Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Animal Laws » What is Animal Abuse in California?
We love our pets and treat them with care and attention, and try to protect them from harm. California’s laws also try to protect animals from cruelty and abuse, and provide some of the harshest penalties in the nation for those convicted of animal abuse.
Animal abuse in California is a serious offense with serious consequences. But what is “animal abuse”? Certainly, we can all picture obvious acts of cruelty or neglect. But is it possible to unintentionally find yourself on the wrong side of California’s animal abuse law?
“Animal abuse” or “animal cruelty,” while broadly defined under California law, is focused on deliberate or malicious acts of cruelty and neglect. There are a number of California statutes that address animal cruelty and abuse in specific circumstances, such as laws involving transportation of animals, endangered or protected species, and animals in pet shops, as well as laws that specifically prohibit inherently cruel activities like cockfighting and dogfighting. However, California’s main animal abuse statute is California Penal Code Section 597.
Animal Abuse Defined
Under Section 597, animal cruelty is defined as:
Animal Cruelty Can Be a Misdemeanor or a Felony
A violation of Section 597 can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the nature and severity of the conduct involved. A conviction for animal cruelty as defined in Section 597 carries heavy penalties, including:
Leaving a Pet in a Hot Car Can Be Animal Abuse
One of the more common ways you can be charged with animal abuse -even if you had no “malicious,” “intentional,” or “cruel” intent – is to leave a dog or other pet in an unattended vehicle under conditions that may affect its health or safety.
Under California Penal Code Section 597.7, it is a criminal offense to leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to:
Whether you have been charged with violating California animal abuse law for leaving your pet in your car or for any other act, there are defenses that an experienced California criminal defense attorney can assert on your behalf. Please give us a call to discuss your matter. (Also see our article, “5 Illegal Pets in California.” For Nevada law, see our blog article, “A Las Vegas Animal Cruelty Conviction Can Result in Significant Jail Time.”)
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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