2016 New California Laws

There are about 800 new California laws that went into effect on January 1, 2016. Here are a few noted by the following topics:

Driving Under the Influence – drivers convicted of a DUI (whether alcohol or drugs) in four California counties [Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento & Turlare], under an existing program that will remain in effect until July 1, 2017 will be required to install an ignition-interlock device (IID) on their cars. The IID registers alcohol on the driver’s breath, and is designed to prevent the vehicle from starting based on a pre-determined level of blood alcohol.

Earbuds – earphones, headsets or earbuds in both ears cannot be used while driving a vehicle or bicycle

Electronic Surveillance – the police, sheriff and law enforcement must first obtain a search warrant before accessing your e-mail, text, social media, data and other electronic information, unless it is determined to be an emergency situation.

Gun ban – those who have a CCW permit (individual who may legally carry a concealed weapon) will not be allowed to bring their guns on school and/or college campuses without advance permission from the school or campus authority.

Gun-violence restraining order – individuals who fear a family member could hurt their self or others can apply to the court for a gun-violence restraining order to limit the person’s access to firearms for up to one year

Medical marijuana rules – a statewide agency will now license and regulate all aspects of the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, storage, distribution and sale of medical marijuana.

Motor-voter registration – adults who apply for or renew a California driver’s license will automatically be registered to vote, although one can opt out if you do not want to be registered.

School Children – must be vaccinated to go to public school

Toy guns – are outlawed (can’t be displayed) in public unless brightly colored such as red, pink or yellow

Work Pay – equal pay is required for men & women. It is not less burdensome for a female employee to challenge her employer if there appears to be a disparity in the pay women receive in contrast to men performing similar work. Employers are also barred from prohibiting workers from talking about their &/or their co-workers’ pay in order to determine wage fairness. The minimum wage in California is now $10/hr. However, fewer minimum wage earners now work a full 40 hour work week as a result of the expanded wage, health, and benefit laws involved in operating a business.

This is a summary only and not intended to constitute legal advice. For the official webpage and guide of the Bills the California Legislature enacted in 2015, click: Bills Enacted in 2015

1st-grade teacher accused of molesting 2nd boy

Stories involving child abuse and harm are some of the most difficult to hear. Unfortunately, reports such as this one are prevalent in our everyday news.

According to this article by Fox 5 San Diego, a South Bay elementary school teacher is accused of possessing child pornography and using it to convince boys to expose themselves online. The 41-year-old was previously charged with molesting a former student. Today, he faces new charges which include allegations of a sex crime committed against a second boy. In addition to previous charges, the suspect now faces 12 counts of committing a lewd act on a child involving a second victim.

The first-grade teacher was initially arrested after agents with the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his home. An investigation discovered the suspect posed as a girl on website called “MeetMe” and persuaded boys to expose themselves live via webcam.

 

Medical Board of California Fall, 2015 Newsletter

The Medical Board of California (MBC) has just published its latest edition of its quarterly Newsletter, and for convenience we are including the link:  Newsletter Fall 2015

There are various sections of particular interest as follows:

A.   Answers to a series of questions that have recently been asked by physicians relating to subjects such as the renewal of your medical license; the requirements for utilizing and/or operating a practice in a name or entity other than one’s own (with the exception of adding Inc. after your true legal name) and the process of applying for a fictitious name permit; guidelines for prescribing pain medications; and the reporting of arrests even though a conviction has not yet occurred.

B.   An update on CURES 2.0 (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) regarding the registering requirements in order for a physician to order, prescribe,  furnish, dispense, or administer Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV controlled substances.

C.   A section on the compliance requirements of Business and Professions Code 805.1  that mandates the reporting by health care facilities and clinics in a case involving the  restriction (for a cumulative total of 30 days or more for any 12-month period) of a physician’s staff privileges, membership or employment; an allegation that a physician has (1)  engaged in sexual misconduct of a patient during an examination or treatment; (2)  prescribed,  administered or used a drug or alcohol to or on him/herself that is either harmful or dangerous to the physician or the public, or impairs the physician’s ability to safely practice medicine;  (3) prescribed, furnished or administered controlled substances to a patient without a medical reason; (4) departed  from the standard of care in the practice of medicine that evinces gross negligence or incompetence and results in serious bodily injury to or the death of a patient.

D.   A detailed explanation and list of tasks that both are and are not permitted relating to the scope of practice of medical assistants.

E.   The subject of medical records, and patient rights.

F.   A list and summary of disciplinary actions taken by the MBC for the period of May through July 31, 2015.  And,

G.  The 2016 schedule of meetings as well as important telephone numbers and contact information for the MBC.

It is hoped the above will be of assistance, however, if you have any questions regarding the California Medical Practice Act, the rules and regulations, as well as the subject of investigations and/or disciplinary actions by the Medical Board of California , whether you reside or practice in or outside of the State of California, feel free to call Sam Spital, Managing Attorney at Spital and Associates, 619.583.0350

Renewal of Professional and Occupational Licenses

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has been utilizing the BreEze online licensing and enforcement system for quite some time. They are planning to transition more of the state Boards and Bureaus to this system.

In the past, my law firm has always encouraged all those who have a state license to submit their renewals as early as 8 to 12 weeks in advance of the expiration date as there can be delays in the processing by the respective California Board or Bureau.

The DCA has recently acknowledged they will have to shut down the system for a brief period of time due to their planned transition noted above and, therefore is currently recommending everyone take this into consideration in filing an initial application for a professional or occupational license, a renewal of an existing license, as well as changes to one’s address of record and/or a change of one’s legal name.

No one should risk not having proof of licensure when they perform their work as that could result in practicing without a license, which can be charged as  a misdemeanor crime.

 

 

 

Governor Brown Extends The Enforcement Power of Board of Registered Nursing

On October 1st, the Governor extended the power of the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) to regulate the practice of Nursing to January 1, 2018 when it will be repealed if a new law is not enacted. The previous sunset law permitted the BRN to impose disciplinary action, and to grant or deny applicants a license, only up until January1, 2016.

Regardless of your politics, it seems futile to ask why our legislature might deem the regulation of nurses &/or professional and occupational licensing to be of no public concern and from time to time enact legislation to repeal any such authority. This comes at a time when there are so many social, financial, community and political needs of our state that instead should take precedence over passing sunset laws related to health care professionals.  If there is a question regarding the abuse of discretion by a state Board, there are other means  by which the legislature can deal with any such problem or issue. Had there been sufficient agreement with the above position, the legislature would have selected another date far in the future, such as 2030 or even later.

The following is a link to Senate Bill 466:  https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB466

 

Local Doctor Accused of Abusing Drugs and Alcohol

A San Diego doctor continues to treat patients despite the fact that he may lose his medical license for abusing alcohol and powerful narcotics, including Oxycodone. The emergency room doctor admitted to stealing another doctor’s prescription pad in order to write himself 5 prescriptions for Oxycodone and Endocet. However, the doctor’s lawyer stated he believes his client is not a threat to patients because he is no longer impaired and has completed a drug rehabilitation program. Furthermore, the article reported the doctor put his medical license at risk with a DUI conviction in 2011. According to the president of the local Medical Society, research has shown doctors have a higher rate of drug and alcohol abuse than the general public.

 

What To Do If You Get A Call or Letter From The Government?

If you receive a telephone call or a letter from the Government, it is extremely important that you obtain experienced legal counsel at once. It may be possible to “nip it in the bud” during the pre-file and/or investigative stage. This is why it’s so important to seek legal advice in the early stages of a case. Do not be naïve to think you can handle it yourself and/or any lawyer can do so on your behalf.

Some lawyers handle a huge caseload, have their junior associates and paralegals perform the work, and may be best described as an assembly line or cookie cutter law firm. You deserve an attorney who will prepare a proper strategy that is accompanied by comprehensive written legal and factual arguments that address the issues.

It is noteworthy that there are several possible outcomes of an investigation, including the following:

1. Closed, the complaint is found to be “unsubstantiated;”
2. Closed, the complaint is found to be “inconclusive;”
3. Closed, the complaint is found to have merit but insufficient evidence to prosecute given the burden of proof and likelihood of prevailing;
4. Closed, an investigative fine is imposed;
5. Referred to the local District Attorney, referred to the State of California Attorney General for the filing of an Accusation, civil complaint and/or an Interim Suspension Order, referred to the U.S. Attorney, local City Attorney, or other Legal Division for prosecution;
6. Referred for issuance of a citation; and/or
7. Referred to another law enforcement agency for prosecution.

How important are the following? Your career! Your personal and professional image and reputation! Your credibility! Your ability to maintain your current and/or have the opportunity to obtain future employment!

If an investigation is opened against you, is the number one priority the cost of your defense? However, does it make sense that the reason a lawyer may charge less is to do less? Is it likely a cut-rate attorney charges a lesser amount because (s)he handles a large volume of cases and, therefore, your expectation of personal service and winning results may be unfulfilled? Is it sufficient for you if the attorney does the obvious and no better than an “ok” job? Do you prefer quality, passion and a dedicated lawyer who is extremely motivated to win, works harder and seeks to go beyond the minimum, with a strategy for a compelling defense and offense? Do you want a lawyer with consistent winning results or are you willing to gamble on the outcome?

When you receive a call, visit or letter from an investigator, consider each of these factors when selecting a lawyer with a proven record and one who will truly fight for you. Remember, the investigator has the government on his/her side with superb lawyers to prosecute their cases and you deserve to have a formidable and premier attorney on your side, and to level the playing field.

Sacramento caregiver arrested in death of 88-year-old

Commentary by Sam Spital, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Professional & Occupational Licensing Attorney:

“On February 13, 2013, the Modesto Bee newspaper and electronic edition published an article in which Silvia Cata, the 52 year old owner of a long-term nursing care facility, Super Home Care, in Sacramento, was arrested for multiple criminal charges, including involuntary manslaughter and felony elder abuse against Georgia Holzmeister, an 88 year old patient who was suffering from Dementia that died as a result of reckless disregard of the basic duties in caring for patients. It was revealed that the victim suffered from blackened, Stage IV pressure sores on her buttocks causing sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when any part of one’s body develops a toxic and severe response to bacteria or other germs. These are more commonly called pressure sores that form when patients are allowed to lie in one position for extended periods of time or simply not given the proper attention that requires their body to be frequently rotated while confined to bed.

It is an elementary principal of nursing care that patients should not be permitted to lie in bed for any extended length of time without being taken out of bed, taken to the bathroom, use walkers or wheelchairs if not ambulatory,  and of course receive regular care and attention. Unfortunately, some long term care facilities operate on a very low budget due to the nominal reimbursement from Medicare and Medi-Cal; yet, this is inexcusable and the Administrators and nursing personnel have an ethical, moral and legal responsibility to place the patient above the financial remuneration they may receive. If it is not possible to make a profit and do the right thing for their patients, the facility should close its operations. In this case, the California Department of Social Services (DSS) ordered an involuntary closure pursuant to an interim suspension order according to the article.

A Deputy Attorney General will be prosecuting the case for the California Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud, and the defendant faces up to 12 years in state prison. The author of the article did not provide any details or information regarding the number and licensure of employees of the facility, the census of the facility in question, prior employment or business history of the defendant nor indicate whether contact was made with defense lawyers that handle such cases. It appears this is the first manslaughter criminal case in California that has been filed against an owner of a nursing facility. The case has been reported in countless print and electronic media due to the gravity of the situation.

The following link: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/occupations/Documents/NursingHomeAdministratorAct.pdf provides a detailed outline and summary of the Nursing Home Administrator Act and the rules and regulations that govern Administrators. No Nursing Home Administrator license or Certified Nurse Assistant license could be found by my law firm in searching the online data for Sylvia Cata, the defendant in this criminal case.  A search of the BRN and BVNPT websites also failed to show an LVN or RN license issued to Ms. Cata.

Family members will likely file a wrongful death lawsuit against the long term care facility as well as the owner, and any of the employees and personnel who were negligent and caused the deadly injuries in the case at hand. This may also include the attending physician, nurses, and anyone that may have billed Medi-Cal and Medicare (such as a physical therapist, podiatrist, occupational therapist, etc. if any of these health care providers were in attendance on one or more days in the period of time leading up to the death of Ms. Holzmeister).

Defense counsel will need to perform a thorough and exhaustive investigation including conferring with the employees of the facility; patients and family members; pharmacists and doctors; utilize forensic experts to develop a defense; and in launching an offense seek to establish compelling mitigating facts and circumstances.”

–Sam Spital

 

Tierrasanta Teacher Had Gun on Campus: Police – Teacher removed from school and placed on administrative leave

Commentary by Attorney Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer:

“NBC Channel 7 digital news reported on February 12, 2013 that Ted Walker, a 41 year old teacher at Farb Middle School as well as a ten year employee of the San Diego Unified School District, faces felony charges of possession of a firearm and a knife with a locking blade on school grounds. Parents were surprised when they learned of the arrest after being notified by email, telephone and/or via the internet. An investigation is currently being conducted to determine how long Walker had been carrying a concealed weapon and whether he has a permit to do so. Other details were not revealed by law enforcement, including the motivation of the teacher and whether any others at the school carry any weapons for protection.

In recent months, there has been a redoubled awareness of the continued and escalating violence at schools; as a result the issue of administrators and teachers being able to obtain a concealed gun permit besides school police carrying a weapon has been reported throughout the country. On the one hand this will require adequate training of such individuals as well as establishing guidelines for storing of guns and/or weapons, while on the other hand legislators and pundits have opined gun-free zones make schools in general and the public in particular easy targets for those that are prone to crime and violence.”

–Sam Spital

State Board License Diversion Program

A Diversion Program is intended to provide an alternative for a professional who is licensed in the State of California when there is evidence of a substance abuse and/or impairment due to a mental illness who would otherwise be charged with wrongdoing . One should not be embarrassed by what may appear to be a shortcoming as there are over forty (40) different  life stressors, multiple daily work pressures, and everyone should understand some challenges are simply genetic.

Obtaining a painstaking medical history and physical examination can afford the best way to evaluate your situation. Since this may also involve critical legal issues, however, seeking the advice of experienced legal counsel should be a paramount consideration as well.   A truly understanding and compassionate lawyer can discuss your eligibility, the  legal alternatives, as well as  the advantages and disadvantages of the course of action you may consider.

At the law firm of SPITAL & ASSOCIATES, you can obtain a confidential attorney consultation  at no charge, and we can help you identify the symptoms that may exist, if any,  and to assist you in changing the outcome.   There can be unintended consequences you need to fully understand when you have a professional or occupational license and, therefore, this may be a defining moment in your career. As our public service, we are here to help you so that you do not gamble on your career

Choosing the best course of action can make a huge difference now and in the future.

 

 

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