The United States Supreme Court ruled that a vehicle driver does not give up his or her privacy rights when driving an unauthorized rental car. In the unanimous opinion published in May 2018, the Court found that a driver does not waive his expectation of privacy just because his name is not on the rental car agreement.
Details: Terrence Byrd was driving a rental car when he was pulled over by state troopers in Pennsylvania. The officer asked for the rental car agreement, which only listed Byrd's girlfriend on the contract. Byrd said that he had the consent of his girlfriend to have the vehicle and drive it, but the police believed they did not need consent or another reason to search the car because Byrd's name was not on the agreement. A search of the car revealed multiple bricks of heroin. Byrd was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The Supreme Court ruled that drivers do not automatically give up or deserve diminished 4th Amendment rights solely because their name is not on the rental car contract. This means that drivers in this position receive the same privacy rights as other drivers.
If you are arrested or charged with a crime in California, it is wise to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you are in this position, contact Kellan Martz Law today. With experience in both criminal prosecution and defense, Kellan Martz has the skills and experience to get the best outcome possible for you. Kellan Martz Law offers reasonable prices for legal fees and payment plans for some clients.
We all want to live in peace and quiet. Hopefully our relationships with our neighbors are great, including neighborhood BBQS, 4th of July events, and friendship. Unfortunately, not every neighbor is ideal.
I recently settled a case involving a neighbor who cut own my client's large, well tended tree without permission. In California, a person can be liable for up to 3 times the value of the tree, plus incidental costs (maintenance, stump removal, transportation, etc.) in certain circumstances. After I took on the case, we hired experts, surveyed the property, negotiated the matter, and received a settlement that my client felt was more than acceptable.
It takes hard work, strategy, patience, and a game plan to resolve these matters, but the peace of mind that comes with a successful resolution are worth it in the end. If you are having issues with a neighbor, contact me. I am happy to talk through the issues and determine the best resolution. Property disputes can be stressful, let me help relieve some of that stress and help you move on with your life.
The new year brings with it the hope for a happy and prosperous beginning but also presents challenges, new and old. It is my hope that you only need my services for a positive situation, not to fix a problem. In either case, I am here to help you get through whatever is causing you issues at the moment.
I wish you all a great 2018 and beyond.
California cities, large and small, are working through cannabis regulations after voters passed Proposition 64 in November 2016. Voters approved allowing marijuana plants to be grown in a person’s home while permitting cities to regulate or ban marijuana businesses within their city limits.
Policy questions being addressed include whether to limit the home grows to inside the home or whether the grows will also be allowed in person’s outdoor property, such as a backyard or deck space. Many people are concerned that plants outdoors will leave to a strong odor, while others question whether outdoor grow space should be prohibited with indoor living spaces costing show much money in California.
City councilmembers have also had to decide whether to permit marijuana businesses in their cities. Proposition 64 states that cities can ban marijuana businesses but if they fail to do so, state law would allow the businesses to open. Some cities, like Long Beach, have chosen to put together a comprehensive regulation and application process for medical marijuana businesses in their city – including dispensaries, cultivation, manufacturing, delivery, and lab testing. Other cities have chosen to ban all of these businesses, while other are still working through the implications of allowing these businesses into their communities.
I recently had the opportunity to present information to the city council of Bellflower, in Los Angeles County. The voters in this small city voted to allow some marijuana businesses in their city but left much of the regulation and policy decision up to the city staff and city council. In late April 2017, a group of over 100 interested parties and citizens attended a city council workshop to ask questions and give information, while council members asked questions of staff and attendees. I urged the city council to contact me with any questions and to look towards other cities to find out what works and what has failed.
If you are considering a cannabis company in California, I have extensive experience with the permit processes as well as knowledge about which cities have open permit periods and which cities are closed to new applications. Contact my office today to take the necessary steps toward opening your business. I can be reached at 323-522-4440 or Kellan@kellanmartzlaw.com.
It’s a common scene. A tree sits on the property line or just over the line on your neighbor’s property. It might be ugly, it might be dropping leaves on your property, or it might block your views. Whatever the reason, you want to trim or cut the tree down.
Your motivation might be understandable, but the law in California should make you proceed with extreme caution. In California, a person who injures a tree owned by another person may have to pay double OR triple damages to the tree owner. Damages can include the cost of the tree, maintenance costs for the tree, and more.
All is not lost though, if your goal is to do a minor trim for safety reasons or to limit the number of leaves that drop on your property from overhanging branches. The law generally permits a person to trim the portions of the tree that hang over onto your property, provided that such trimmings do not harm or damage the tree.
In any situation, it is highly advisable to discuss your plans with your neighbor before engaging in tree trimming of any kind. If you and your neighbor are in agreement, put it in writing. That can help avoid many questions if a problem comes up in the future.
If you find yourself in this situation, either contemplating cutting down a tree or because you are the victim of tree damage on your property, a consultation with an attorney is a smart idea. You may reach me at 323-522-4440 or Kellan@kellanmartzlaw.com.
Disclaimer: Please note that this blog post is only intended as general information and is not intended as actual advice about your individual situation, as I do not have any of the facts of your matter. If you need actual legal advice, please contact me or another attorney.
The California gold rush is already here in the form of recreational and medical marijuana. After California voters passed an initiative in 2016 legalizing recreational marijuana, entrepreneurs have been planning how to take advantage of this new market. Cities and counties have been grappling with different laws to allow or block dispensaries, while the state has been busy setting up the state agency and rules that will regulate marijuana. It is estimated that recreational and medical marijuana will be a $4-8 billion industry. State permits will be available to apply for in early 2018 (but expect delays).
If you have been considering getting into the business, now is the time. Some cities in California have already issued licenses to dispensaries (as of March 2017), while others are in the process of voting on city ordinances and accepting applications from interested parties. Others will accept applications later in 2017. For example, the deadline for marijuana dispensary applications recently closed for the City of Long Beach. Long Beach will permit up to 32 dispensaries in the city, after an extensive application review process.
The process to apply for a marijuana business permit can be complicated and lengthy. Some cities are only allowing dispensaries, while others are also allowing cultivation farms, manufacturing locations, and delivery services. Each city and/or county is different. As a business and real estate attorney, I am experienced in the application process and can help you work through the paperwork and state permits required. Opportunities are endless, but you must do it right the first time and not wait.
Proposition 64 passed in California this year with 57% of the vote. The law makes a number of significant changes to marijuana laws in the state, including:
Currently, a number of cities in California are considering permitting and taxing recreational marijuana dispensaries within their city limits. As of December 2016, most cities have not released their applications to the public, but may do so in early to mid 2017. The new law includes many of the requirements that currently apply to medical marijuana dispensaries, including limits on locations (away from schools, churches, etc.), background checks, security requirements, etc.
If you are interested in opening a marijuana business in California, now is the time to start. You can apply for certain licenses now to give you a head start and I can help you wade through the confusing and complex permitting process. The potential to make money and be successful in this industry is great, but only if done right.
My office is ready to help. Call or email me today to get started. My office phone number is 323.522.4440 and my email is email@example.com.
Security deposits are one of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants. I get many calls at my office in Los Angeles, California about this topic. Some landlords see the deposit as free money to take from the tenant and some tenants expect all of their deposit back despite noticeable damage to the rental unit.
In California, a landlord may collect 2x the monthly rent for a security deposit on an unfurnished rental. Example: If your monthly rent is $1,000, the landlord can collect up to $2,000 as the security deposit. However, it is common for landlords to collect only 1x the monthly rent.
Before a tenant moves out, they are legally permitted to request a walkthrough from their landlord to point out areas that need fixed etc. This is a great way to avoid a dispute because it gives the landlord a chance to point out problem areas (holes in walls, chips in paint, damaged countertops, etc) and then gives the tenant the opportunity to fix the issues before the deposit becomes involved. A tenant must request the walkthrough from the landlord and the landlord must complete it upon request. There is no legal requirement about when the walkthrough must be done or requested, but a few weeks before the tenant moves out is a good rule of thumb.
After a tenant moves out, the landlord only has 21 days to return the deposit or to provide a written explanation of why the deposit is not being returned and to explain any deductions that were taken from the deposit. The landlord may also deduct for any unpaid rent.
A landlord can't deduct for ordinary wear and tear, which includes things like faded carpet and paint, small scratches on the paint, etc. This is a common source of dispute, and may require an attorney to help you resolve any issues. If you've lived in a rental unit for a long time, then the ordinary wear and tear would be more than a person who only lived in a rental unit for 6 months.
Landlords and tenants should be reasonable when it comes to deposits. Many times, the money involved is not worth much fighting. However, there are times when it makes sense for either a landlord or a tenant to have an attorney get involved. When that time comes, contact me for a free consultation to answer your questions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-522-4440.
fThe State Bar of California has taken a strong stance against the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) in recent months. The Bar has also been particularly concerned about attorneys assisting non-attorneys with UPL.
Here are a few things to be aware of before the Bar comes knocking on your door (or to know if they have already contacted you).
These issues are complex, fact specific, and confusing. I completely understand how terrifying it is to receive a letter from the Bar asking questions and informing you of an investigation.
I know how to honestly and correctly answer the Bar's inquiries and can help you move past this difficult time in your life. If you have questions or are facing an investigation from the State Bar of California, reach out to me at 323-522-4440 for help and advice, or email me at email@example.com.
Renting out a garage unit without following building codes? Los Angeles landlords beware of this costly mistake
This big mistake could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.
You've just bought a home or property with a garage in Los Angeles. You decide that the garage would make a perfect studio to rent out for extra money. You then spend thousands of dollars renovating the garage into a studio apartment and list the rental on Craigslist and other websites.
A tenant moves in and you start collecting the rent and enjoying the steady stream of income. Sounds like a success, right? WRONG.
In Los Angeles, many properties have garages that were illegally converted in violation of city building and zoning codes. In many of these situations, the tenant is protected under the Los Angeles Rent Control ordinance. The City will likely order you to evict the tenant and return the garage (or other unpermitted space) back to its original condition. But you don't get to evict the tenant until you've paid them relocation assistance.
Relocation assistance varies depending on the number of people in the unit, their income, etc. but will cost the property owner between $7,800 to $19,500, plus potentially thousands more in legal fees, construction fees, city fines etc.
Tenants should be aware of this as well, because they could be eligible for relocation assistance if this happens. In either case, an experienced attorney dealing with landlord-tenant matters will be able to help you.
Kellan Martz Law understands relocation assistance matters in the Los Angeles area and is ready to help you. Call for a free consultation today at 323-522-4440 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.