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Many notable California decisions have shaped not only the Golden State’s laws, but the nation’s too. This frontier state is known for its progressive ideas and policies, although perhaps surprisingly, it has enacted some of the strictest criminal sentencing guidelines in the country.
California was one of 13 states in the nation to allow same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized it across the nation It is also a progressive leader regarding medical marijuana laws in the United States. In 1996, California became the first state to initiate a program for the use of medical marijuana. Under the Compassionate Use Act, individuals with chronic illnesses are allowed to use and even grow marijuana for medical purposes. In the 2016 elections, California citizens passed Proposition 64 that legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
In contrast to its lenient stance on medical marijuana, California’s three-strikes or habitual offender law is one of the harshest in the country. But in the 2012 elections, voters passed Proposition 36 that substantially changed two of the primary provisions. Now, to sentence a 3rd strike offender with 25 years to life in prison requires the 3rd strike to be from a serious or violent felony. It also gave those currently serving a 3rd strike sentence to petition for a reduction of their term if they would no longer qualify for a 3rd strike sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
California is also notorious for imposing stringent requirements on future lawyers, who must pass a moral character examination as well as the dreaded Bar Examination, promulgated by the State Bar of California. About 43% of candidates pass the California Bar each year, compared with the national average of 76.5%. So while the rest of the nation sees an improvement in their bar pass rates, California is experiencing a steady decline. Although the California Bar is longer than exams in most states and it is graded more harshly, another possible reason for the pass rate discrepancy is that California allows those who have not attended ABA-accredited law schools to take the test; additionally, individuals who did not attend law school may still qualify to take the California Bar Exam if they trained for four years with a judge or law firm in compliance with ABA rules and regulations.
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Before selecting a new lawyer, it is important for individuals seeking legal assistance to make sure a prospective lawyer is certified with his or her State Bar and has completed adequate educational training. By using a lawyer locating service such as LegalMatch, clients can easily research attorneys’ backgrounds before hiring them. LegalMatch pre-screens its lawyers and provides clients with background reports on each lawyer, which include educational information, disciplinary records, and former client reviews.
Additional information about the laws and legal procedures of California can be found by searching the following websites:
- California Courts Online
- Legal Services of Northern California
- Southern California Association of Law Libraries
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Last Modified: 02-02-2017 11:26 AM PST