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Failure to control a dangerous animal – California Penal Code PC 399

Posted by Raoul Severo | Dec 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

Not all animals are to be considered as a pet. Sure, for decades, people have been trying to domesticate many animals and succeeded. We now have a plethora of birds, cats, dogs, and rodents as companions. However, many still remain feral and wild. As a matter of fact, even the ones we have befriended can still be dangerous.

Keeping pets, especially ones that can go out of control, is a big responsibility. One that requires a lot of nuances that need maintenance. An owner should always be in full control in handling and managing their animals, even in a controlled environment such as cockfighting; failure to do so can lead to serious, if not deadly, consequences.

To avoid such things from happening, California enacted Penal Code PC 399 to make sure that owners will seriously hold their responsibilities in handling animals and hold them liable if things go wrong.

California Penal Code PC 399

California Penal Code PC 399 is the statute that penalizes the neglectful failure of controlling a dangerous animal. Under this article, someone is guilty of criminal offenses if:

  • any person owning or having custody or control of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully suffers it to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, and the animal, while so at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, kills any human being who has taken all the precautions that the circumstances permitted, or which a reasonable person would ordinarily take in the same situation, is guilty of a felony.
  • any person owning or having custody or control of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully suffers it to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, and the animal, while so at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, causes serious bodily injury to any human being who has taken all the precautions that the circumstances permitted, or which a reasonable person would ordinarily take in the same situation, is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony.

Punishment for Violating PC 399

Failing to control a dangerous animal lawfully or unlawfully kept as a pet is a wobbler offense under California law. Wobblers are crimes that can be tried and charged on different severity based on the conditions of the case and how serious it is. If the act did not result in death or serious bodily injuries, the defendant could be facing misdemeanor charges. However, if it involves serious physical injury and/or death, the crime becomes a felony.

For Misdemeanors

  • Up to six (6) months incarceration in county jail; and/or
  • Paying a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).

For Felonies

  • Three (3) to four (4) years in a California state prison; and/or
  • Paying a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000)

Civil Liabilities

Under California laws, when convicted of the charges, aside from criminal punishments the defendant owes the plaintiff compensation as a part of his/her civil liabilities. This includes the:

  • Compensatory,
  • General, and
  • Punitive damages.

Compensatory damages refer to the compensation regarding the necessary fees that the plaintiff had to spend during the trials like:

  • Legal,
  • Medical, and
  • Social fees.

General damages refer to the compensation that should be given to pay the hassles that the plaintiff is subjected to like:

  • Emotional, and
  • Mental damages.

Punitive Damages refer to the amount the convict owes the victim and the justice system as a punishment for his/her criminal offense.

Legal Defense

When facing PC 399 allegations, here are some of the most commonly used defenses:

  • The defendant did not own the rogue animals;
  • The defendant did not know about the dangerous nature of the animal;
  • The defendant used all the necessary precautions to control the animal;
  • The plaintiff provoked the animal causing it to attack;
  • The plaintiff ignored the safety warnings about the animal; or
  • The animal under the care of the defendant was not dangerous.

Legal Support

Failing to control or handle dangerous animals is animal neglect. This serious crime can lead to severe consequences for both the defendant and the victims. Being charged with committing such a crime would mean facing serious consequences and punishments. That is why if you or anyone you know ever had the misfortune of being accused of such serious criminal allegations, it would be best to reach out to our pool of California criminal defense lawyers. They have ample knowledge and experience to represent you in the court of law.

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