This section provides for the seizure and forfeiture of all birds, animals, paraphernalia, and any other property which is used in the fighting of birds or animals, the training of birds or animals to fight, or to inflict pain or cruelty on fighting animals. The section outlines the procedures for seizure and forfeiture, including what is to be done with seized animals.
(a) Any authorized officer making an arrest under Section 597.5 shall, and any authorized officer making an arrest under Section 597b, 597c, 597j, or 599a may, lawfully take possession of all birds or animals and all paraphernalia, implements, or other property or things used or employed, or about to be employed, in the violation of any of the provisions of this code relating to the fighting of birds or animals that can be used in animal or bird fighting, in training animals or birds to fight, or to inflict pain or cruelty upon animals or birds with respect to animal or bird fighting.
(b) Upon taking possession, the officer shall inventory the items seized and question the persons present as to the identity of the owner or owners of the items. The inventory list shall identify the location where the items were seized, the names of the persons from whom the property was seized, and the names of any known owners of the property.
Any person claiming ownership or possession of any item shall be provided with a signed copy of the inventory list, which shall identify the seizing officer and his or her employing agency. If no person claims ownership or possession of the items, a copy of the inventory list shall be left at the location from which the items were seized.
(c) The officer shall file with the magistrate before whom the complaint against the arrested person is made, a copy of the inventory list and an affidavit stating the affiant's basis for his or her belief that the property and items taken were in violation of this code. On receipt of the affidavit, the magistrate shall order the items seized to be held until the final disposition of any charges filed in the case subject to subdivision (e).
(d) All animals and birds seized shall, at the discretion of the seizing officer, be taken promptly to an appropriate animal storage facility. For purposes of this subdivision, an appropriate animal storage facility is one in which the animals or birds may be stored humanely. However, if an appropriate animal storage facility is not available, the officer may cause the animals or birds used in committing or possessed for the purpose of the alleged offenses to remain at the location at which they were found. In determining whether it is more humane to leave the animals or birds at the location at which they were found than to take the animals or birds to an animal storage facility, the officer shall, at a minimum, consider the difficulty of transporting the animals or birds and the adequacy of the available animal storage facility. When the officer does not seize and transport all animals or birds to a storage facility, he or she shall do both of the following:
(1) Seize a representative sample of animals or birds for evidentiary purposes from the animals or birds found at the site of the alleged offenses. The animals or birds seized as a representative sample shall be transported to an appropriate animal storage facility.
(2) Cause all animals or birds used in committing or possessed for the purpose of the alleged offenses to be banded, tagged, or marked by microchip, and photographed or video recorded for evidentiary purposes.
(e)(1) If ownership of the seized animals or birds cannot be determined after reasonable efforts, the officer or other person named and designated in the order as custodian of the animals or birds may, after holding the animals and birds for a period of not less than 10 days, petition the magistrate for permission to humanely destroy or otherwise dispose of the animals or birds. The petition shall be published for three successive days in a newspaper of general circulation. The magistrate shall hold a hearing on the petition not less than 10 days after seizure of the animals or birds, after which he or she may order the animals or birds to be humanely destroyed or otherwise disposed of, or to be retained by the officer or person with custody until the conviction or final discharge of the arrested person. No animal or bird may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of until four days after the order.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall apply only to those animals and birds seized under any of the following circumstances:
(A) After having been used in violation of any of the provisions of this code relating to the fighting of birds or animals.
(B) At the scene or site of a violation of any of the provisions of this code relating to the fighting of birds or animals.
(f) Upon the conviction of the arrested person, all property seized shall be adjudged by the court to be forfeited and shall then be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the court may order. Upon the conviction of the arrested person, the court may order the person to make payment to the appropriate public entity for the costs incurred in the housing, care, feeding, and treatment of the animals or birds. Each person convicted in connection with a particular animal or bird, excluding any person convicted as a spectator pursuant to Section 597b or 597c, or subdivision (b) of Section 597.5, may be held jointly and severally liable for restitution pursuant to this subdivision. This payment shall be in addition to any other fine or other sentence ordered by the court. The court shall specify in the order that the public entity shall not enforce the order until the defendant satisfies all other outstanding fines, penalties, assessments, restitution fines, and restitution orders. The court may relieve any convicted person of the obligation to make payment pursuant to this subdivision for good cause but shall state the reasons for that decision in the record. In the event of the acquittal or final discharge without conviction of the arrested person, the court shall, on demand, direct the delivery of the property held in custody to the owner. If the owner is unknown, the court shall order the animals or birds to be humanely destroyed or otherwise disposed of.
(Added by Stats.1939, c. 972, p. 2724, § 1. Amended by Stats.1975, c. 1075, p. 2635, § 4; Stats.1997, c. 422 (S.B.196), § 1; Stats.2009, c. 88 (A.B.176), § 72.)
LAW REVISION COMMISSION COMMENTS
Subdivision (d)(2) of Section 599aa is amended to reflect advances in recording technology and for consistency of terminology. For a similar reform, see 2002 Cal. Stat. ch. 1068 (replacing numerous references to “audiotape” in Civil Discovery Act with either “audio technology,” “audio recording,” or “audio record,” as context required). [37 Cal. L. Revision Comm'n Reports 211 (2007)].