Penal Code 402b PC - Abandoning an Appliance without Removing its Door

California Penal Code 402b PC is the California statute that says it is a crime for a person to abandon an “appliance,” in any place accessible to children, without removing its door.

An “appliance” under this code section includes objects like a:

  • refrigerator,
  • icebox, or
  • clothes dryer.

Examples of illegal acts under PC 402b include:

  • Dominique purchases a new clothes dryer, gets it installed, and leaves her old one in her yard without removing its door.
  • John discards an old refrigerator in a remote area of a school playground without removing the appliance's door.
  • Daphne buys an icebox with the intent to make a planter out of it; however, before getting to the “DIY” project, she leaves the appliance in her front yard with the door still intact.

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise. These include showing that an accused party:

  • removed an appliance's door;
  • took reasonable precautions to secure the door; and/or,
  • acted out of necessity.

Penalties

A violation is charged as a misdemeanor under California law (as opposed to a felony or an infraction). The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

abandoned appliance california
California Penal Code 402b PC is the California statute that says it is a crime for a person to abandon an “appliance,” in any place accessible to children, without removing its door.

1. The legal definition of abandoning an appliance without removing its door

Penal Code 402b PC is the California statute that says it is a crime for a person to abandon an “appliance,” in any place accessible to children, without removing its door.1

The statute also makes it a crime for an owner, lessee, or manager to allow an appliance, with its doors still in place, to be left in a place accessible to children.2

An “appliance” under this code section includes objects like a:

  • refrigerator,
  • icebox,
  • deep-freeze locker,
  • washing machine, or
  • clothes dryer.3

2. Legal Defenses

A person accused can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed. Please note, though, that it is critical for an accused to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to get the most effective defense.

Three common defenses are:

  1. door removed;
  2. reasonable precautions to secure the door; and/or,
  3. necessity.

2.1. Door removed

To successfully convict a person under Penal Code 402b, a prosecutor will have to show that an appliance's doors were not removed. The facts of a case will determine whether or not the State can make this showing. A valid defense, therefore, is for an accused to use the facts of his case to indicate that an appliance's door was in fact removed.

2.2. Reasonable precautions to secure the door

The language of the statute provides a defense that is available to the vendor of appliances. The statute states that a defendant is not guilty of a crime if:

  1. he is a vendor of appliances; and,
  2. he took reasonable steps to secure an appliance from children.4

A showing of both elements means an accused has a solid legal defense.

2.3. Necessity

Under a necessity defense, a defendant essentially tries to avoid guilt by showing that he had a sufficiently good reason to commit the crime. People sometimes refer to this defense as “guilty with an explanation.” In the context of abandoning an appliance without removing its door, an accused could attempt to show that he committed the crime since he had no other choice (e.g., because of an emergency).

man behind bars
A violation of this law can result in a fine and/or jail time

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

A violation of Penal Code 402b is charged as a misdemeanor under California law.5 The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.6

Please note that in lieu of jail time a judge may order a defendant to misdemeanor probation. This is also called “summary” or “informal” probation.

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to abandoning an appliance without removing its door. These are:

  1. public nuisance – PC 372 and 373(a);
  2. trespass – PC 602; and,
  3. child endangerment – PC 273(a).

4.1. Public nuisance – PC 372 and 373(a)

A public nuisance is a crime under California Penal Code 372 and 373(a).

In particular, it is a crime under PC 372 and 373(a) if a person does any of the following:

  1. maintains or commits a “public nuisance;”
  2. willfully fails to perform any legal duty to remove a public nuisance;7 or
  3. maintains, permits or allows a public nuisance to exist on property that he owns or controls.8

The legal definition of a “public nuisance” in California is anything that:

  1. is injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses or an obstruction to the free use of property; and
  2. interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood, or by any considerable number of persons.9

A violation of PC 372 and 373(a) is charged as a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a fine of up to $1,200.10

4.2. Trespass – PC 602

California Penal Code 602 PC prohibits the crime known as criminal trespass. A person commits this crime when he:

  1. enters, or remains on, someone else's property; and,
  2. does so without permission or a right to do so.11

In most cases, California trespass is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • up to six months in county jail; and/or,
  • a fine of up to $1,000.12

However, certain kinds of trespass in California may lead only to infraction charges, with penalties consisting of only a small fine.13

Further, a person guilty of “aggravated trespass” will face felony charges and could receive a jail sentence of:

  • 16 months;
  • Two years; or,
  • Three years.

4.3. Child endangerment – PC 273(a)

Penal Code 273(a) PC is California's criminal “child endangerment” law. It punishes someone who willfully exposes a child to pain, suffering, or danger.

Punishment under PC 273(a) depends on whether the exposure to the child included death or “great bodily injury.”

If there was no possibility of either, Penal Code 273(a) is a California misdemeanor. And, the offense is punishable by:

  • up to one year in county jail, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.14

If there was a risk of death or great bodily harm, child endangerment becomes a California “wobbler” offense. A “wobbler” may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, in the prosecutor's discretion.

If charged as a felony, child endangerment can include punishment of:

Were you accused of abandoning an appliance without removing its door in California? Call us for help…

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Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Penal Code 402b PC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 402b PC. This section states: “Any person who discards or abandons or leaves in any place accessible to children any refrigerator, icebox, deep-freeze locker, clothes dryer, washing machine, or other appliance, having a capacity of one and one-half cubic feet or more, which is no longer in use, and which has not had the door removed or the hinges and such portion of the latch mechanism removed to prevent latching or locking of the door, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any owner, lessee, or manager who knowingly permits such a refrigerator, icebox, deep-freeze locker, clothes dryer, washing machine, or other appliance to remain on premises under his control without having the door removed or the hinges and such portion of the latch mechanism removed to prevent latching or locking of the door, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Guilt of a violation of this section shall not, in itself, render one guilty of manslaughter, battery or other crime against a person who may suffer death or injury from entrapment in such a refrigerator, icebox, deep-freeze locker, clothes dryer, washing machine, or other appliance.

    The provisions of this section shall not apply to any vendor or seller of refrigerators, iceboxes, deep-freeze lockers, clothes dryers, washing machines, or other appliances, who keeps or stores them for sale purposes, if the vendor or seller takes reasonable precautions to effectively secure the door of any such refrigerator, icebox, deep-freeze locker, clothes dryer, washing machine, or other appliance so as to prevent entrance by children small enough to fit therein.”

  2. See same.

  3. See same.

  4. See same.

  5. See same.

  6. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  7. California Penal Code 372 PC.

  8. California Penal Code 373(a) PC.

  9. California Penal Code 370 PC.

  10. California Penal Code 19 PC. See also California Penal Code 1202.51 PC.

  11. California Penal Code 602 PC.

  12. See same.

  13. California Penal Code 602.8 PC.

  14. California Penal Code 273(a)(b) PC.

  15. California Penal Code 273(a)(a) PC.

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