When is a Dog Bite Case Considered a Criminal Matter

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Dog bites are very serious matters. Those who get bitten by a dog can suffer from disfiguration, infections, trauma, as well as other side effects. While a dog bite is usually handled through California’s civil law, there are instances that involve bites which are regarded as criminal matters.

Criminal Charges Are Also Filed in California

If you or a person you love has suffered due to a dog bite, then you have to call the police right away to report the event. It is important that you do it because it warns state officials about an animal, which could be dangerous; plus it provides you with essential documentation should you opt to take a civil action against it. If you are planning to file a lawsuit of the civil kind, then keep in mind you have a limited period of time to do so. In legalese, this is called “statute of limitation”. It is the responsibility of state officials to decide whether they will charge the dog’s owner with a criminal offense.

If the dog in question falls under California’s legal definition of being “vicious” or “dangerous”, then the dog bite might just come under the criminal category. As per California law, a vicious dog host not just acted in a violent way but also has caused an individual to protect themselves at least twice in the past 3 years when the dog was not on its owner’s property. If it bit an individual without being provoked, and even if the injury was not severe, then the dog could be deemed dangerous. In the event it bit, killed or injured a different domestic animal at least two times in the past 3 years when it was not its property, then the dog could be considered dangerous.

It might just be regarded as vicious under California law in the following cases.

  • If it is owned by a person convicted of a dog-fighting related offense;
  • If it was aggressive and severely injured a person, or killed him or her; Else,
  • If it is listed as a vicious dog and its owner has not conformed to the Department of Food and Agriculture’s guidelines.

If a vicious dog was allowed to roam free by the owner, or he or she fails to give reasonable care associated with restraining the animal, then the owner might just face a felony criminal charge from California. This may be the case if their dog killed an individual, who took reasonable measures to defend him or herself in that situation. In the event a serious injury happened, but not demise, then the US state might just still file a criminal charge, even though it could choose to charge them with “misdemeanor”.

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