Posted on March 11, 2017

Failing to Control a Dangerous Animal | CA Penal Code 399 PC

Under California penal code 399 pc, you could be charged with a crime if a dangerous animal kills or causes serious bodily injury to another.[1] This charge ordinarily applies to owners, but can apply to those who have custody or control over the animal. A violation of this statute typically involves dogs but can include any animal. Animals that are classified as “wild” carry a presumption of dangerousness.

Other relatable offenses include negligent control of an attack dog in violation of penal code 399.5 pc, and dogfighting in violation of penal code 597.5 pc.

Elements of the Crime

Under CALCRIM 2950, to prove criminal liability under penal code 399 pc, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  1. You owned or had custody or control of a dangerous animal;
  1. You knew the animal was dangerous;
  1. You failed to use ordinary care in keeping the animal OR you willfully allowed the animal to run free;
  1. The animal killed another or caused serious bodily injury;
  1. The purported victim took all precautions that a reasonable person would have taken under the same situation.

Legal Defenses to PC 399

Several defenses apply to PC 399 – i.e., you lacked knowledge that the animal was dangerous. This could be shown by no history of dangerous or violent propensities of the animal. In addition, perhaps you used ordinary care under the circumstances and the incident was the product of accident or misfortune. Furthermore, the alleged victim may have not taken all precautions under the circumstances and consequently suffer injury.

Punishment & Sentencing

Failing to control a dangerous animal is punishable in two different situations. If the animal caused the death of another, the charge is a straight felony carrying a sentencing range of 16 months, two, or three years. However, if serious bodily injury resulted, then the charge is a wobbler, making it punishable as a misdemeanor or felony. A felony carries up to three years whereas a misdemeanor carries up to one (1) year in the county jail.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested or charged with failing to control a dangerous animal, then contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free case evaluation.

 

 

Legal References:

[1] (a) If any person owning or having custody or control of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully suffers it to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, and the animal, while so at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, kills any human being who has taken all the precautions that the circumstances permitted, or which a reasonable person would ordinarily take in the same situation, is guilty of a felony.

(b) If any person owning or having custody or control of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully suffers it to go at large, or keeps it without ordinary care, and the animal, while so at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, causes serious bodily injury to any human being who has taken all the precautions that the circumstances permitted, or which a reasonable person would ordinarily take in the same situation, is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony.

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