BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                           Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair

                                           243 (Nava)
          
          Hearing Date:  08/17/2009           Amended: 07/16/2009
          Consultant:  Jacqueline Wong-HernandezPolicy Vote: Public Safety  
          7-0
          _________________________________________________________________ 
          ____
          BILL SUMMARY: AB 243 prohibits a person who has been convicted  
          of specified animal abuse crimes from owning or caring for an  
          animal for a specified period of time. This bill provides that  
          upon a conviction for a misdemeanor animal abuse violation (of  
          subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 597, or of  Section 597a,  
          597b, 597h, 597j, 597s, or 597.1,) the court shall, in addition  
          to any other sentence or penalty imposed, enter an order  
          enjoining the person from owning, possessing, maintaining,  
          having custody of, residing with, or caring for any animal for a  
          period of not less than five years, and ten years for a felony  
          conviction. Violation of the provisions of this bill is  
          punishable by one year in county and/or a fine not exceeding  
          $1000. This bill provides that the court may exempt a defendant  
          from its provisions, as specified.  

          This bill provides a procedure for reclaiming an animal in the  
          event of an acquittal.
          _________________________________________________________________ 
          ____
                            Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions                    2009-10                 2010-11    
                2011-12                       Fund
           Restricts animal ownership for            Minor,  
          non-reimbursable enforcement costs Local
          individuals convicted of certain crimes

          Creates new misdemeanor               Minor, non-reimbursable  
          enforcement costs    Local

          New court order option for        ***Unknown; potentially  
          significant savings***          Local
          forfeiture of ownership                                        
          General*

          New requirements to reclaim animals   ***Negligible costs to  










          verify proof***      General** 

          * The state currently reimburses counties for various animal  
          control-related mandates.
          **Trial Courts Trust Fund
          _________________________________________________________________ 
          ____

          STAFF COMMENTS: This bill requires, upon the conviction of  
          specified animal cruelty and abuse crimes, that the court enter  
          an order enjoining a convicted individual from owning or caring  
          for animals, as specified. Violation of this new requirement  
          would be misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in a county  
          jail and/or a fine of $1,000. The creation of a new misdemeanor  
          does not constitute a reimbursable mandate on local agencies.

          Under existing law, local animal shelters must provide care for  
          animals confiscated from individuals charged with animal abuse  
          crimes. There is an initial court hearing to ensure the animal  
          was seized appropriately and, if it was, it remains with the  
          seizing agency throughout the trial. Animals that are evidence  
          in a trial cannot be euthanized, sold, or 

          Page 2
          AB 243 (Nava)

          given away, and must be kept by the local agency throughout the  
          court proceedings, unless an owner relinquishes ownership of the  
          animal. This bill does not alter the
          requirements and guidlines for the care of these animals. Owners  
          are notified that they must reimburse local agencies for the  
          care of their animals, and a failure to pay ongoing costs  
          constitutes a lien on reclaiming the animal. If an owner does  
          not reimburse the facility, he or she will forfeit ownership  
          rights, and the animal in custody can be sold. 

          This bill would allow a seizing agency or prosecuting attorney  
          to file a petition asking the court to order termination of  
          ownership rights over a seized animal, prior to final  
          disposition of the criminal charge. The prosecuting attorney or  
          seizing agency would claim that the owner should not have the  
          animal or animals returned regardless of the criminal charge  
          outcome. This provision would likely be most often used in cases  
          in which animals are seized because an owner exceeds the number  
          allowed within the county. For example, in Los Angeles County, a  
          person may only own 3 dogs. If 20 dogs are seized from a  










          residence pending abuse charges, regardless of the outcome of  
          the criminal charges, the owner cannot have more than 3 dogs  
          returned because of the county ordinance. To the degree that  
          these petitions are granted, some savings would likely result  
          from lifting the restriction on the seizing agency to house the  
          animal for the duration of the court proceedings.

          This bill would also require that, in the event that he or she  
          is acquitted of criminal charges, the owner of a seized animal  
          must provide proof of meeting specified conditions in order to  
          reclaim the animal. Among these conditions is proof of having  
          reimbursed the appropriate local agency for care of the animal.  
          Costs for the courts to verify the required proof would be minor  
          both in court time and in frequency. It is rare that an owner  
          would meet all four conditions that would result in this  
          situation: (a) having not had the animal returned during the  
          preliminary hearing; (b) being acquitted or having the case  
          dismissed; (c) having not relinquished ownership for failure to  
          pay shelter costs; and (d) seek the return of the animals.