California rang in the new year with more than 800 new laws. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the new laws of 2014 span a wide variety of legal issues. In the context of criminal law alone, the issues range from age requirements on texting while driving to an entirely new parole hearing process for juveniles.
Here are five standouts of the new criminal laws:
- New review for juvenile offenders. Minors prosecuted and convicted as adults for serious crimes will be given a second "bite at the judicial apple" under a new parole hearing process that allows their cases to be reviewed after serving at least 15 years of their prison sentence.
- Taped confessions. To curb coerced confessions, law enforcement officials will be required to videotape key interviews with juvenile murder suspects.
- No past criminal convictions on job applications. Somewhat following in the footsteps of Philadelphia, California state and local governments can no longer ask job applicants about past criminal convictions until they determine an applicant meets minimum qualifications. Bear in mind the law -- which is slated to take effect July 1 -- exempts some agencies, such as law enforcement.
- No texting under 18 -- not even hands-free. Anyone under 18 can no longer use hands-free technology to send or receive text messages behind-the-wheel. Since manual texting was banned back in 2009, the new law effectively bans minors from texting while driving. Period.
- Statute of limitations for hit and run. The new law extends the statute of limitations for hit-and-run accidents in which death or seriously bodily injury resulted. Under the new rule, a criminal complaint may be filed within three years of the offense, or one year after the person was initially identified by law enforcement as a suspect in the commission of the offense, which ever comes later. The upper-limit is six years after the offense.
For extra guidance on how these laws may affect you specifically, consider consulting a criminal defense lawyer.