The short answer to this question is yes, it is illegal to leave your dog unattended in a vehicle in California. However, the law is a bit more complex than a simple yes or no answer. Being charged with this law can lead to misdemeanor charges, and in some cases, light jail time.
Let’s face it, almost everyone owns a pet, and in many cases, bringing your animal along in the car is a much better option than leaving them unattended at home. But, the circumstances and the surrounding environment play a large role in the situation’s safety. Learn more about this law and the penalties one can face if charged with this crime.
California Laws for Leaving an Unattended Pet in a Vehicle
Leaving your pet unattended in a motor vehicle in California is illegal, but only if the conditions could endanger it. Some of the conditions are stated in Penal Code 597.9 that can endanger an animal, which include:
- Excessive heat or excessive cold
- Lack of adequate ventilation
- No food or water for the animal
- Other circumstances that may cause the animal to suffer or die
It’s important to note that this law is not only limited to dogs but will apply to all animals.
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Penalties for Leaving Your Dog in the Car in California
Because in California, leaving an animal unattended in dangerous conditions is against the law, there are penalties that one can face. For starters, if you violate this law but your animal is unharmed, you will be charged with an infraction. The fine for an infraction is around $100.
However, if this is your first offense, then you may not even have to pay a fine. Your consequences will solely depend on the circumstances, your past record, and the health of your animal.
On the other hand, if you get charged and your animal undergoes suffering or injury, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor. Your penalties for this crime is up to six months in jail, or a maximum fine of $500.
Defenses You May Have
Luckily, there are some defenses that you can try and prove. By having a skilled defense attorney at your side, you will be able to quickly finish your case and with luck, drop the charges held against you.
The three most common defenses that one can have include:
- No harmful conditions were present: As previously stated, this law will only apply if there are harmful conditions present for the animal left in the vehicle. Therefore, if none of the conditions are present and you can prove that the animal was not in danger or harm, the charges can get dropped.
- Being falsely accused: Similar to that mentioned above, you can claim that law enforcement officers have made a mistake and wrongly believed that the conditions were harmful to the animal in your vehicle. You would have to prove that the conditions present weren’t of any danger to the animal.
- You were experiencing an emergency: Of course, emergencies can occur, and a number of situations might make you rush causing you to leave an animal in the car. On the other hand, you could have also made a quick errand and got held up or hurt while inside, leaving your pet in a vehicle for an extended period of time. If this is the case, then you may be able to use your emergency situation as a defense.
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How Can a California Defense Lawyer Help You?
If you have been suspected of leaving your pet in the car unattended, a skilled attorney can assist your case. With one of the defenses and a solid legal team behind you, the charge can easily be taken care of.
With anything in life being possible, no one truly will know why your pet was left unattended. However, with the help of the Simmrin Law Group, we can ensure that you face no serious consequences. We offer free consultations, so you will know all that is involved with defending your charges.