Well, the answer is everything. Courts and the public opinion are increasingly viewing the family pet and other companion animals as family members, and the legal trend of covering pets in domestic violence (DV) protective orders are expected to increase. This trend responds to the evidence that 71% of women entering the shelter system have reported that their abusers injured, killed, or threatened to injure the family pet as a revenge mechanism. It has also been irrefutably proven that there is a link between domestic violence, child abuse, and animal abuse. Even if you know you would never hurt an animal, the stigma of these facts are likely to subconsciously affect a law enforcement official’s perception of you if you have been accused of domestic violence.
California Domestic Violence Law vs. Animal Cruelty
Under California law, police are nearly always required to arrest any man or woman accused of spousal abuse or domestic violence—whether or not the suspect is guilty. The victim may then thereafter file for a protective order (also called a “restraining order”) to keep someone from contacting, calling, harassing or touching them. In addition, California law explicitly covers the family pet in restraining orders in cases of domestic violence. See CA FAM § 6320 – 6327. Specifically, the statute states that:
“On a showing of good cause, the court may include in a protective order a grant to the petitioner of the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent.”
A violation of a restraining order may result in 1 year (for a misdemeanor) to 3 years (for a felony) in jail, court fines, and penalties. Once a family pet is protected by the court, a violation of a restraining order may still be theoretically treated as a ‘normal’ violation of the restraining order. Additionally, if the animal is harmed from the interaction, you will likely be charged with animal abuse, which can be a misdemeanor or felony (depending on the severity) punishable by jail time and heavy fines.
San Diego Misdemeanor and Felony Lawyer
Being accused of domestic violence or animal abuse in the state of California is a serious charge. Even if you are innocent, you must take your arrest seriously. Recent laws that are meant to protect domestic violence victims can often end up victimizing innocent people that are wrongfully accused of committing domestic violence crimes. The Law Offices of David M. Boertje handles all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, including those involving domestic violence. We have successfully represented many defendants. Frequently, domestic violence charges can be lowered or dismissed so that you don’t have to serve any jail time. If you have been charged with making criminal threats, contact attorney David Boertjie today. We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.