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California Vehicle Window Tint (CA Vehicle Code section 26708)

In this post, I’m going to discuss California law regarding automotive window tint. Many vehicles are sold new with window tint from the manufacturer. If your particular vehicle did not come with window tint originally, you can also, obviously, get tint installed aftermarket or do the tinting yourself. If you’re in this second category of car owners — in other words, your vehicle was not sold brand new with tinted windows and you’re getting it installed — you need to make sure your tint complies with California law. If it doesn’t, then you could get pulled over by law enforcement officers just because you have illegal tint. If you’re interested in it, the reason why you can be pulled over just for illegal tint has to do with Probable Cause and the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. As I’ll explain below, window tinting on automobiles in California is covered by the California Vehicle Code. There are a variety of court cases in California that hold that any act which appears to violate the California Vehicle Code — including burned out tail lights, expired registration, speeding, stop sign violations, etc. — is sufficient to constitute probable cause that would justify a detention by law enforcement officers. Anyway, aside over, the most common scenario — at least in my experience — is that the tint is darker than California law allows so that’s what I’ll go over below. The California law in question here is going to section 26708 of the California Vehicle Code. Section 26708 goes over several things, including where on the windshield you can legally affix items...

Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property

I live and practice law in California. When it comes to divorces, California is one of nine US states that follow the Community Property system when it comes to dividing property. In theory, community property is a simple idea — namely, the general rules are that (1) whatever the individual spouses acquire on their own prior to the marriage is their own property and is not split up during a divorce, and (2) whatever the individual spouses acquire during the marriage is generally “community property” and, thus, needs to be divided 50/50 in the event of a divorce. To be clear, though, (1) and (2) are just the general rules under the California community property system. There are exceptions under which, for example, an item acquired during the marriage is still the separate property of the spouse acquiring it due to the manner in which the item was acquired. In practice, though, applying the community property system can be quite involved. Over on my Youtube channel, I put out a video a few months back going over some common problems that occur when you try to apply the idea of community property in the real world. Here is the video. If you haven’t seen my Youtube channel, I encourage you to take a look at it as I go over community property as well as various other ideas related to California law also. What I am going to do in this post, though, is try to compare Community Property to the other system — Equitable Distribution — that is in place in the other 41 US states. By the...

California Right to Counsel in Criminal Cases (CA Penal Code section 19.6)

Today’s post will be short. I’m going to go over the right to have a lawyer appointed for you in a criminal case and how that is handled in California state court. Most of you — at least I hope it is most of you — have heard of the 6th amendment to the US Constitution which says the following: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” (emphasis added) The part I’ve bolded and underlined is where a criminal defendant’s right to an attorney comes from. If you’re familiar with the Miranda Warning — or at least seen it on TV before — that also mentions a criminal defendant’s right to have an attorney. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” (emphasis added) What this right to counsel means in the real-world, though, can be quite involved. Some...

California Gang Database (CalGang) Removal (CA Penal Code sections 186.34 and 186.35)

Over the last several months, the Los Angeles Police Department has been involved in a scandal where several of its officers have been accused of adding people to California’s CalGang database without sufficient cause. The Los Angeles Times has reported on this extensively. Some officers have been criminally charged with falsifying the evidence and documentation needed to justify adding someone to CalGang. Allegedly, these officers were fabricating this evidence in order to meet quotas instituted by LAPD’s data-driven culture about how many people they needed to add to CalGang. Failure to meet those numbers would presumably have been used as evidence individual patrol officers were not doing their jobs, not being productive, etc. The LAPD has now been sued civilly for this scandal by people who allege that they suffered injuries (e.g. job loss) as a result of being improperly included in CalGang. In this post, I’m going to go over two sections of California’s Penal Code — sections 186.34 and 186.35 — pertaining to how individuals who have been added to CalGang can challenge their inclusion. These two statutes, obviously, are not specific to the city or county of Los Angeles. If you have a problem with CalGang elsewhere in California, these statutes might be helpful for you as well so read on. What is CalGang? Let’s start from the basics. CalGang is a statewide database maintained by the California Department of Justice. Like any database, it is meant to provide a single source for accurate information about a particular subject that multiple parties can draw upon. According to the CalGang website, CalGang’s purpose is to “provide law...

California Mechanics Liens and Contractor Licenses

In a prior post, I went over the Preliminary Notice (aka “20-Day Notice”) as the first step in pursuing a Mechanics Lien in California. In another post, I went over the importance of having a construction contractor’s license in California. If you don’t have such a license, you’re forbidden from suing if a client doesn’t pay you. You’re also vulnerable to being sued for disgorgement of all compensation you earned while unlicensed. In this post, I’m going to address a question posed by a hybrid of these two posts: can you pursue a mechanics lien if you’re a construction contractor working without the required license? The short answer here is no. If you work in the construction trades and you don’t have the license that California requires you to have, you cannot pursue a mechanics lien against a client/customer who doesn’t pay you. The reason is the same statute I went over in my prior post, section 7031 of California’s Business and Professions Code. Section 7031(a) says: “Except as provided in subdivision (e), no person engaged in the business or acting in the capacity of a contractor, may bring or maintain any action, or recover in law or equity in any action, in any court of this state for the collection of compensation for the performance of any act or contract where a license is required by this chapter without alleging that he or she was a duly licensed contractor at all times during the performance of that act or contract regardless of the merits of the cause of action brought by the person, except that this prohibition shall...
Using An Unlicensed Construction Contractor in California

Using An Unlicensed Construction Contractor in California

Many people, at some point in their lives, hire a construction professional — such as an electrician or general contractor — to do some sort of project, such as a home remodel or addition. California has licensing requirements for many professions (e.g. attorneys), including for those employed in the construction trades. For the construction trades, the main licensing agency in California is the Contractors State Licensing Board run by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. California has too many construction-related licenses for me to go over in this post. What I am going to describe in this post, though, is one important statute that applies when a consumer hires a contractor or other construction professional who is unlicensed. That statute is section 7031(b) of California’s Business and Professions Code, which provides: “Except as provided in subdivision (e), a person who utilizes the services of an unlicensed contractor may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction in this state to recover all compensation paid to the unlicensed contractor for performance of any act or contract.” In other words, the mere fact that a contractor is unlicensed can allow his/her customer to sue for a full refund of compensation paid. For full context, however, we have to also look at section 7031(e) because that section provides some exceptions: “The judicial doctrine of substantial compliance shall not apply under this section where the person who engaged in the business or acted in the capacity of a contractor has never been a duly licensed contractor in this state. However, notwithstanding subdivision (b) of Section 143, the court may determine that there...