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Animal Abuse Laws in California

Jul 8, 2020 | Animal abuse

California Penal Code 597 (PC 597) Animal Abuse

According to the animal abuse law California Penal Code Section 597 (PC 597), it is illegal to maliciously and intentionally mutilate, maim, wound, torture, or kill an animal.

More specifically, it is prohibited to:

  • Overload, overdrive, or overwork an animal
  • Tormentor torture an animal
  • Impose needless cruelty upon an animal
  • Deprive an animal of necessary sustenance, shelter or drink
  • Subject an animal to unnecessary suffering
  • Beat, mutilate or kill an animal
  • Drive, ride, or use an animal when unfit for labor
  • Abuse an animal in any other manner.

Under this animal abuse law in California, it is also prohibited to maliciously or intentionally maiming, torturing mutilating or a bird, reptile, amphibian, mammal, or fish that is protected or endangered species.

Elements of Crime Under California Animal Abuse Law PC 597

To convict the defendant under California Penal Code Section 597, the prosecutor must prove that he acted maliciously, intentionally, or cruelly when committing the act of animal abuse.

Legal Defenses to California PC 597 Animal Abuse Charges

  • Self-defense or defense of others

The defendant can fight a PC Section 597 charge in case he injured or killed an animal for the purposes of protecting himself, another person, or even another animal. The defendant must present the evidence that he acted reasonably given the circumstances of the incident.

  • Accident

A defendant can fight a PC Section 597 charge in case the animal’s injury or death was an accident and wasn’t the result of any intentional plan, maliciousness, cruelty, or gross negligence.

  • False Accusation

There are plenty of reasons when a person can be falsely charged with a PC Section 597 violation. It can be mistaken identity or a purposeful accusation of another person of animal abuse.

Penalties for Violating California Animal Abuse Law PC 597

California PC Section 597 Animal Abuse can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the facts of the case and.

Penalties for a Misdemeanor Conviction of PC 597 Animal Abuse:

  • Up to one in a county jail
  • A fine of to $20,000

Penalties for a Felony Conviction Are the Following:

  • Sixteen months, two, or three years in the California state prison
  • A fine of to $20,000

In case the animal abuse involved the use of a deadly weapon, the judge can extend the sentence by an additional year.

Moreover, the conviction for Penal Code Section 597 PC violation may result in additional consequences, such as mandatory counseling or the animals being permanently removed from the defendant’s custody. The defendant can also face occupational and professional license restrictions, immigration consequences, loss of rights to own firearms, and more.

Crimes Related to California Penal Code Section 597

  • Cockfighting – California PC Section 597 (b)
  • Dogfighting – California PC Section 597.5
  • Leaving an Animal in an Unattended Vehicle – California PC Section PC 597.7
  • Sexually Abusing an Animal – California PC Section 5
  • Selling an Animal on the Street – California PC Section 597.4
  • Poisoning an Animal – California PC Section 596