Fraud can be prosecuted under a number of existing state and federal laws. Nevertheless, we now have a new code section, Military and Veterans Code Section 1821, that increases the punishment for wearing a military decoration and falsely representing to have been awarded it to a misdemeanor from an infraction. In addition a new Penal Code Section 528.5 is added to make impersonation of another actual person on the internet a misdemeanor.
One area where there was a slight nod toward reducing criminalization was in the area of Grand Theft under Penal Code Section 487. Here the threshold for Grand Theft was raised from $400 to $950. Now, this seems fair based on inflation even thought other offenses were not similarly adjusted. And, of course, the decision to allege grand theft or to charge grand theft as a felony is discretionary with the prosecution and is often exercised in favor of leniency.
Another popular type of legislation is anything that will increase penalties or restrictions on sex offenders. There is little opposition and getting tough on sex offenders is a good sell at the next election even if the laws do not make particular sense or simply guild the lily. Hence, the legislature stepped up to the plate and added a number of provisions under what is called Chelsea's Law which took effect as urgency legislation on September 9, 2010.
Under the new Penal Code Section 3053, a sex offender on parole may not enter a park where children congregate, something that they would probably not be allowed to do under their ordinary terms of parole -- but now we have a law. Oddly, though a violation of such a parole term can result in return to prison, this statute has no penalty at all, though the Legislative history indicates it was intended to be a misdemeanor.
More on Sex Offenders
Chelsea's law also increases the length of parole for certain sex-offenders. This may have some incremental effect but, given the existing law on extending prison commitments, many of the people described will never get out on parole anyway. Furthermore, current law provides for extended parole of 5 or even 10 years for certain offenders. Nevertheless, Penal Code Section 3000 includes lifetime parole for habitual sex offenders, persons convicted of kidnapping a child under 14 with intent to commit certain sex offenses and aggravated sexual assault -- the kind of people who generally never get out. It also imposes 10 and 20 year paroles on other specified offenders.
Chelsea's Law also increases the penalties for certain sex offenses dramatically. For instance, punishment for sexual assault of a person under 18, is now increased to 5, 7 or 9 years under amended Penal Code Section 220(b).
Even More on Sex Offenders
New Section 236.1(g)(1) will add a fine of $100,000 to commercial human trafficking for sex purposes of people under 18. Amended and added sections 288(a), 288(b)(2), 288(b), 264(c), 261.4(b) and 286(c)(2) and (d)(2), up penalties for certain offenses against a child under 14 to 3, 6 or 8 years, 5, 8 or ten years, 7, 9 and eleven years, 9, eleven or thirteen years and ten, twelve and fourteen years, respectively.
The aggravated crimes that now carry a penalty of life under Penal Code Section 667.61(f) and 667.61(l) and (n) will be increased to life without the possibility of parole if the offender is over 18 or 25 to life if the offender is under 18. The fifteen year to life term provided for under 667.61(m) is increased to 25 to life if the victim is under 14.
And Yet More
Chelsea's Law also makes a number of other changes. One odd one is that under Penal Code Section 1203.067 certain defendants who are placed on probation are required to participate in appropriate treatment programs. Treatment is now deleted and a "sex offender Management" program is deemed sufficient. The law also establishes the STATIC-99 test as the official risk assessment tool to predict future sexual violence and makes it mandatory that the Department of Justice make the test information about each such person available to the general public through the Department's web-site.
A new Welfare and Institutions Code Section 709 creates a "1368" remedy for juveniles where the juvenile cannot cooperate with counsel. A new section is created, Penal Code Section 602.13, for trespass at Circuses and Zoos and another, by amending 602, for a perpetrator returning to the scene of the crime. Underage drinkers can have immunity from prosecution under three sections of the Business and Professions Code, 25658, 25662 and 25667, for drinking if they bring attention to themselves by calling 911 to report certain emergencies.
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