Service dogs help individuals who have a disability in the state of California. These dogs are allowed to accompany their owners everywhere. However, some people attempt to claim they have a service dog when they do not. This is a criminal act in the state of California.
Understanding Service Dog Fraud
Individuals rely on service dogs to help them perform a variety of tasks around California. For this reason, service dogs are allowed to enter stores and businesses where other dogs are not allowed. Additionally, people with service dogs are allowed to have them in apartment buildings that otherwise would not permit dogs. These benefits are only available to people who have a specially trained service dog and a formal diagnosis for their disabling condition.
PC 365.7 is used to prosecute people who attempt to pass themselves off as trainers or owners of a service dog. This charge also applies if individuals pretend their dog is a guide dog or signal dog. Individuals may make false claims verbally or in writing.
Individuals should only face PC 365.7 charges if they are intentionally passing their dog off as a service dog and acting fraudulently. This means they must have demonstrated dishonesty or bad faith.
Service Dogs in California
PC 365.7 charges are enforced if someone commits service dog fraud. However, this act of fraud may include other types of dogs used by individuals with disabilities. Individuals could face this charge if they fraudulently claim that their dog is a:
Guide dogs, or “seeing-eye” dogs, help individuals who have lost their vision get around. Individuals may claim fraudulently that their dogs are guide dogs in order to take them into places where dogs are otherwise not permitted to go.
Service dogs carry out tasks for individuals with physical or mental disabilities. They may perform some rescue work or help in other ways. For example, they may pick up an item the individual drops.
Signal dogs are similar to guide dogs. However, they do not assist blind individuals. Instead, they work with individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired by providing alerts in different ways that they wouldn’t otherwise hear.
Outcomes of a Conviction for Service Dog Fraud
The court treats service dog fraud as a misdemeanor in California. Misdemeanors are relatively serious charges. However, they are not as serious as a felony accusation. Individuals convicted under PC 365.7 may end up facing jail time of up to six months and/or fines of up to $1,000.
In some cases, individuals may receive probation instead of jail time. Probation allows you to remain out of jail after a conviction. However, individuals must follow certain regulations while on probation. Failure to heed these orders could result in a probation violation.
Get additional information about probation with a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Reach out to us at (310) 997-4688 for a review of your case and for help fighting the charges against you.
Available Legal Defenses
You don’t have to face charges for service dog fraud on your own in California. Reach out to a lawyer for help right away. Members of our team are ready to assess your situation and help you show that:
Your Dog Qualifies as a Service, Guide, or Signal Dog
The police officer may have made a mistake when they believed you were committing service dog fraud. This happens often with mental disabilities, as these disabilities may be less obvious to outsiders. This could lead to a charge you can fight.
You Believed Your Dog Was a Service Dog
PC 365.7 charges apply if you fraudulently try to pass off a dog as a service dog. You may be able to fight this charge if you legitimately thought your dog was a service, guide, or signal dog. This is true even if your dog did not receive the special training necessary to qualify as one.
Fight Service Dog Fraud Charges in California with the Simmrin Law Group
If you were charged under Penal Code 365.7, reach out to the Simmrin Law Group for help with your defense. Find out more with a free consultation by calling (310) 997-4688. You can also fill out our online contact form.