California Laws: What’s New for 2024

January 2024

By Saul Bercovitch

Hundreds of new laws recently went into effect, and many are of interest to California lawyers. Ensure you are up to speed on changes to the law, some of which are highlighted below. These laws went into effect on January 1, 2024, unless otherwise stated. 

CLA Sections

CLA’s Sections had a successful year with their sponsored legislation. 

The State Bar

SB 40 (Umberg) authorizes the State Bar to collect annual attorney licensing fees for 2024 in the same amount as for 2023. In addition, SB 40, among other things:

  • Enacts statutory language to complement the new mandatory reporting rule adopted this year, Rule of Professional Conduct 8.3, codifying a duty to report attorneys engaged in seditious conspiracy, treason, rebellion or insurrection.
  • Authorizes the State Bar to use the net proceeds from the sale of the San Francisco office to cover employee salaries and operational costs associated with the discipline system and administration of the Bar Exam.
  • Beginning January 1, 2025, prohibits the Chief Trial Counsel from issuing private reprovals to an attorney accused of misconduct.
  • Makes the appointment of the State Bar’s executive director and general counsel subject to confirmation by the Senate. 

Civil Law and Procedure

AB 933 (Aguiar-Curry) expands the communications protected as privileged for purposes of a defamation action to include a communication made by an individual, without malice, regarding an incident of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination.

AB 1119 (Wicks) extends the time period in which a judgment creditor is required to personally serve a copy of the order on the judgment debtor from no less than 10 days to no less than 30 days before the date set for the debtor’s examination (effective January 1, 2024) and makes several changes relating to the collection of consumer debt for judgments awarded on or after January 1, 2025.

AB 1171 (Blanca Rubio) authorizes a licensee under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act to bring an action against a person engaging in unlicensed commercial cannabis activity.

AB 1366 (Maienschein) authorizes the Attorney General to seek disgorgement for violations of the Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law. It requires the funds recovered to be deposited into a Victims of Consumer Fraud Restitution Fund.

AB 1414 (Kalra) prohibits the use of common counts to recover consumer debt and excludes consumer debt from the definition of “book account.”

SB 71 (Umberg) increases the jurisdictional limit in small claims court from $10,000 to $12,500 and in limited civil cases from $25,000 to $35,000.

SB 235 (Umberg) amends the Civil Discovery Act by, among other things, requiring each party that has appeared in a civil action to provide initial disclosures to the other parties to the action within 60 days of a demand by any party to the action, unless modified by the stipulation of the parties. It exempts unlawful detainer actions, small claims actions, actions or proceedings under the Family Code, actions or proceedings under the Probate Code, actions in which a party has been granted trial preference under Code of Civil Procedure section 36, and any party in an action who is not represented by counsel. The bill also increases from $250 to $1,000 the sanction for failure to respond in good faith to a request for production of documents.

SB 365 (Wiener) provides that trial court proceedings will not be automatically stayed during the pendency of an appeal of an order dismissing or denying a petition to compel arbitration.

SB 497 (Smallwood-Cuevas) creates a rebuttable presumption in favor of an employee’s retaliation claim if an employer takes disciplinary action against the employee within 90 days and establishes that in addition to other remedies, an employer is liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000 per employee for each violation of specified whistleblower protections, to be awarded to the employee who was retaliated against.

Criminal Law and Procedure

AB 56 (Lackey) expands eligibility for victim compensation to include emotional injuries from felony violations of, among other things, attempted murder, rape, sexual assault, mayhem, and stalking.

AB 455 (Quirk-Silva), effective July 1, 2024, authorizes the prosecution to request an order prohibiting a defendant subject to mental health pretrial diversion from owning or possessing a firearm because they are a danger to themselves or others, until they successfully complete diversion or their firearm rights are restored.

AB 943 (Kalra) requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to prepare and publish monthly demographic data based on voluntary self-identification information from people admitted, in custody, and released and paroled, disaggregated by race and ethnicity, as specified. Starting January 1, 2025, the data, except for personally identifying information, must be publicly available on the department’s website via the Offender Data Points dashboard.

AB 1539 (Berman) makes it a misdemeanor for any person to vote or to attempt to vote both in an election held in California and in an election held in another state on the same date.

SB 14 (Grove) includes human trafficking of a minor within the definition of a serious felony for all purposes, including for purposes of the Three Strikes Law, except as specified.

SB 241 (Min), commencing on July 1, 2026, requires a licensee and all employees that handle firearms to complete specified training annually and requires the Department of Justice, on or before February 1, 2026, to develop and implement a training course, as specified, including a testing certification component.

SB 376 (Rubio) provides that a victim of human trafficking or abuse has the right to have a human trafficking advocate and a support person of the victim’s choosing present at an interview by a law enforcement authority, prosecutor, or the suspect’s defense attorney and requires the human trafficking advocate to advise the victim of the applicable limitations on the confidentiality of the victim’s communications with the advocate.

SB 452 (Blakespear), commencing on July 1, 2028, prohibits licensed firearm dealers from selling, offering, exchanging, giving, or transferring a semiautomatic pistol unless the pistol has been verified as a microstamping-enabled pistol, if the Department of Justice has determined that microstamping components or microstamping-enabled firearms are available, and makes it a crime for a person to modify a microstamping-enabled pistol.

Additional Resources

An article on New California Laws Going Into Effect in 2024 is posted in the California Courts Newsroom, and the Judicial Council of California has published a Summary of Court-Related Legislation enacted in 2023. Governor Newsom has highlighted landmark legislation that went into effect on January 1, 2024. A broad summary of some of the laws enacted in 2023 is available here.

Saul Bercovitch is California Lawyers Association’s Associate Executive Director for Governmental Affairs.