Animal Cruelty Punishments in California

violence against animals. man presses his foot on the dog’s head.

Animal Cruelty Punishments in California

They often say that dogs are a man’s best friend. Many of us have had pets in our lives or frequently encounter them on the street or with family and friends. However, not all pets are treated with respect and care. Unfortunately, animal abuse does take place and the California criminal code ensures there are laws in place to punish those found guilty of animal cruelty and abuse.

The Elements of the Crime

According to California Penal Code 597 PC, it isn’t just illegal to physical abuse the animal, as the penal code also includes cruel deprivations of life necessities for the animal. As is often associated with animal abuse, the prosecution can prove that the defendant intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, or wounded an animal. The law doesn’t stop there. A prosecutor can also prove that the defendant intentionally killed an animal, deprived it of necessities, or through overworking the animal, the defendant acted cruelly.

Punishments for the Crime

Police officers can charge someone with this crime if the officers witness it themselves, but they can also arrest someone if another person (like a witness or a doctor) comes forward with important information. If the prosecution proves the relevant elements, the defendant faces either a misdemeanor or a felony conviction. In the case of a misdemeanor, the defendant can be forced to pay a $20,000 fine as well as spending time in jail. A felony can have the same fine as well as a prison sentence.

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