California has new criminal laws taking effect beginning January 1, 2017. From gun control to cell phone regulations and underage prostitution laws, new restrictions will be implemented when the 31st state admitted to the Union rings in the new year.
Three New Criminal Laws for 2017 in California
1. Powdered Alcohol. Assembly Bill No. 1554 regulates the sale of a little-known product, powdered alcohol, and creates a new criminal law. “This bill would prohibit the department from issuing a license to manufacture, distribute, or sell powdered alcohol, as defined. This bill would prohibit the possession, purchase, sale, offer for sale, distribution, manufacture, or use of powdered alcohol and would make the specified violation of these provisions punishable as an infraction.
This bill would impose a state-mandated local program by creating a new crime.” 
2. Sexual assault. Probation will no longer be an option in criminal cases of sexual assault wherein the victim was either unconscious or severely intoxicated. The new law AB2888 states that a victim can’t consent to have sex while unconscious, drugged, medicated, or intoxicated by alcohol. The bill “prohibit[s] a court from granting probation or suspending the execution or imposition of a sentence if a person is convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object, or oral copulation if the victim was either unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication.” 
3. Sex CrimesIn a move that protects young people, anyone under the age of 18 will no longer be charged criminally for prostitution. Instead, children under the age of 18 will be treated as victims under new criminal law SB1322. The bill “authorizes the minor to be taken into temporary custody under limited circumstances.” The bill also states “(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), this subdivision does not apply to a child under 18 years of age who is alleged to have engaged in conduct to receive money or other consideration that would, if committed by an adult, violate this subdivision. A commercially exploited child under this paragraph may be adjudged a dependent child of the court pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code and may be taken into temporary custody pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 305 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, if the conditions allowing temporary custody without warrant are met.”
4. Hands-Free Cell Phone Use While Driving. With over 39 million residents in the state of California, cell phone mount sales will certainly see a spike with the new laws governing texting and driving. With the passage of AB1785, any motion on the phone other than a one finger swipe will be illegal starting January 1st. You will no longer be able to hold your phone in your hand while driving. Using the speaker phone function and voice commands are still allowed so long as the phone is not in your hand. Fines for first offense begin at twenty dollars ($20) and increase to fifty dollars ($50) for subsequent offenses. “(e) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.” 
California Cell Phone Laws and Restrictions
The law that will be enacted on January 1, 2017, also states:
23123.5. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.
(2) The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.
1. AB-1554 Powdered alcohol.(2015-2016). Retrieved on December 28, 2016 via https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1554&search_keywords=powdered+alcohol .
2. AB-2888 Sex crimes: mandatory prison sentence.(2015-2016). Retrieved on December 28, 2016 via https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2888 .
3. SB-1322 Commercial sex acts: minors.(2015-2016). Retrieved on December 28, 2016 via http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB1322 .
4. AB-1785 Vehicles: use of wireless electronic devices.(2015-2016). Retrieved on December 28, 2016 via http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1785 .
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