New Law Doubles Fines for Cockfighting in Calif.

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Fines for anyone convicted of cockfighting in California will double under the law passed by the Legislature on July 2. SB 1145 was introduced by Republican Senator Bill Emmerson of Hemet and approved by a vote of 78-0 in the Assembly on Monday. This raises the maximum penalty for cockfighting from $5,000 to $10,000, plus up to one year in jail, or both.

The same increase applies to causing any other animal, including bears, to fight each other, or causing dogs to fight against any different kind of animal or a human for amusement or gain. (Causing a dog to fight another dog is a felony in California and in all 50 states.)

Spectators at any exhibition of or preparation for an exhibition of animal fighting in California now face up to six months in jail and a fine of $5,000. This is up from the current $1,000.

Existing law makes it a misdemeanor to manufacture, buy, sell, exchange, or possess gaffs, slashers, or any other sharp implement which is attached to the leg of any fighting bird.  This is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, or by both imprisonment and an increased maximum fine of $10,000. The law also requires forfeiture of possession or ownership of those implements.

California already prohibits a person from owning, possessing, keeping, or training any bird or other animal with the intent that it be used or engaged in an exhibition of fighting. A person who violates this prohibition is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, and the maximum fine was increased to $10,000.

First-time convictions for cockfighting in California are charged as a misdemeanor. Many animal advocates believe that punishment should be raised to a felony. But the rising costs of incarceration in cash-strapped California are creating pressure on legislators to look for ways to increase fines rather than just incur more expense with longer jail terms. Repeat offenders already face stricter fines and penalties, including a felony for a second or subsequent conviction.

SB 1145 has already passed the Senate and is now going to the Governor for signature.

Read the entire text of the Bill here:;jsessionid=7c4ab99b55d6391d0c0032654dcc?bill_id=201120120SB1145    (An act to amend Sections 597band, 597c, 597i, and 597j of the Penal Code, relating to animal fighting.)