A dog’s owner has a legal responsibility if their dog bites someone in the state of California. Dog owners who fail to uphold their responsibilities can face criminal charges in California under Penal Code 398.
A crime committed under PC 398 is an infraction. This means that individuals can face fines for failing to uphold their responsibilities after a dog bite.
A Dog Owner’s Legal Responsibilities
According to PC 398, a dog owner whose dog bites someone needs to provide their contact information to the victim. They also need to provide rabies vaccination information for their pet.
California lists the specific contact information that a dog owner must provide:
- Their name
- Their dog’s name
- The dog’s license tag number
- Their address
- Their telephone number
PC 398 applies to anyone who has physical control of the dog. This means you are responsible for the dog in your possession, even if the dog does not actually belong to you.
A dog owner must provide this information within 48 hours of the dog bite. Failure to provide this information is a criminal offense. Find out more about PC 398 charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group at (310) 997-4688.
For a free legal consultation with a lawyer serving California, call (310) 928-9347
A Conviction Under PC 398
PC 398 violations are considered infractions in California. Infractions are relatively minor violations. A conviction for an infraction does not usually lead to jail time. In fact, a PC 398 violation typically leads to a fine in the amount of $100.
However, there are additional charges associated with animal attacks in California. These charges could lead to more serious penalties. For example, an individual could face charges under Penal Code 399, which covers the failure to control a dangerous dog or animal charge.
A Penal Code 399 charge could lead to either a misdemeanor or felony charges. You could face a PC 399 charge if you have a dog that the law would consider dangerous, and that dog hurts or kills another person. The penalties for a PC 399 conviction can include:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Prison time of up to three years
PC 399 is a more serious offense than PC 398. Some individuals can face charges under both penal codes, depending on the circumstances surrounding the attack. Learn more about how to fight these charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group now.
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Defenses for PC 398 Violations in California
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you form a legal defense if you have been accused of failing in your responsibilities after a dog bite. For example, your lawyer can help you show that:
You Did Not Own the Dog
PC 398 only applies to certain individuals. You may face this charge if a dog you owned bit someone else. You could also face a PC 398 accusation if you had custody of the dog at the time of the bite. However, if the dog was not yours, you may be able to avoid a conviction in court.
Your Dog Did Not Bite Anyone
PC 398 charges only apply if your dog actually bit someone else. If your dog growled at another person, you should not be convicted under PC 398. Your dog snarling does not translate to you having to provide your contact information or information about his or her rabies vaccine. You are only required by law to provide this information if your dog actually bit someone.
Someone Made a False Accusation
If someone claims falsely that your dog bit them, you can fight that accusation in court. Similarly, the victim may claim you did not provide your information after the bite as required by law as a form of revenge against you for the dog bite. Speak to a lawyer about building a defense in this situation.
We Can Help Defend You After a Dog Bite in California
Failure to uphold your responsibilities after a dog bite under Penal Code 398 could lead to criminal charges. You may need to pay a fine if you are convicted, or face more serious charges in connection with the incident. Our criminal defense lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group in Los Angeles can help you fight back. Call (310) 997-4688 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.