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Is the entire 'War on Drugs' about to change?

Sometime this month, Congress is expected to vote on a bill that would decriminalize marijuana altogether. If that happens, it will mark a substantial shift in the nation's "War on Drugs." It could also have huge ramifications both for anybody awaiting trial on marijuana charges and those who have already been convicted on pot charges.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (called the MORE Act), would finally remove marijuana from the federal schedule of drugs established by the Controlled Substance Act. That list categorizes marijuana the same as heroin, as if it has no medicinal value whatsoever.

What counts as a 'deadly weapon' in California?

You were already having a bad day when somebody decided they had a bone to pick with you. The next thing you know, you're in a full-tilt fight in the parking lot outside of your workplace or the bar. When it was over, you were still standing -- but the police had been called. Handcuffs were slapped on your wrists, and you were hauled off to jail.

The charges against you are "assault with a deadly weapon," but it doesn't make sense to you. After all, you didn't have a knife or a gun in your hands at any time, right?

Specialty courts keep many California veterans out of prison

Most people understand that military veterans, particularly combat veterans, have increased risks of a now-familiar list of life challenges. What may slip some people's mind is that contact with law enforcement and criminal courts often increases along with problems such as substance misuse, mood and anxiety disorders, and family and relationship problems.

For more than a decade, California courts have borrowed from recent thinking pioneered in other areas of the legal professions to help veterans accused of crimes by dealing with them in total, as complete people in a complex world.

Consequences of refusing a breath test

Being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) by a police officer in Visalia, California, is a stressful situation. There's so much riding on the traffic stop that can hurt your chances of remaining free. You will want to answer all of the questions from the officer honestly. You also might want to refrain from refusing a breath test during the traffic stop because of the following consequences.

If you choose to refuse a breath test during a traffic stop, you could face immediate jail time and even have your driver's license suspended. These consequences could be levied against you even if it is determined that you were not under the influence at the time of the traffic stop.

The RICO Act gives prosecutors the ability to fight many crimes

In 1978, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to help prosecutors battle organized crime. California has a similar law on its books, as well.

Before RICO took effect, prosecutors didn't have laws on their side to fight organized crime, known as "rackets." Prosecutors frequently could get convictions of only lower-ranking members of the rackets since they only carried out the orders of someone above them - the ones committing the actual crimes.

How to stop yourself from driving drunk

When you're under the influence of alcohol, it's easy to believe you can safely get behind the wheel of your car. Not only is this a bad idea from a safety perspective, but doing so can also land you in serious legal trouble.

There are many simple steps you can take to stop yourself from driving drunk:

  • Choose a designated driver early in the night: Don't look for a ride after you're drunk. Instead, work this out with a friend or family member before your fun begins.
  • Pay for a ride home: It's inconvenient to leave your car where you are, but paying for a ride home is a safer option. You can call a traditional cab, Uber or Lyft. Regardless of your choice, you're safer when you're not driving.
  • Take a minute to think: Alcohol impairs your judgment, which often results in rash decisions. Rather than think things through, you grab your keys, jump in the driver's seat and hit the road. If you simply give yourself a few minutes to consider what you're doing, you're likely to realize that driving at this time is a poor decision.

What can I do when my teen was busted for pills?

Parents often have no idea that their teenagers have a problem with prescription drugs until their child gets arrested trying to buy or sell the pills. While it will naturally be quite a shock, it's fairly common for young adults and teens to experiment with pills.

In fact, a national survey done in 2017 known as the "Monitoring the Future" study revealed -- among other things -- that over 5 percent of surveyed high school seniors used the stimulant Adderall for nonmedical purposes in the prior year.

Is meth making a comeback here in California?

In the 1990s, it seemed like a meth bust was featured nearly every night on the evening news. But, then you stopped hearing so much about methamphetamine because all the media outlets began focusing on the heroin problem.

To some extent, the opioid epidemic that has taken over the United States diverted media attention away from the methamphetamine problem here in our country. In reality, California has a long history with methamphetamine production dating back to the early 1970s.

How long do I have to install an ignition interlock device for?

If you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) by a jury in Visalia or other parts of Tulare County, then you won't just have your license suspended. You'll also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on the cars that you operate and own.

The length of time that you'll have your license suspended for or an IID installed on your vehicle for varies depending on how many DUI convictions you have and whether they're misdemeanor or felony offenses.

Understanding the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)

For many years, the United States has been seeking ways to cut back on the use of addictive drugs. While there's no way to completely do this, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) goes a long way in helping everyone better understand what is legal and illegal in regard to drug use.

This federal drug policy has been in place since 1970 and is designed to regulate the manufacturing and distribution of all types of controlled substances. Furthermore, it categorizes drugs into five classifications.

  • Schedule 1: These are the most harmful substances with examples including LSD, heroin and ecstasy.
  • Schedule 2: Examples include morphine and cocaine.
  • Schedule 3: Examples include Vicodin and all forms of anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule 4: Examples include Valium, Xanax, and Ambien.
  • Schedule 5: Examples include cough suppressants and other drugs that have medical benefits.

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