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Injury to a Peace Officer Animal
Information on the crime of willfully causing injury to a peace officer's animal is found at California penal code section 600(a).
PC 600 Crimes
PC 600(a) Willful injury to a peace officer's animal: Any person who willfully and maliciously, and with no legal justification, strikes, beats, kicks, cuts, stabs, shoots, poisons, or otherwise injures a peace officer's animal that is working at the supervision of a peace officer, is guilty of injury to a peace officer's animal (Abbrev.)
PC 600(b) Obstructing a peace officer's animal: Any person who willfully and maliciously, and with no legal justification, interferes with or obstructs a horse or dog being used by a peace officer in the discharge or attempted discharge of his or her duties, who is acting under the direct supervision of a peace officer in the discharge or attempted discharge of his or her assigned duties, by frightening, teasing, agitating, harassing, or hindering the horse or dog is guilty of obstructing a peace officer's animal (Abbrev.).
A police officer's animal can include any type of animal that is being directed by a police officer during the course of the police officer's employment, but for the most part, PC 600 crimes apply to dogs, horses, and birds that are injured or obstructed.
Note: Birds, specifically eagles, are now being used by police officer to combat the rising number of drone threats to police officer safety.
PC 600 Punishments
PC 600(a) Willfully causing injury to a peace officer's animal is charged as a misdemeanor or as as a felony. When the accused is convicted of PC 600(a) S a felony, he or she could face up to three years in jail. When PC 600(a) is charged as a misdemeanor, the accused could face up ton one year in the county jail.
PC 600(b) Obstructing a peace officer's animal is charged as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, the accused could face up to one year in jail.
Probation: A probation sentence a period of supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are allowed in PC 600 cases depending on the facts of the case, the defendant's criminal history, and other facts. A probation sentence for a felony conviction is monitored by a felony probation officer, whereas a probation sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is monitored by the court.
PC 1170(h): Willfully causing injury to a peace officer's animal is not a serious or violent felony (as defined in California law). If found guilty of PC 600(a) as a felony, the defendant may be allowed to have any jail sentence that is ordered split (served partially out of jail on work release), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a condition of his or her out of custody sentence). Also, jail sentences for misdemeanor and felony conviction of PC 600 crimes are served in a local county jail (as opposed to a state prison) even if the defendant is sentenced to more than a year.conviction
Bail: Bail is amount of money or property posted with the court that is intended to assure the defendant's presence in court during the criminal proceedings. The schedule bail amount for PC 600(a) is $25,000 in felony cases and $5,000 in misdemeanor cases. This amount can be raised or lowered by a judge at the defendant's first court appearance (arraignment). In some cases, it may be possible to be released on the defendant's own recognizance (OR) and without the need to post bail.
In addition to any jail time that might be ordered after a conviction for PC 600, if found guilty, the defendant could face any of the additional punishments : addition or professional licensing consequences, fines and fees, restitution for injury to the peace officer's animal, criminal protective orders, and more.
PC 600 Defenses
Common defenses to a criminal charge of willful injury to a peace officer's animal include: insufficient evidence , mistake of fact (defendant did not know the animal was acting at the direction of a police officer), insanity, false arrest, legal justification (self defense or false arrest) and more.
Note: When a defendant is attacked by a police dog it is sometimes natural for a person to fight off the attacking dog. In this effort, the police dog may receive injury; however, this should not be considered criminal conduct. It is the willfulness to injure a known peace officer's animal that is is criminal. Every case is different and whether or not the defendant is merely defending himself or herself from further injury from an attacking dog or attacking a dog regardless of the need to defend himself or herself is determined on a case by case basis.
If you have been arrested or charged with willfully causing injury to a peace officer's animal (PC 600(a), or obstructing an officer's animal (PC 600(b) contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Call today!
Quick Reference Sheet
Crime: Causing Serious Injury to a peace Officer Animal
Code: PC 600(a)
Wobbler: Yes. PC 600(a) is a wobbler crime. This means that PC 600(a) may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
Incarceration: Felony PC 600(a) jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years jail. Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.
Probation: Probation may be available in both felony and misdemeanor PC 600(a) cases (assuming that other crimes or enhancements that might bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.
PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 600(a) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:
Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)
Suspended (possibly never served)
Served in county jail (not state prison)
Note: Limitations may apply
Strike: PC 600(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.
Firearms: Felony PC 600(a) convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.
Bail: $25,000 (Felony) (San Bernardino County)