In 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed nearly 1,000 pieces of legislation into law. Many of these new laws went into effect Jan. 1, 2017. Here are eight new California laws you need to know about.
- No More Bullet Buttons (PC 30515, 30900, 30680)
Assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols and other guns that did not have fixed magazines and instead could be reloaded by using the tip of a bullet or other tool are banned in California. With the passing of Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135 in 2016, owners of these guns will need to register the weapons with the Department of Justice. Failing to do so could result in a sentence of up to 364 days in county jail and a $500 fine.
- Gun Magazine Capacity (PC 32406)
A law prohibiting the sale, loaning and gifting of large-capacity gun magazines or magazines holding more than 10 rounds goes into effect in 2017. Those who wish to buy ammunition must also undergo a background check. Violating this law results in a $100 fine for a first offense, $250 for the second offense, and $500 for any subsequent offense.
- Mandatory Sentencing for Sex Crimes (PC 1203.065)
California courts are no longer allowed to grant probation or light sentences for those convicted of sexual assault. After the Brock Turner case brought California sex crime laws into the spotlight in 2016, Assembly Bill 2888 was passed to ensure a mandatory sentence is handed down to those who are convicted of committing any act of sexual assault.
- Rape Sentencing (PC 803)
Under Senate Bill 813, there will no longer be a statute of limitations for rape cases. This only applies to new rape charges. For older cases, the statute of limitations is still 10 years or, if the victim was a minor at the time of the alleged rape, until the victim turns 40 years old.
- Distracted Driving (VC 23123.5)
Drivers are no longer allowed to hold or operate their phones for any reason. The only exception is for functions requiring one swipe or tap of the finger when the device is mounted in the car. Previously it was only illegal to call or text without a hands-free device. The first violation of the law is punishable by a $20 fine and increases to $50 for each subsequent offense. However, these fines could be much larger when factoring in additional costs and fees.
- Voting Restrictions (EC 2101)
Under Assembly Bill 2466, California citizens who have been convicted of low-level felonies, are not serving a prison sentence, and are on parole or probation can legally vote.
- Prostitution Decriminalization (PC 647)
Under Senate Bill 1322, sex workers under the age of 18 are now considered victims instead of criminals. Police can no longer arrest minors for prostitution or loitering with the intent to commit an act of prostitution. Senate Bill 1129 removes mandatory sentencing for repeat prostitution offenses. Now, there is more flexibility for judges in handing down sentences for those soliciting sex.
- Powdered Alcohol Ban (BP 23004)
Alcohol in powdered form is illegal to possess, sell, make or use, according to Senate Bill 819. Powdered alcohol is freeze-dried alcohol, including spirits, wine, beer, liquor and other substances. It comes in a small pouch and contains the alcoholic equivalent of one normal shot of alcohol. Selling or distributing powdered alcohol results in a fine of up to $500.
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