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Animal Cruelty Charges In LA


Animal Cruelty Or Animal Abuse Charges In LA – Penal Code Section 597

If you’re charged with an animal abuse or animal cruelty case pursuant to Penal Code Section 597 in one of the Los Angeles courts, your best course of action is to get in front of an attorney who has handled these cases before and can guide you through the system. Here in California, we have some of the harshest and strictest animal abuse laws in the nation. Because California is a liberal state and Los Angeles in particular, they are really cracking down on people who abuse animals or treat them in some way or neglect them or even do harm to animals.

What Are Some Of The Forms Of Animal Abuse Or Animal Cruelty That Can Be Charged Pursuant To Penal Code Section 597?

There are a number of ways that someone can be charged with an animal abuse case. Really, the crux of it is doing something or not doing something to an animal that puts the animal in a bad situation and threatens their life or harms them in some way. The forms of this that we’ve seen charged over the course of defending these cases for twenty-five years now, is if someone neglects an animal – neglects them to the point where they’re malnourished, somebody physically beats or attacks an animal, somebody leaves an animal in the hot sun with no water. We had one case where a client, to punish a dog, put a bucket over the dog’s head in the hot sun. There’s a whole host of different ways that someone can be charged with animal abuse or animal cruelty in Los Angeles.

Another form of animal abuse that we see is somehow causing animals to engage in fights – for example, dog or cockfighting. This is something that the authorities take very seriously. In my experience, I know they have a special unit in the DA’s office in downtown Los Angeles with the head DA in charge of it, that investigates and deals with these animal abuse cases. Obviously, they have the animal control that will get involved in these cases for the city of Los Angeles and other investigative agencies and tools.

A lot of times we see these cases are coming up by neighbors reporting abuse of animals in their neighbor’s property. Sometimes there are witnesses to the abuse. Sometimes a dog will escape for example and the authorities will capture it and come to the determination that it was abused and then they’re going to figure out who the owner was and then they will prosecute that person.

What Are Some Of The Defenses To Animal Cruelty Of Abuse?

Well, obviously the best defense would be that you’re not the one that inflicted any abuse on an animal or you’re not the one who was responsible for taking care of the animal. So, the defense is going to spin on what happened in the case. There’s no cookie-cutter defense when it comes to an animal cruelty or an animal abuse case. It has to do with the facts of the case and what I ultimately look at is, okay, if the case went to jury trial and the prosecutors put their evidence, we put our evidence on, what do we think a jury would do with a case like this. Having done over two hundred jury trials, I have a pretty good feel for what a jury might do – what evidence we would need to get in order to defend the case; what evidence the prosecutors have that shows that you’re guilty or innocent of the crime you’re charged with. So really, we need to sit down, look at all the evidence, evaluate it and decide what the best course of action is, and once we decide that course, set in motion a plan to properly defend you for these charges.

What Are Some Penalties For Animal Abuse In Los Angeles Pursuant To Penal Code Section 597?

Animal abuse can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. This is what is referred to as a wobbler in California. As far as how the prosecutors are deciding whether to charge it as a felony or a misdemeanor, they are going to look at your prior criminal record. They are going to look at what you did in this case – how severe was the animal cruelty? What was the reason for it? What were the circumstances of it? So, this is really a subjective thing. A lot of times I’ve had cases where someone is charged with felony animal abuse, and once your version of events is gotten across to the prosecutors, sometimes a case can be reduced down to a misdemeanor and even expunged in the future if it’s handled the right way. So really, there’s no perfect answer to the question as to what the penalties are. It could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, you could be facing up to three years in prison if it’s charged as a felony and you’re convicted and there’s a whole host of other things that the judge and prosecutors can try to punish you with in order to deter you from doing this again, and punish you for what you did on the underlying case. So, get in front of an attorney who has done these cases, had success and knows when to try to defend the case or when to try to negotiate the case and get you the best possible resolution that protects your freedom and your reputation.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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