Cockfighting is a blood sport that involves show cocks or gamecocks. In most cockfighting events, the fighting cocks are pitted against each other inside a ring, fittingly called cockpits. During the match, depending on the rules of the event, the cocks are usually left to duke it out against each other until one can no longer fight. The winner is declared when one of the cocks is incapacitated, if not dead. But no matter which one wins or loses, both cocks will sustain injuries almost every time.
In almost all cockfighting events, illegal gambling is involved. Gamers bet on who will win, if the cocks get to live, or how long the fight will last. Gambling only adds to how inhumane this act is. To discourage people from coordinating or participating in such events, California enacted Penal Code 597b.
Any person who, for amusement or gain, causes any cock to fight with another cock or with a different kind of animal or creature or with any human being; or who, for amusement or gain, worries or injures any cock, or causes any cock to worry or injure another animal; and any person who permits the same to be done on any premises under his or her charge or control, and any person who aids or abets the fighting or worrying of any cock is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
A second or subsequent conviction of this section is a misdemeanor or a felony punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year or the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years, by a fine not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine, except in unusual circumstances in which the interests of justice would be better served by the imposition of a lesser sentence.
Penalties for Cockfighting
Cockfighting is a California wobbler under PC 597b. Depending on the circumstances that surround the case (e.g., how many times it was committed), it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Usually, first offenders are charged with a misdemeanor while repeaters, or someone with multiple charges, will be tried for felony charges.
- Serving up to one (1) year in county jail; and/or
- Paying a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
- Serving up to two (2) to four (4) years in a California state prison; and/or
- Paying a fine of up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000)
As an alternative to jail, convicted offenders can also be subjected to probation if the court sees it fit. Summary probation for misdemeanor offenders while formal probation for felons.
When facing PC 597b charges because of coordinating, aiding the coordination, or just participating in cockfighting events, here are some of the most common defense that the defendant's legal counsel frequently uses:
- The defendant does not have control over the event;
- The defendant was a victim of an unlawful search; or
- There is not enough evidence to pin the crime on the defendant.
Control over the event: The cockfighting event might have occurred on the defendant's property, but he does not have any control or even knowledge about it.
Unlawful search: The law enforcement unit that apprehended the defendant did not follow the standard operating procedure.
Not enough evidence: Unless there is any incriminating evidence that pins the act to the defendant, he/she shall keep his/her innocence.
Facing PC 597b charges for being involved in cockfighting or any other event that compromises animals' welfare for entertainment or gambling. Aside from incarceration and paying for costly fines, as a result of having criminal records, he/she will also have significantly less access to civil and social privileges like employment. To avoid this, the best course of action that the accused can take would be to hire our California-based criminal defense lawyers. They will help lessen, if not dismiss the charges altogether.
- California Penal Code PC 330 – Illegal Gambling
- California Penal Code PC 597b subsection (a) – Compromising animal welfare for entertainment and gambling for all other animals except fighting cocks
- California Penal Code PC 597 – Animal Abuse and Cruelty
- California Penal Code PC 597.5 – Dog Fighting
- California Penal Code PC 597.7 – Leaving an Animal in an Unattended Vehicle
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