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What is Stalking?

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Archive: Sep 2019

What is Stalking?

It is important that everyone understands what stalking and stalking behaviors look like. Being able to recognize them can help people take steps necessary to protect themselves if they find they are the victims.

Being the victim of stalking behavior can be scary. Today, we want to arm you with the information you need to recognize what stalking looks like and what you can do if you think you are being stalked.

Defining Stalking

The U.S. Department of Justice says “Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”

Stalking behaviors are specifically defined in each state’s statutes, which you can read here. Stalking behaviors vary and can take many forms, including:

  • Calling you over and over again even when you’ve told them to stop.
  • Sending constant messages through texts, email, or other messaging apps.
  • Leaving threatening voicemails on your phone.
  • Following you, your friends, or your family members.
  • Sending unwanted gifts to your home or work.
  • Watching or tracking you (including using GPS tools).
  • Threatening you, your family, friends, pets, etc.

Who can be a Stalker?

There is no one answer to who a stalker is. Stalkers can be the following:

  • Strangers obsessed with a person. Many stalkers become obsessed with a stranger and they think their behaviors will convince that person to love then.
  • Stalkers known by the victim. In most cases, stalkers are ex-partners, ex-spouses, coworkers, acquaintances, or even close friends. In 88% of harassment cases, the victim knows their stalker.

How Does Stalking Affect a Victim?

Being stalked is terrifying, even if you know the perpetrator. The unpredictable nature of these cases can have an overwhelming emotional and psychological impact on the victims. Each victim of stalking has a different experience, but victims often experience the following:

  • Guilt, shame, anger, fear, or self-blame
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, nightmares, depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, etc.

What can a Victim of Stalking do to Protect Themselves?

If you think you are the victim of stalking, you can take steps to keep yourself safe.

  • Report this behavior to police. Even if they cannot do anything right away (because the behavior has not crossed into the illegal territory), they will at least be aware of what has happened. Report any subsequent behavior to police so they can establish a pattern.
  • Tell others. Make sure all of your friends, family members, neighbors, school, coworkers, and security (if you have them where you live or work) know that you are being stalked. Show them a photograph of the person stalking you if the perpetrator is known so they know who to look out for.
  • Keep personal information private. Make your personal information as private as possible. This includes all social media accounts. Remove any identifying information like nameplates from your workplace. Shred your mail.
  • Carry your phone everywhere. If you are the victim of stalking, always take your phone with you in case you need to call the police.
  • Keep away from the perpetrator. If you know who is stalking you, stay away from them. Avoid areas where they live or work if you can. If they come near you or threaten you, call the police.

Online Stalking

In many cases, particularly when stalking minors, perpetrators will use the Internet anonymously. They may create fake accounts and pose as someone the victim’s age to gain their trust as they escalate their behavior. In many of these cases, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows, such as a member of the clergy, teacher, coach, or mentor.

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California Leash Law

Californians love their pets. Many cities in California have earned the title of most pet-friendly in the country, including San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento. California has some of the most progressive pet laws as well, including one recently passed law to treat pets more like children than property in divorce cases. As a pet owner in California, knowing the laws that relate to you is one of your duties. Obeying your county’s leash law, for example, could keep you and your pet safely out of trouble.

State vs. County Leash Laws

Universal leash laws are not common in the U.S. Only two states, Pennsylvania and Michigan, have leash laws that extend to every dog in the state. Most other states, including California, do not address the leashing of pets in statewide laws. Instead, they let counties enact municipal leash laws if desired. Several counties in California have passed laws requiring owners to leash and curb their pets in public (and private) areas.

  • LA County. Los Angeles County has a pet law that prohibits owners from letting their dogs run at large on public streets, parks, sidewalks and other public places. It is also against the law to allow dogs to run at large on private property the person does not own. A dog’s leash must not exceed six feet long.
  • Orange County. Orange County has a similar leash law to LA County. Its Code of Ordinances states that no one may have control of a dog on public property without using a chain, leash not exceeding six feet long or another type of physical restraint.
  • Sacramento County. Pet owners in Sacramento County, California may not let their pets run at large. Pet owners are responsible for properly restraining their dogs when on public property, such as using leashes.

Find out the specific leash law in your county, if it has one. If your county does not have a leash law, you must still use common sense in controlling or restraining your dog. If your animal poses a threat to other people or properties, use a leash to control your pet and prevent incidents. Negligent pet control, resulting in an attack, could lead to pet owner liability for damages.

California Dog Bite Laws

Like many states, California has a strict liability dog bite law. Civil Code 3342 states that a pet owner will be legally responsible for any damages a dog causes, regardless of negligence on the pet owner’s part. If the attack happened while the victim was in a public place or private place with the owner’s permission, the pet owner will be liable.

A victim does not have to prove the owner failed to obey California’s leash laws, or even that the owner negligently allowed a pet to run at large. Evidence that the dog bite caused the injuries and that the victim was not trespassing will typically be enough to make the victim eligible for compensation in most cases.

Allowing a pet to run at large could point to liability for a dog attack. In a negligence-based injury claim, a victim could prove a pet owner’s liability by establishing that the owner reasonably should have had the dog on a leash, yet failed to properly control the animal.

If a reasonable and prudent pet owner would have used a leash and prevented the incident, an owner could be responsible for damages in California. The rules of negligence per se may apply if the pet owner broke a county-wide leash law. Negligence per se holds a person responsible without needing further proof of negligence, simply for breaking a law. Understanding the liability rules in your particular dog-related case may take help from a dog bite attorney in Orange County.

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What is Sexual Harassment?

In the wake of the #MeToo movement that has swept across the country over the last few years, many people have begun to understand that sexual harassment has been and still is a major problem in the U.S. workforce. It happens in every industry and at every income level – from the top to the bottom.

What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that sexual harassment can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”

This is a major problem in the workplace. An NPR study has shown that 38% of women have reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. A survey by the EEOC shows that 74% of people think their employers take sexual harassment seriously.

Physical Harassment

Physical Harassment is what most people think of when they hear “sexual harassment” and can include:

  • Any unwanted touching of the body, clothing, or hair
  • Unwanted kissing, hugging, or stroking or the arms, back, etc.
  • Unwanted massages
  • Brushing against or standing too closely to someone

Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment covers comments made in the workplace about a person’s looks, discussion of sexual topics or activities, and calling people names like “sweetie,” “baby,” “sexy,” and more.

Non-Verbal Harassment

Non-verbal harassment is often a more passive form of sexual harassment. It can include things meant to intimidate a person such as blocking doorways, staring at a person, winking at them, and even making sexual gestures.

Threats or Requests

In some cases, supervisors make it known that sexual favors or “dates” are required for promotions, raises, etc. When refused, these are often followed with threats of job loss or demotion.

Most cases of sexual harassment in the workplace never get reported. This is because victims of harassment fear they will be retaliated against by their coworkers or supervisors. When we think of the big cases of sexual harassment in the news, it often involves celebrities or those who were able to find other jobs. However, the reality is that sexual harassment often affects those in low-income brackets who cannot easily switch jobs.

Sexual Harassment is Not Just a Workplace Problem

Though much of the focus of sexual harassment has been in the workplace, we want you to understand that it can happen in other places as well. Any time there is unwanted sexual behavior, whether physical or non-physical, it is sexual harassment. Any time the behaviors we discussed above involve a minor, it is wrong of likely illegal.

Coaches, teachers, volunteers, members of the clergy, and more can all be perpetrators of sexual harassment. You can, and should, report sexual harassment to supervisors or even law enforcement if necessary. When minors are concerned, abuse often starts out with verbal and non-physical grooming. This is harassment.

Perpetrators should accountable for their actions. Survivors should be able to live their lives and work without fear. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual harassment, you may be able to recover compensation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys in Orange County.

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Sheriff Don Barnes | Rueda de prensa NO TE QUEDES CALLADO DENUNCIALOS

Sheriff Don Barnes con entusiasma se une a esta campaña en defensa de los niños latinos en conferencia del arranque de la campaña NO TE QUEDES CALLADO DENUNCIALOS , en la cual se busca ayudar a la entidad latina.

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LOU CORREA (Congresista) | Rueda de prensa NO TE QUEDES CALLADO DENUNCIALOS

Lou Correa congresista de los estados unidos se prepara para esta campaña de suma importancia para los niños latinos, en conferencia del arranque de la campaña NO TE QUEDES CALLADO DENUNCIALOS , en la cual se busca ayudar a la entidad latina.

 

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Jess Araujo | Rueda de prensa NO TE QUEDES CALLADO DENUNCIALOS

Jess Araujo quien encabeza esta campaña invita a todos aquellos que fueron afectas en un caso similar atenderlo ya que esto debe arreglarse, en conferencia del arranque de la campaña NO TE QUEDES CALLADO DENUNCIALOS , en la cual se busca ayudar a la entidad latina.

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Setareh Kathibi | CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE- HOW I OVERCAME IT | ABUSO SEXUAL INFANTIL- COMO LO SUPERÉ

Setareh Khatibi tells her story of sexual abuse and overcoming, in the form of a poem she wrote in both English and Spanish.

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE- HOW I OVERCAME IT The most important video I have made to date.This is the story of a little girl they called Estrellita. I hope that you find healing and peace through this video. Please share. And if you have experienced sexual abuse please report. Here is a confidential Hotline for Spanish speakers that will be protected from any immigration concerns 1-800-248-4100

ABUSO SEXUAL INFANTIL- CÓMO LO VENCIDO El video más importante que he hecho hasta la fecha. Esta es la historia de una niña que llamaron Estrellita. Espero que encuentres sanación y paz a través de este video. Por favor comparte. Y si ha sufrido abuso sexual, por favor repórtelo. Aquí hay una línea directa confidencial para hispanohablantes que estará protegida contra cualquier inquietud de inmigración 1-800-248-4100

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What is Molestation?

When we see instances of sexual abuse and molestation in the news, the definitions of certain things can be clouded. Over the last decade, may high profile organizations have been put in the spotlight of sexual abuse of minors, particularly religious organizations and members of the clergy.

Today, we want to define molestation and discuss how it relates to and leads to sexual abuse. If you have children, it is important to understand all aspects of child abuse in order to prevent it from happening. You also need to know what to do if you suspect your child has been abused.

Defining Molestation of Children

Sexual abuse, which we will define further in a moment, can happen across all ages. However, molestation is generally used to refer to instances of abuse that happen to younger children. When a child is very young, molestation can occur when:

  • A child is forced to touch someone in an inappropriate manner
  • They themselves are touched in an inappropriate manner
  • They are forced to perform oral sex
  • A child made to watch an adult masturbate

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is defined as any sexual activity or sexually motivated behavior done to someone without their consent. As opposed to molestation, sexual abuse happens over a longer period of time and involves actual physical penetration. Child sexual abuse can involve any touching of a minor’s genitals for the needs or sexual pleasure of an adult or older child.

Children cannot give permission for any sexual activity. Even if a child willingly goes along with the sexual behavior, they are not legally able to give consent. In many cases, an adult accused of child sexual abuse or molestation may say that the child initiated the sexual contact. Legally, it is always the adult’s responsibility to stop the activity.

What are Signs that Molestation is Happening to a Child?

There are signs that parents, guardians, and other adults should be on the lookout for when it comes to child molestation and sexual abuse. In some cases, there are actual physical signs and symptoms such as difficulty walking or standing, unexplained bruises, bruising or swelling in the genital area, and sexually transmitted infections. However, some signs and symptoms are not as visible and can include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Withdrawn behaviors
  • Depression
  • Self-mutilation
  • Guilt
  • Bedwetting
  • Problems in school (with grades or discipline)
  • Psychosomatic symptoms (stomachaches, headaches, trouble sleeping, etc.)

Listen to what your child talks about. If there is a sudden interest in sexual activity or sexual topics, this could be a red flag that something is going on.

How Often Does a Minor get Molested or Abused?

We know that around one out of every ten children will be abused before their 18th birthday. Abuse is more prevalent in girls (one in every seven girls is abused), though boys are still often the victims (one out of every 25 boys). In 90% of child sexual abuse or molestation cases, the victim knows their abuser.

If you suspect your child is being sexually abused or molested, contact the police right away. Make sure your child is not put back into a position where the abuse can continue and seek counseling for them. Consider speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer to explore your legal options to help recover costs related to abuse.

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What is a Sex Offender?

You may have heard the term “sex offender” but not quite understood what it means. Today, we want to discuss the sex offender registry in the United States.

It is important to point out that most sexual assaults and rapes are not committed by strangers. In eight out of ten cases, rape is perpetrated by a person known to the victim. Children are sexually assaulted by someone they know in 90% of sexual assaults. Perpetrators of rape and sexual assault can include family friends, teachers, mentors, members of the clergy, and even members of a victim’s family.

What is the Sex Offender Registry?

The sex offender registry is a list of all registered sex offenders in each state. There is a national sex offender database, but each state and local jurisdiction is responsible for ensuring those responsible for registering do so. The National Sex Offender Public Website contains a list of all sex offenders that can be browsed by the public.

The information available on this list varies depending on the offender’s level and each state’s requirements. Typically, it makes available the following offender information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Physical appearance
  • Criminal history

Registries can also include where the offender works and what vehicle they drive.

Who has to Register?

Any person convicted of a sex offense is generally required to register as a sex offender when they are convicted and released from jail/prison. All 50 states have varying requirements for which crimes require offenders to register. Some states require registry for life, while others allow offenders to be removed after a certain number of years for more minor offenses.

Can a Sex Offender Fail to Report?

Depending on the state and the level of offense, sex offenders generally have to report to their local sheriff’s office every 3, 6, or 12 months to update their photo and verify their information. However, any time an offender moves, there are requirements to report changes within 3 to 10 days. They are also often required to report when they buy a vehicle and even when they travel for short periods of time. Failing to report will result in a warrant being issued for the offender’s arrest, and they could face prison time.

How Does this Apply to Me?

If you have children, you should always encourage them not to talk or interact with strangers. You can check the sex offender registry and see if there are any living in your area. You can ask your children to stay away from an offender’s residence. However, we want you to know that 90% of sexual assaults of children are perpetrated by someone the child knows – a family friend, a member of the clergy, a coach, a teacher, or even a member of the family.

While it is important to know where registered sex offenders live in your area, it is also important to know that they could also face danger from people not registered at all. Open a dialogue with your children about what inappropriate behavior looks like. Make sure children know they can talk to you if anything uncomfortable happens to them. Always be on the lookout for signs of abuse.

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California Pool Laws

No one thinks a swimming pool accident could happen to him or her…until it does. A kid sneaking into your pool, someone slipping on your pool deck or a broken drain catching a swimmer’s hair could all lead to tragedy. Drowning is the fifth cause of unintentional injury death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in five drowning deaths involves a child 14 or younger. California recently passed a new law in the hopes of reducing the number of swimming pool accidents, injuries and deaths in the state.

The California Pool Safety Act

In 1997, California lawmakers added the Swimming Pool Safety Act to the state’s Health and Safety Code. This act lists important safety efforts pool owners in the state must obey. The main rule is that pool owners must implement at least one of seven drowning prevention safety features. Drowning prevention features could mean the difference between life and death at a residential swimming pool.

  1. An enclosure that separates the pool from the home
  2. Removable mesh fencing with a self-closing, self-latching gate
  3. An approved pool cover
  4. Exit alarms on the doors that give access to the pool
  5. Self-closing-self latching devices on pool-access doors
  6. Pool or spa motion sensor alarms in the water
  7. Other features that offer equal or greater protection than those listed above

Adding proper drowning prevention features under California’s Pool Safety Act could keep children away from dangerous swimming pools and home spas.

Most swimming pool fatalities involving young children occur in residential pools rather than public bodies of water. Many parents and guardians assume their children know not to go into the pool unsupervised, or else they know how to swim. Making these assumptions could be fatal for children.

Never leave kids unsupervised in a home swimming pool. If you or a loved one was injured due to negligence or non-compliance at a pool, contact us. During a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys, you can explore your legal options.

Update to the Law as of 2018

Twenty years after the Swimming Pool Safety Act first went into effect, lawmakers added to the measure. As of January 1st, 2018, pool owners in California must install two drowning prevention features, not just one. Adding an extra prevention feature could potentially lower the state’s high number of drowning incidents. In 2017, 51 children five and younger died in drowning incidents throughout California. Twenty-three of these deaths occurred in swimming pools.

A pool owner in California must have a fence and a pool alarm, a pool cover and gate, removable mesh fencing and a door alarm or any combination of two safety features to prevent drowning. Law enforcement did not give a grace period to comply with the new law. As of the law’s effective date, all pool owners in the state must have at least two drowning prevention measures, or else they could face legal repercussions for noncompliance.

The two safety measures must meet the state’s requirements. For example, a pool enclosure must have a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens away from the swimming pool. The minimum height for a valid enclosure is 60 inches. The gate, fence or barrier cannot have any gaps greater than four inches, and cannot have any physical traits that could make the enclosure easy to climb for a child under age five. All seven California pool safety features have similar requirements for owners to follow.

Special Daycare Pool Laws

Daycares and other infant care centers have specific pool laws they must obey in California. The law states there must be at least one staff member for every four infants during activities involving bodies of water. These can include swimming pools, ponds, basins, bathtubs and other sources of water children can climb into unassisted. Near other bodies of water, the mandatory ratio changes to one staff member per every two infants. A daycare center that is negligent in providing adequate supervision to infants around bodies of water could be liable for water-related accidents, including unintentional drowning.

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