Can You Go To Jail For Training and Ordering a Dog To Bite ?

November 30, 2015 7:29 pm Published by

People v. Nealis, 232 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1,283 Cal. Rptr. 376 (1991)

Can You Go To Jail For Training and Ordering a Dog To Bite ?

Yes. If you had no right to use the dog as a weapon.

Can you be convicted of a crime when you train your dog to attack and it bites someone when you order the dog to attack.

Yes. If the dog is basically used as a weapon and you had no right to use it.

Is it a crime to train a dog to attack and it attacks someone

Yes. If the dog is basically used as a weapon and you had no right to use it.


On November 30, 1988, at about 6 a.m., there was a man by the name of Roberto Robles for a ride home from his girlfriend Diana Gutierrez. He was standing in the parking lot of Tiny Naylor’s Restaurant waiting for a ride home. Defendant was driving into the parking lot with a dog running by the side of her car. The dog growled at Robles for about 10 minutes. Defendant would call to the dog and urged it to attack Robles. Defendant then drove away and the dog followed her. Diana Gutierrez arrived at the parking lot and defendant returned with her dog. As Diana Gutierrez started walking to the restaurant, defendant ran to her and screamed at her and called her names. She then yelled get her ! The doberman pinscher, then attacked Gutierrez and bit her on the leg. Defendant then grabbed Gutierrez by the throat and scratched her face. Gutierrez screamed to Robles and asked he call the police. Robles was able to get the defendant and the doberman off Gutierrez.


Defendant was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon under Penal Code § 245. Defendant then appealed. The court first looked to the definition of a the phrase “deadly weapon or instrument” as used in section 245. The definition includes different inanimate objects that are capable of and are likely to produce death or great bodily injury. Under California law a “deadly weapon or instrument” is an instrument used in such a manner that its use could produce and is likely to produce death or great bodily injury. In a given situation, a dog may fall within the definition of deadly weapon or instrument.
A dog can be trained to attack a human and it is beyond question that a dog of sufficient training and size may be able to inflict serious injury or even death. The injury is no less serious than that inflicted with a pillow or any of the other inanimate objects which have been found to be a “deadly weapon or instrument.” Whether or not a particular dog is a “deadly weapon or instrument” will depend upon the circumstances of each case. Some dogs are not trained to attack persons, but will not do so when urged by their handlers and some dogs are not trained at all.
A dog trained to attack humans on command, or one without training that follows such a command, and which is of sufficient size and strength relative to its victim to inflict death or great bodily injury, may be considered a “deadly weapon or instrument” within the meaning of section 245.

Here the dog was ordered to attack and attempted to bite defendant. Defendant kicked him and hit him with his hand and the dog was unsuccessful. When defendant left, the dog left with her. This was sufficient to establish that the dog was trained to respond to defendant’s commands. In this case the defendant directed the dog to attack two persons and in each case the dog obeyed. The dog was a doberman of sufficient size and capability to inflict serious bodily injury upon the victims. The court concluded that the evidence is sufficient to support defendant’s conviction of assault with a deadly weapon.

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This post was written by Orange Dog Bite Attorney

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