Dog Fighting

Under California Penal Code 597.5 it is illegal to participate in dog fighting event as a spectator, as an owner of a fighting dog or as an organizer of dog fighting events. The statute does not forbid the use of dogs for hunting purposes, the training of dogs for a specific purpose or the use of dogs for control or herding of livestock.

The statute can be divided into two areas. The first area is participation as a spectator which constituting a misdemeanor charge of up to one year in jail and a fine of $5000.00. The second area is participation as a dog owner or event organizer constituting a felony charge of up to three years in prison and a fine of $50,000.00.

In order to obtain a misdemeanor conviction of a spectator, a prosecutor must prove either of the following elements of the crime. They are:

  1. The spectator was knowingly present where preparations were being made for a dog fight, with the intent to be there.
  2. Or, the spectator was knowingly present where a dog fighting event took place with the intent to be there.

In order to obtain a felony conviction of an owner or organizer, a prosecutor must prove any of the following elements of the crime. They are:

  1. The owner trains or keeps a dog fighting dog with the intent to enter it into fights.
  2. The owner instigates a fight between two or more dogs or makes two or more dogs injure each other.
  3. The organizer uses a location under his control to hold a dog fighting event or aid in the holding of a dog fighting event.

Defenses to allegations of illegal dog fighting include self defense, defense of others and accident. Victims are allowed to defend themselves or another if there is a reasonable imminent fear of attack. Animals are included under this umbrella of self defense and could be treated like another person. Therefore they can be defended as such. A defense of accident is relevant when there was no intent to injure or kill a dog by the owner.

If you have been accused of animal abuse or illegal dog fighting, call a defense attorney who knows how to handle your case and obtain the best outcome possible. Call a Sacramento criminal defense attorney at the law office of Bonilla & Cintean, LLP. for an appointment today.