BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                             Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:    AB 794        Hearing Date:    June 16, 2015    
          
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          |Author:    |Linder                                               |
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          |Version:   |April 8, 2015                                        |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|JRD                                                  |
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               Subject:  Criminal Acts Against Law Enforcement Animals



          HISTORY

          Source:   California Mounted Officers Association

          Prior Legislation:AB 667 (Smyth) - 2007-08, died in Assembly  
          Public Safety 

          Support:  American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to  
                    Animals; California Association of Highway Patrolmen;  
                    California Police Chiefs Association; Peace Officers  
                    Research Association of California; Riverside  
                    Sheriffs' Association; Sonoma County Board of  
                    Supervisors; One Individual

          Opposition:California Public Defenders Association

          Assembly Floor Vote:                 77 - 0


          PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to expand criminal acts against law  
          enforcement animals to include offenses against animals used by  
          volunteers, acting under the direct supervision of a peace  
          officer, as specified.  







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          Existing law provides that any person who maliciously strikes,  
          beats, kicks, stabs, shoots, or throws, hurls, or projects any  
          rock or object at any horse being used by a peace officer, or  
          any dog being supervised by a peace officer in the performance  
          of his or her duties is a public offense.  If the injury  
          inflicted is a serious injury, as specified, the person shall be  
          punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section  
          1170 for 16 months, two or three years, or in a county jail for  
          not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand  
          dollars, or by both a fine and imprisonment.  If the injury  
          inflicted is not a serious injury, the person shall be punished  
          by imprisonment in the county jail for not exceeding one year,  
          or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by both a  
          fine and imprisonment.  (Penal Code  600(a).)

          Existing law states that any person who willfully and  
          maliciously interferes with, or obstructs, any horse or dog  
          being used by a peace officer or any dog being supervised by a  
          peace officer in the performance of his or her duties by  
          frightening, teasing, agitating, harassing, or hindering the  
          horse or dog shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail  
          not exceeding one year; by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by  
          both.   (Penal Code  600(b).)

          Existing law provides that any person who, with the intent to  
          inflict serious injury or death, personally causes the death,  
          destruction, or serious physical injury of a horse or dog being  
          used by, or under the direction of, a peace officer shall,  
          shall, upon conviction of a felony under this section, in  
          addition and consecutive to the punishment prescribed for the  
          felony, be punished by an additional term of imprisonment  
          pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for one year. (Penal  
          Code  600(c).)

           Existing law defines "serious injury" to include bone fracture,  
          loss or impairment of function of any bodily member, wounds  
          requiring extensive suturing, or serious crippling.  (Penal Code  
           600(c).)

          Existing law provides that any person with the intent to inflict  
          that injury, personally causes great bodily injury to a person  
          not an accomplice, must, upon conviction of a felony under this  
          section, in addition and consecutive, be punished by an  








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          additional term of imprisonment in the state prison for two  
          years unless the conduct can be punished under Penal Code  
          section 12022.7 or it is an element of a separate offense for  
          which the person is convicted.  (Penal Code  600(d).)

          Existing law requires the defendant to make restitution to the  
          agency owning the animal and employing the peace officer for any  
          veterinary bills, replacement costs of the animal if it is  
          disabled or killed, and the salary of the peace officer for the  
          period of time his or her services are lost to the agency.   
          (Penal Code  600(e).)

          Existing law provides that when battery is committed against any  
          person, including a peace officer and serious bodily injury is  
          inflicted on the person, the battery is punishable by  
          imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years  
          or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.   
          (Penal Code  243(d).)

          Existing law specifies the actions of a person who maliciously  
          and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, or wounds a living  
          animal, or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal as a  
          criminal offense.  (Penal Code  597.)

          Existing law specifies when a person overdrives, overloads,  
          drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives  
          of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats,  
          mutilates, or cruelly kills any animal, or causes or procures  
          any animal to be so overdriven, overloaded, driven when  
          overloaded, overworked, tortured, tormented, deprived of  
          necessary sustenance, drink, shelter, or to be cruelly beaten,  
          mutilated, or cruelly killed; and whoever, having the charge or  
          custody of any animal, either as owner or otherwise, subjects  
          any animal to needless suffering, or inflicts unnecessary  
          cruelty upon the animal, or in any manner abuses any animal, or  
          fails to provide the animal with proper food, drink, or shelter  
          or protection from the weather, or who drives, rides, or  
          otherwise uses the animal when unfit for labor as a criminal  
          offense.  (Penal Code  597(b).)

          Existing law specifies the actions of a person who maliciously  
          and intentionally maims, mutilates, or tortures any mammal,  
          bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish, as specified as a criminal  
          offense.  (Penal Code  597(c).)








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          Existing law requires punishment as a felony by imprisonment  
          pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine of not  
          more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both that  
          fine and imprisonment, or alternatively, as a misdemeanor by  
          imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by  
          a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by  
          both that fine and imprisonment for violations of Penal Code  
          section 597(animal cruelty). (Penal Code  597(d).)

          Existing law specifies that upon the conviction of a person  
          charged with a violation of this section by causing or  
          permitting an act of cruelty, as specified, all animals lawfully  
          seized and impounded with respect to the violation by a peace  
          officer, officer of a humane society, or officer of a pound or  
          animal regulation department of a public agency shall be  
          adjudged by the court to be forfeited and shall thereupon be  
          awarded to the impounding officer for proper disposition. A  
          person convicted of a violation of this section by causing or  
          permitting an act of cruelty, as specified, shall be liable to  
          the impounding officer for all costs of impoundment from the  
          time of seizure to the time of proper disposition. (Penal Code   
          597(g).)

          Existing law specifies that mandatory seizure or impoundment  
          shall not apply to animals in properly conducted scientific  
          experiments or investigations performed under the authority of  
          the faculty of a regularly incorporated medical college or  
          university of this state. (Penal Code  597(g).)

          Existing law requires that if a defendant is granted probation  
          for a conviction animal cruelty, the court shall order the  
          defendant to pay for, and successfully complete, counseling, as  
          determined by the court, designed to evaluate and treat behavior  
          or conduct disorders. If the court finds that the defendant is  
          financially unable to pay for that counseling, the court may  
          develop a sliding fee schedule based upon the defendant's  
          ability to pay. The counseling shall be in addition to any other  
          terms and conditions of probation, including any term of  
          imprisonment and any fine. If the court does not order custody  
          as a condition of probation for a conviction under this section,  
          the court shall specify on the court record the reason or  
          reasons for not ordering custody. This does not apply to cases  
          involving police dogs or horses as described in Section 600.  








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          (Penal Code  597(h).)

          This bill expands crimes against law enforcement animals to  
          include acts carried out against a horse or dog being used by,  
          or under the supervision of, a volunteer, who is acting under  
          the direct supervision of a peace officer in the discharge or  
          attempted discharge of his or her assigned volunteer duties.

          This bill expands the restitution requirements for defendants  
          convicted of those acts to include a volunteer who is acting  
          under the direct supervision of a peace officer using their own  
          horse or dog.  In such a case, the defendant would be required  
          to make restitution to the volunteer, or the agency that  
          provides, or individual that provides, veterinary care for the  
          horse or dog.

                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION
                                          
          For the past eight years, this Committee has scrutinized  
          legislation referred to its jurisdiction for any potential  
          impact on prison overcrowding.  Mindful of the United States  
          Supreme Court ruling and federal court orders relating to the  
          state's ability to provide a constitutional level of health care  
          to its inmate population and the related issue of prison  
          overcrowding, this Committee has applied its "ROCA" policy as a  
          content-neutral, provisional measure necessary to ensure that  
          the Legislature does not erode progress in reducing prison  
          overcrowding.   

          On February 10, 2014, the federal court ordered California to  
          reduce its in-state adult institution population to 137.5% of  
          design capacity by February 28, 2016, as follows:   

                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and,
                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          In February of this year the administration reported that as "of  
          February 11, 2015, 112,993 inmates were housed in the State's 34  
          adult institutions, which amounts to 136.6% of design bed  
          capacity, and 8,828 inmates were housed in out-of-state  
          facilities.  This current population is now below the  
          court-ordered reduction to 137.5% of design bed capacity." (  
          Defendants' February 2015 Status Report In Response To February  








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          10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge Court, Coleman  
          v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).

          While significant gains have been made in reducing the prison  
          population, the state now must stabilize these advances and  
          demonstrate to the federal court that California has in place  
          the "durable solution" to prison overcrowding "consistently  
          demanded" by the court.  (Opinion Re: Order Granting in Part and  
          Denying in Part Defendants' Request For Extension of December  
          31, 2013 Deadline, NO. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK DAD (PC), 3-Judge Court,  
          Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (2-10-14).  The Committee's  
          consideration of bills that may impact the prison population  
          therefore will be informed by the following questions:

              Whether a proposal erodes a measure which has contributed  
               to reducing the prison population;
              Whether a proposal addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy;
              Whether a proposal addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
              Whether a proposal corrects a constitutional problem or  
               legislative drafting error; and
              Whether a proposal proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy.


          COMMENTS

          1.  Need for Legislation

          According to the author: 

              In Penal Code 600, it is an offense to willfully,  
              maliciously harm, injure, obstruct, or interfere with a  
              horse or a dog under the supervision of a law  
              enforcement officer in the discharge of official  
              duties.  These violations are punishable by a fine  
              and/or imprisonment.  Punishment depends on the  
              seriousness of the injury to the animal. Upon  
              conviction, a defendant must also pay restitution for  
              damages. Unfortunately, Penal Code 600 only covers  








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              animals that are directly being used by an employed  
              peace officer. 

              AB 794 would add to Penal Code section 600, to  
              additionally include animals that are being used by  
              volunteer peace officers.  With budgets being stretched  
              at the local level and efforts being made to engage  
              with citizens, many counties are creating more  
              volunteer opportunities to work with law enforcement.   
              For many years Riverside County has worked with locals  
              in Norco to take advantage of their love of horses by  
              having the Mounted Posse.  These volunteers serve the  
              region by observing and reporting directly to the  
              Sheriff's office.  While the volunteers themselves are  
              protected from harm under state, their horses are not.   
              AB 794 will ensure that those who volunteer to help  
              protect their communities will also have protections  
              for their animals afforded to law enforcement animals.

          2. Effect of Legislation

          A number of local law enforcement agencies are utilizing  
          volunteers to act as the agencies' "eyes and ears."  For  
          example, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department has the  
          Sheriff's Mounted Posse.  Mounted citizen volunteers provide  
          assistance to law enforcement in Riverside County by being "eyes  
          and ears."  They do not have the powers or authority vested in  
          peace officers.  Citizen volunteers are directed to contact law  
          enforcement if they witness a crime or suspicious activity.   
          Citizen volunteers are not expected to take direct action on any  
          potential criminal activity.  (http://www.  
          riversidesheriff.org/volunteer/posse.asp.) 

          The Pasadena Police Department also has a Volunteer Mounted  
          Unit:

               Non-sworn civilian volunteer group that provides a  
               patrol service in the more remote park areas of the  
               City, including the Arroyo Seco Park and the Rose  
               Bowl. The Unit acts as "eyes and ears" for the  
               department by reporting violations and other  
               circumstances that may be a threat to public safety. 

               The Volunteer Mounted Unit was originally formed to  








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               assist at the Rose Bowl in patrolling parking lots  
               during the 1984 Olympics. It was formalized and  
               adopted by the Police Department in 1985 when the  
               department recognized the need for passive patrol in  
               the remote hiking and riding trail areas not readily  
               accessible by patrol units. Since then, Volunteer  
               Mounted Unit members have donated thousands of hours  
               creating a police presence and providing an important  
               link between the department and the community that  
               utilizes the parks. 

          (http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/police/mounted_volunteers/.)
          
          This legislation seeks to protect the animals of these Volunteer  
          Mounted Unit volunteers by making it a crime to harm or harass  
          these animals.  This bill, additionally, expands the restitution  
          requirements so that a volunteer would be eligible for  
          restitution.  

          3. Argument in Support

          According to the California Mounted Officers Association (CMOA):

               The CMOA Board of Directors, who represent over 250  
               CMOA members who are comprised of mounted law  
               enforcement personnel and mounted law enforcement  
               volunteers, whole heartedly support and sponsor  
               AB-794. 

               The CMOA recognizes that under the current law of  
               Penal Code 600, law enforcement volunteers and their  
               mounts do not have any protection.  Also currently,  
               law enforcement personnel cannot take any legal action  
               in regard to someone who would assault the mount of a  
               mounted law enforcement volunteer. 

               CMOA understands the dedication, time, personal  
               expense, and providing their own mounts that law  
               enforcement mounted volunteers give to their  
               communities across the state every day.  AB-794 helps  
               protect these dedicated volunteers and their mounts  
               who provide volunteer service to their communities.   
               AB-794 will also allow law enforcement to enforce the  
               new amended PC 600.








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          4.  Argument in Opposition

          According to the California Public Defenders Association, 

               The California Public Defenders Association (CPDA), a  
               statewide organization of public defenders, private  
               defense counsel, and investigators is sorry to inform  
               you of our opposition to AB 794 by Assemblymember  
               Linder.

               Under current law, Penal Code  600, it is a felony to  
               assault or harm a horse or dog that is under the  
               supervision of a peace officer in the discharge or  
               attempted discharge of his or her duties. It is also a  
               misdemeanor to harass, interfere with, or obstruct  
               these animals.

               This bill would modify PC  600 to include "a  
               volunteer police observer," and require restitution  
               "to a volunteer police observer who is using his or  
               her horse or supervising his or her dog in the  
               performance of his or her assigned duties . . .."  
               (Emphasis added). 

               This bill expands the scope of a crime, and extends it  
               to any number of "volunteer police observers." This  
               term is not defined in the statute, nor is there a  
               reference to a definition in another statute. This is  
               likely because the term is not defined, and is left to  
               the individual law enforcement agencies to determine  
               the definition, qualification, and training of these  
               volunteers.

               Likewise, it is troubling that a volunteer can bring  
               "his or her dog or horse" to assist in law enforcement  
               activities, without any parameters setting out the  
               qualifications of the animal. It takes a very  
               disciplined and well-trained animal to be of  
               assistance to law enforcement. Citizens should not  
               bear the risk of becoming involved in an incident with  
               a poorly-trained animal, and then be criminally  
               charged because of behavior that the animal may  
               responsible for. For example, an overly-sensitive  








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               horse may become spooked from background noise and  
               commotion during an incident, but an individual may be  
               charged because of the horse's behavior.   

               Because this bill is vague and criminalizes  
               potentially innocuous behavior, it should be opposed.
                                          


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