Facing Cockfighting Charges in Los Angeles?
How Cockfighting is Defined Under California Law
Cockfighting is an age-old blood sport in which male roosters (cocks or
gamecocks), which are specifically bred for fighting, are outfitted with
spurs or small knives attached to their legs and fight in an arena ("cockpit")
until one of the roosters is killed or refuses to fight. The primary purpose
of cockfighting is for gambling and entertainment. This death sport has
been around for thousands of years.
Cockfighting is illegal in every state in the U.S. It is a felony in 39
states and can be a felony or a misdemeanor in California. It is also
a federal crime, prosecuted under the United States Animal Welfare Act,
7 U.S.C. § 2156(a). California has recently passed amendments to
existing laws that significantly increase the penalties for engaging in,
sponsoring, and selling equipment for or watching cockfighting.
Cockfighting Laws in California – Penal Code Section 597:
Allowing Cockfighting on Your Property—Penal Code § 597b
Causing or allowing on your property a cockfight for amusement or gain,
is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to
one year and/or a maximum $5,000 fine. A second offense may be charged
as a felony punishable in state prison for up to three years and a fine
up to $25,000.
Being a Spectator at a Cockfight—Penal Code § 597c
Being a spectator at a cockfight is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment
in county jail for up to six months and/or $5,000 in fines.
Possessing Cockfighting Implements—Penal Code § 597i
Manufacturing, buying, selling, bartering, exchanging, or possessing any
cockfighting implements (i.e., gaffs, slashers) or any other sharp implement
designed to be attached to a rooster's leg is a misdemeanor punishable
by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year and/or a maximum $10,000
fine. If convicted, all cockfighting tools and implements must be forfeited.
Possessing, keeping or training any rooster (or fighting bird) to be used
in cockfighting is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county
jail for up to one year and/or a maximum $10,000 fine. Although a second
offense is still charged as a misdemeanor, the fine may go up to $25,000.
If the cockfighting charge is brought under Penal Code Section 597j, the
prosecution has to prove the defendant's roosters were being kept
and used for cockfighting and not for legitimate agricultural purposes.
One of the things that prosecutors will be looking for is roosters with
their combs, waddles and spurs removed.
If an additional charge under Penal Code Section 597j is brought because
of alleged possession of cockfighting tools (e.g., razors made for rooster
legs, training equipment and wager cards) the prosecutors will have to
prove a similar case for the items seized at the scene of the crime. Let
our firm defend you in the face of criminal charges.
Defenses Available in Cockfighting Cases:
No Criminal Intent — This is a key point of attack for a criminal defense lawyer in
most types of California cockfighting cases. If watching a cockfight is
charged under Penal Code Section 597c (watching a cockfight) prosecutors
must prove the defendant was aware and knowingly participated as a spectator.
If the defendant accidentally witnessed or accidentally encountered the
cockfight, the prosecutor could have a problem proving the case.
No Proof of Ownership — The lack of ownership defense can apply to land on which the cockfighting
took place, gamecocks and cockfighting tools. California prosecutors must
prove beyond a reasonable doubt the alleged cockfight organizer owned
or controlled the land where the cockfighting took place; or that an alleged
gamecock owner or trainer actually owned the gamecocks. This may be difficult
to prove since roosters are not licensed for this type of activity.
Call a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners
If you or someone you know is facing cockfighting charges or being investigated for
animal cruelty in Los Angeles, it is important you contact an experienced criminal defense
lawyer immediately. Taking a proactive approach during a criminal investigation
and prior to criminal charges being filed can mean the difference between
no charges being filed or facing a serious case. At Stephen G. Rodriguez
& Partners we have the knowledge and experience to defend against
We are ready to pursue all legal options in order to have your charges
substantially reduced or dismissed. We are ready to discuss your case
and help you put together the best legal plan for your particular circumstances.
Contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney for a
no-cost initial consultation.