California

The Legal Mastermind Podcast: Cannabis Law with Los Angeles Attorney Benjamin Reccius(aired 4/1/19)

Lawyer Benjamin Reccius, founder and managing partner of Reccius Law, talked with attorney David Pisarra on The Legal Mastermind Podcast about California cannabis law and criminal defense as well as the unique challenges of running your own firm and being self-employed.

Click here to listen!

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BACKGROUND CHECKS OF CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL RECORDS (LIVE SCAN)

Background checks (especially criminal background checks) are a reality facing any individual seeking employment, citizenship or changes in immigration status, adoption and especially for licensing of professionals including attorneys and doctors. Approximately 2 million background checks are processed each year (including 1.2 million federal level background checks)

Cleaning up your California criminal record and understanding the criminal background check process can be difficult; hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you clear up charges, arrests or other entries can increase your chances of getting a job or even securing citizenship. Arrests which did not result in conviction or aquittal including letting the applicble filing deadline lapse, alternatively, can be sealed and destroyed under Penal Clode 851.91 which is covered in detail in a prevous post about records of arrest which can be sealed under new California law (CARE Act

In California, a request for Live Scan service(BCIA 8016) can reveal criminal records and information about an individual's criminal background held by both the California Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Federal Breau of Investigation(FBI). The DOJ compiles records of arrest and prosecution ("RAP Sheet") by compiling information from courts, police, probation departments, and district attorneys offices. If there are no records of arrest or conviction, turnaround time is typically 48 to 72 hours. If the background check reveals criminal records, the DOJ manually reviews them for a corresponding disposition and prepares the response according to the application type.

Should your Live Scan background check reveal incorrect or incomplete criminal records (including arrests and conviction) you can challenge them by filing a "Claim of Alleged Inaccuracy or Incompleteness" with the California DOJ or, if arrests or other court disposition information, by court order or at the discretion of the arresting law enforcement agency. Expungement of criminal convictions, findings of factual innocence and other relief are available if the records are accurate but are eligible to be sealed or destroyed. A knowledgeable defense attorney can help you understand all legal options available for cleaning up your criminal record and the results of any Live Scan background check. Lossing a job or employment opportunity because of a criminal record which should not be there is sensless so don't hesitate to call us today!

TENANTS RIGHTS LAWSUITS AGAINST CALIFORNIA LANDLORDS

California tenant's rights are numerous and substantial under California landlord tenant law. Lawsuits against California landlords include numerous legal actions authorizing courts to award money damages and up to three times a tenant's damages. California Civil Code 1940 et. al. These California state laws are in addition to federal housing laws prohibiting landlord discrimination against tenants(ADA, FHEA) as well as local city laws providing renters with relocation fees, rent control, and eviction protection. California Proposition 10 recently expanded these renters rights by overturning California Supreme Court case Costa Hawkins.

Tenants should first ask their landlord about the security deposit since most landlords almost always violate the crystal clear language requiring landlords to return deposits or provide an accounting within 21 days of the tenant moving out("21-day rule"). California Civil Code 1950.5. Courts can order landlords to pay a tenant money damages up to twice the amount of the security deposit amount in addition to returning the original deposit amount.

Landlords in California are also bound by the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment and the Implied Warranty of Habitability which are included in every California lease. Cal. Civ. Code 1927, 1940.1, 1941. Where an apartment, condominium or another rental unit becomes unfit for the purpose for which it was leased, a landlord may be liable for the difference between the fair market value of the rental unit and the value of the unit with the condition(s). California Civil Code 1940.1. Bed Bug and Cockroaches (vermin infestation) and inadequate weatherproofing are among many of the per se violations which can entitle tenants to certain rights. Tenants may bring also bring a nuisance action where there is a reasonably offensive condition(high-voltage security lights in a bedroom window, noxious fumes filling home living areas) which interferes with use and enjoyment of the property. Cal. Civ. Code 731; Stoiber v. Honeychuck, 10 Cal.App.3d 903, (1980)

Landlords may also be liable for retaliation by evicting tenants with a 3-day notice to pay or quit or raising a tenant's rent after tenant exercises a legal right respecting his home. These renters rights include contacting the city housing authority or other building and safety department about the rental, using the repair and deduct method to fix an uninhabitable condition in the apartment or home Cal. Civ. Code 1942.5. Landlords can be liable up to $2000 in punitive damages for each retaliatory act against a tenant. A Landlord harassment lawsuit may also be included in a tenant's complaint, especially when the harassing behavior was done with the intent to get the tenant to vacate. California courts may order landlords to pay tenants up to an additional $2,000 per incident of landlord harassment. Cal. Civ. Code 1940.2.

State and Federal law also protect tenants from landlord discrimination based on race, gender, familial or another protected status by holding property owners liable for up to $4,000 per discriminatory act. Federal Housing and Employment Act ("FHEA");

In addition to these federal and California landlord tenant law, local laws such as the Los Angeles Municipal Ordinance provide additional tenants rights and remedies. Apartments, homes and other rental units in Los Angeles, for example, are governed strictly by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO). In addition to providing statutory tenant relocation monies to qualified and eligible tenants and restricting legal causes for eviction, the RSO provides grounds to sue like a legal action for a bad faith landlord eviction. With public policy strongly against slumlords and landlords who illegally try to remove their rental unit(s) from rent control, courts may award treble damages. LAMC

Other actions available to tenants under the Civil Code include Failure to disclose allocation of utilities (Cal. Civ Code 1940.9), Failure to correct building code and other municipal violations within 35 days (1942.4), Unlawful entry (no 24 hours notice)(1954) and failure to install deadbolt locks (1941.3).

A constructive eviction results when a landlord consistently violates one or more of these tenant protection laws and the apartment, home or other rental property is unfit for the purpose for which it was rented. If the tenant vacates the affected unit within a reasonable time of first discovering the condition(s) or issue(s), a tenant is relieved of future obligations to pay rent and be awarded damages related to being evicted. Pierce v. Nash, 126 Cal.App.2d 606 (1954).

Before filing a lawsuit against your landlord, consult with an experienced California landlord tenant attorney or eviction lawyer to get legal advice and possibly a free lawyer consultation about your rights.

California Weed Czar Lori Ajax Says That State Cannabis License Application Will Be Available Online Before January; Temporary Permits Available Even Sooner.

Earlier this month, KQED interviewed California Weed Czar Lori Ajax about the impending state license applications and regulation of cannabis. Click the following to download and listen to the interview:

KQED Interview w/ Lori Ajax (September 8, 2017)

One of the more noteworthy moments came when Ajax said that they are aiming to have an application online before January.  Ajax agreed that this is an "aggressive" timeline for cannabis licensing and regulation in California, but seemed upbeat and confident in its promises.  To be clear--as of the date of this blog post, there are no state licenses.  The only government authorization for marijuana is at the local levels where counties and cities across California are passing ordinances allowing for, in some locals, banning all commercial cannabis activity entirely.

Then, just a few days later, Ajax announced a temporary state licensing program for marijuana businesses during her keynote address before the California Cannabis Business Conference in Anaheim.  While application requirements appear to be minimal, they are issued with the caeviat that temporary license holders may deal in cannabis and cannabis products only with temporary license holders. Click the following to read more about it in MJBusiness Daily:

MJBusiness Daily, "California Plans to Issue Temporary Marijuana Business Licenses" (September 21, 2017)

California City (Kern County) and Port Hueneme (Ventura) are among some of the more recent additions.  Fees and requirements vary so each local's application must be carefully evaluated to properly budget time and money.  Click on the following below to see the ordinances and associated local commercial cannabis business permit and local Conditional Use Permit can be found by clicking on the following:

California City Ordinance, California City Application

Port Hueneme Ordinance, Port Hueneme Application

The long and the short of it is that now is the time to get your local authorization.  Without a local permit or other authorization you are ineligible for a state license (temporary or permanent) so this first step toward full compliance is happening now!