When Does a Dog Bite Become Criminal in California?

A dog bite is serious business in California. Dog bites can inflict permanent scarring and disfigurement. In extreme cases, they can lead to infection, amputation and severe emotional trauma. Most often dog bite cases are handled in civil court, although there are cases that warrant criminal status.

The State Must File Criminal Charges

When a person is injured by a dog, the police should be called immediately. It is an important step to notify authorities of a possible vicious dog on the loose. It also gives you the documentation you need in order to file a civil lawsuit against the dog’s owner. There is a limited amount of time to file a dog bite civil lawsuit. That time limit is called the statute of limitations. State officials determine if criminal charges can be filed in a civil litigation.  

A dog bite situation in California can be deemed as criminal if the dog can be described by the state’s legal definition of vicious. According to California state law, a vicious dog is one that has acted in a hostile manner and caused at least two people to defend themselves in the last 3 years. Even if the bite does not cause injury, if the attack was unprovoked the dog could be deemed dangerous. Another way the state would deem a dog as vicious is if it has killed or maimed another domesticated animal at least twice in the last 3 years on the owner’s property.

Dog fighting has become an epidemic in this country. Dogs of certain breeds are taught to fight and kill. These dogs are vicious and will attack unpredictably. California state law may consider a dog to be vicious if it is owned by a person who has been convicted of a dog fighting offence or has not followed the safety rules set forth by the Food and Agriculture Code.

Should a dog be deemed as dangerous and it’s owners allow it to roam free, the owner could face criminal charges issued by the state if the dog kills or injures someone. If the dog busts free of its restraints, the owners could still face charges if they did not provide reasonable care in restraining the dog. Should the victim be only injured and not dead, the state could pursue misdemeanor criminal offense charges.

Dog Bite Compensation

Financial compensation is an option in a dog bite case whether it is criminal or civil. It is based on a number of factors including any negligence. Injured persons could be reimbursed for any doctor bills past and future in relation to the bite. They could also be entitled to some cash for pain and suffering and loss of work.

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