of sex trafficking a minor also face heightened penalties. Under the previous law, this could result in a prison sentence of up to 12 years – or 15 years if the child was pressured into the act through force, fear, or deceit. An additional 10-year sentence was also possible under previous law if the child was harmed. 

Under the new law, this crime is now considered a serious felony. This means that it falls under the “three-strikes” system. The bill was extremely difficult to pass, as it had failed on several previous occasions. It was also highly controversial, with those who voted against the bill receiving death threats. As this crime is now under the “three-strikes” system, a convict can face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for a third offense. 

New Hate Crime Laws

Another important development in California’s criminal justice system involves hate crimes. There are now higher penalties for anyone who uses “hate symbols” on various properties. These properties include schools, cemeteries, religious structures, private businesses, and various other public spaces. Examples of these “hate symbols” include swastikas, nooses, “desecrated crosses,” and others. While the previous punishment for this offense was incarceration for up to one year, the new law makes it possible to face up to three years in prison for using these hate symbols. 

New Firearms Restrictions

Firearms owners in California face new restrictions in 2024. The first related law is SB 2, which prohibits anyone from carrying concealed weapons in a range of areas. The total list includes 26 different types of spaces, but the most notable are public parks, playgrounds, churches, banks, and zoos. This ban is in place even if you have a proper concealed carry permit. 

The second restriction involves a firearms tax of 11%, and this will make both firearms and ammunition more expensive throughout the state. The proceeds from these taxes will apparently go toward funds that help prevent violence. 

Increased Workplace Protections for Cannabis Users

Cannabis users should know that in 2024, they may encounter fewer challenges in their workplaces due to their personal recreational endeavors. SB 700 now makes it illegal for employers to request any information regarding the past cannabis use of job applicants. Even if these employers discover evidence of past cannabis use, they are legally prohibited from discriminating against the worker as a result. However, these laws do not apply to federal employees or anyone involved in the construction industry. These are important laws for both employers and employees to consider. 

Six Cities Will Start Using Speeding Cameras

In terms of traffic law, California residents should be aware that six cities throughout the State are set to begin a new pilot program involving speeding cameras. This could lead to a higher number of speeding tickets throughout these major cities. These cities include Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Long Beach, Glendale, and San Francisco. This “pilot program” is not exactly temporary, and these cameras will remain in place for five years. 

“Cruising” is No Longer Illegal

On the subject of traffic, California has dialed back recent attempts to ban “cruising” throughout the state. The new “Keep Cruising” bill goes into effect in 2024, and it reverses previous bans on the practice. Thanks to this new effort, it is illegal for police officers to pull you over or issue fines if you are driving your vehicle recreationally. This might include driving slowly, “bouncing,” and similar activities associated with auto enthusiasts in California. The law specifically bans local cities from creating their own ordinances against these practices. 

Your Vehicle’s Height Will No Longer Lead to a Ticket

In addition, lowriders are no longer illegal in California. “Excessively low” vehicles are no longer against the law, and you now have the freedom to adjust your vehicle’s suspension and height as you see fit. 

Reach Out to a Qualified Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Bernardino County

If you have been searching for a criminal defense attorney in San Bernardino County, look no further than Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP. We know that new laws in California can be somewhat confusing. Fortunately, you don’t need to become a legal scholar simply to defend yourself against criminal charges. With our help, you can learn more about your charges and develop an appropriate defense strategy. To discuss the details of your charges and potential strategies, book a consultation today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.