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Animals Left in Hot Vehicles

Can You Leave an Animal in a Hot Vehicle?

No, an individual may not leave an animal in a hot vehicle. Per California Penal Code section 597.7, an individual may not leave or confine an animal in any unattended vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or wellbeing of an animal due to weather and/or other circumstances.

What Circumstances Jeopardize the Animal’s Health or Wellbeing?

Per California Penal Code section 597.7, circumstances that may jeopardize an animal’s health or wellbeing include:

  • Heat;
  • Cold;
  • Lack of adequate ventilation;
  • Lack of food for a prolonged time;
  • Lack of water for a prolonged time; or
  • Any other reasonable circumstance that could be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.

What are the Penalties Associated with Violating Penal Code Section 597.7?

Penalties associated with violating Penal Code section 597.7 depend upon whether the animal suffered from great bodily injury. If the animal does not suffer great bodily injury, the individual will likely be charged with an infraction and pay fines of up to $100. If the animal suffers great bodily injury, the individual may be charged with a misdemeanor and may face up to 6 months in jail and/or pay fines of up to $500.

What is an Infraction?

An infraction is when there has been a violation of traffic laws, municipal codes, or administrative regulations. The penalties associated with infractions do not include jail time or probation but rather paying fines.

What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor pertains to criminal charges that carry up to one year of serving time in jail as well as associated fines.

Can Another Individual Remove the Animal from the Hot Vehicle Without Legal Consequences?

Another individual may remove an animal from a hot vehicle without criminal liability so long as the individual did the following:

  • The individual took reasonable action in good faith that was necessary in order to protect the animal from imminent danger or suffering;
  • The individual determined that the vehicle was locked or otherwise had no reasonable way for the animal to be removed from the vehicle;
  • The individual contacted local law enforcement, 911, the fire department, or animal control;
  • The individual remained with the animal in a safe location until a responder arrived;
  • The individual used no more force than was necessary under the circumstances to rescue the animal; and
  • The individual immediately turned the animal over to a representative from law enforcement, animal control, or emergency responder.

Does A Penal Code Section 597.7 Conviction Impact Immigration?

A violation of Penal Code 597.7 will not impact the immigration status of an individual.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing charges under Penal Code 597.7, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at (310) 943-1171 for a free consultation. Our attorneys will evaluate the details of your case and let you know what to expect and how you can proceed.


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