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For criminal defendants found not guilty in California, the law just changed to make public defenders services free of charge. So long as a person is not convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, a court cannot order that individual to reimburse the public defender's office.

Before the change, a person who utilized the services of a public defender could be ordered to pay for those services regardless of the outcome. The old law required many low income, homeless, and other disadvantaged individuals to pay for a public defender even if they were falsely arrested.

California voters suffered a setback in the fight to make the state safer from gun violence. The ban on high capacity magazines, approved last year by a majority of voters, has been blocked by a federal judge pending the outcome of the case.

The new law, which was slated to take effect this weekend, would have required owners of high capacity magazines to risk fines and criminal penalties just for possessing the ammunition magazines that fit 10 or more bullets. Since 2000, California law has prohibited purchasing or selling these type of magazines. This lawsuit was filed in San Diego by the California arm of the National Rifle Association.

As if Millennials needed another reason to move to Colorado, reports are flowing in that the third highest state has just legalized texting while driving. However, before your thumbs start flying across your touchscreens while behind the wheel, like legal pot, there are a few hazy caveats drivers need to know.

First off, texting while actually driving is not legal in Colorado. The new law will allow drivers to text so long as they don't do it in a "careless and imprudent manner." Lawmakers noted that this includes anytime the vehicle is actually moving. Additionally, if a person is caught texting in a "careless or imprudent manner," they will be facing a much harsher penalty.

Animal abuse is a serious crime, and not just for pet owners and animal enthusiasts. According to the Washington Post, research demonstrates that animal abusers are more likely than the general population to commit violent crimes against people and the FBI recently bumped animal cruelty up to a Class A felony.

The Post also reports that the FBI is tracking cases of animal abuse much in the same way they track homicides, while jurisdictions from Florida to New York are creating registries for animal abusers much in the same way they have registries for sex offenders. And the registries can affect everyone from pet stores to pet sitters.

With opioid addiction reaching epidemic levels in the United States, lawmakers and law enforcers are beginning to realize the problem can't be addressed like most drug crimes. Standard fines and incarceration are no replacement for rehabilitation and treatment and cops, courts, and congresspeople are looking for better alternatives.

While many jurisdictions already have specialized drug courts in place, New York took it one step further last month, instituting the nation's first-ever opiate court designed steer offenders towards addiction treatment rather than criminal prosecution.

The California legislature is considering a new law that would allow prosecutors in the state to bring enhanced aiding and abetting, or even enhanced felony charges, when a felony crime is video recorded. That means that a person who video records a felony could also be held liable for assisting in the crime for making a video.

While the new law is not intended to dissuade innocent bystanders and eyewitnesses from making videos, there is a fear that it will be misunderstood as such. The law is intended to target individuals who agreed to film criminal acts, particularly the individuals that are seeking viral notoriety.

Nearly every state and the federal government has hate crime statutes that can increase penalties for crimes targeting specific individuals based on immutable characteristics like race, religion, or national origin. But the wording of hate crime laws, in terms what they prohibit and who they protect, can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

And different courts might interpret those statutes differently. Just this month, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the state's hate crime law does not cover anti-gay assaults. The ruling runs contrary to what most federal and state courts have said on the matter, and leaves many wondering whether states and the federal government consider anti-gay attacks hate crimes.

Anthony Allen, of Portland, Oregon, is suing the city for nearly half a million dollars as a result of a wrongful arrest that happened in May 2015. While this may seem like a big number, keep in mind that not only was this man wrongfully arrested, criminal charges were actually pursued against him. Thankfully, a jury acquitted him on those charges.

Wrongful arrest cases can be rather difficult cases to prove. Generally, a person asserting that an arrest was wrongful must prove that an officer lacked justification to make the arrest. In Mr. Allen's case, it is alleged that the arresting officer racially profiled him and lacked any probable cause.

The answer to this question, with very little exception, is a resounding: No. If the conviction is on the record, then under both federal and state laws, a person will be prohibited from owning a firearm. Many people are surprised to find out that this even applies to individuals who have been convicted on misdemeanor domestic violence charges. This can be particularly difficult for individuals who accepted no-jail plea bargains to misdemeanor charges in order to avoid more serious risks and consequences associated with fighting felony charges, or just going to trial.

For almost 50 years now, federal law has been rather clear that individuals who have convictions for domestic violence charges cannot legally possess firearms. The Gun Control Act of 1968, as well as the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, explicitly state that individuals may not own a firearm after a conviction for domestic violence, domestic assault, or equivalent crime, as well as when a domestic violence or harassment restraining order has been awarded.

The New Hampshire State Senate voted 17-6 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana yesterday, following a 318-36 vote from the House in March. But the Senate version differed slightly from the House version, so there are a few more legal hoops to jump through before New Hampshire residents can safely carry weed with them.

So what regulations did the Senate sign off on, and what might a finalized decriminalization bill look like?