My question involves criminal law for the state of: California
I have several questions and I am not really sure where or how to start. I guess I should probably start with a little history and my prior conviction. I am a 41 year old female from California. Eight years ago I got into some trouble with a so-called friend. To make that long story short I was charged with Burglary and Receiving stolen property, both felonies. I pled guilty to receiving stolen property and the burglary charge was dropped. I was sentenced to time served and three years probation. I fulfilled all of my probation requirements including court fees and restitution. I swore that was my one and only run in with the law, I wasn’t about to make that same mistake again, or so I thought.
Well here we are eight years later and I am being charged with petty theft. It is my opinion that I am being falsely accused. I only hope I am correct in my thinking.
I have a horrible memory and I tend to forget a lot of things; therefore, right after the incident took place I sat down and wrote down every detail I could remember. Please forgive me; I know that it is long. I think that if you just scan over it you will get the just of it, but I didn’t know how to make it any shorter. I have replaced all the names with fictitious names. I will ask my questions at the end. Here it is:
I had been out of town all week and came home Friday evening. I am not sure I slept at all Friday night; if I did it was very little. The little dog next door cried and howled all night long. Saturday morning the dog continued to cry none stop. My husband said it had been crying like that ever since he came home from work on Thursday. At some point that morning Mike, that’s my husband came to me and said let’s go check on that dog. So we both walked next door. My husband opened the gate and the little dog tried to run out. Mike knelt down and the little dog jumped in his lap as if he was her best friend. The dog didn’t have any water, so Mike walked over to the faucet and started to give her some water. I stood at the gate and looked around the yard. That is when I saw a cage sitting under the living room window with a pink towel thrown over it. I said, “Oh my God Mike, what is that?” and pointed towards the cage. He walked over to it and picked up the towel. I asked him, “What is it? Is it dead?” It was a little lifeless baby bunny. He said he thought it was dead and he rattled the cage. I didn’t see it move, but I guess Mike did because he said it’s alive. He carried the cage over to the shade and he scooped up some water in his hand and tried to get the rabbit to drink it. After several minutes the bunny got up and slowly began to drink some water. Mike left the cage in the shade and we both went home.
I immediately went to my computer and started looking for the phone number to Animal Control. When I called the number the message said they were out until Monday and if it was an emergency to call 911. I hung up the phone and I called May, my landlord, June’s mother. And I told her of the situation, she said June shouldn’t have animals over there if she wasn’t going to take care of them and I agreed with her, she said she would take care of it and we hung up. I found a place on the Animal Control’s web site to file an on-line complaint so I did. A little while later we noticed that May had came and took the dog but she left the rabbit behind. I asked Mike if we should go get the rabbit and he said he didn’t know what we should do, but that I should call April and ask her what she would do. April lives across the street and she used to work at Blank Animal Hospital. So I called her. April said that if it were her she would be sure to leave a note on June’s door telling her that we had the rabbit. So that is what I did. I typed up a note on my computer, Mike went and taped it to her door and we brought the rabbit over to our front porch. We kept the rabbit on the front porch until 10:00pm on Sunday night when June finally came home. I was sitting on the front porch with my daughter when June and her kids walked up. She had the little dog with her, not on a leash of course. The little dog ran straight to me, June told her daughter to grab the dog. I immediately told her the rabbit was there on my porch and if I hadn’t tended to it, it would surely be dead. Keep in mind the rabbit had no water on Saturday morning and the temperature on Saturday reached 102 degrees. I absolutely believe without a shadow of a doubt if we had not taken care of the bunny it would be dead. I think that is just common sense. Regardless of what Officer Blank thinks, I do not think you have to be a vet to make that determination.
So Monday morning I get up and I am gone to work all day long. I never even think about my neighbor or her pets. I can’t remember if the dog cried that night or not. It probably did but I can’t say for sure. Tuesday morning the dog crying wakes me up. Mike had a Doctor’s Appointment that afternoon so he didn’t go to work that day. I don’t know how long that dog cried before we went out to check on them. It seemed like forever, I do know it was starting to get hot outside.
So I looked through the gate and yes both animals did have water. June had flooded the yard and the little dog was lying in the mud like a pig trying to stay cool. But the rabbit cage was sitting in the center of the back yard. There wasn’t a towel over the cage; it wasn’t sitting under the tree. It was in the direct sunlight with no shelter at all. I was in disbelief. I could not believe June was so irresponsible in the way she was caring, actually not caring for these animals. I picked up the cage and I carried it to the shade on my front porch. As soon as I went inside I called Animal Control again. The dispatcher told me the officer was on her way out to check on the report I filed on Saturday. I told the dispatcher to ask the officer to make contact with me because I had the rabbit at my house.
When Officer Blank got there I met her at her vehicle. I showed her where the dog was and I told her the whole story. She noted that the dog did not have any shelter. She also explained to us that we destroyed any evidence of animal abuse when we gave them water and provided the rabbit with shelter. I have never been in this situation before so taking pictures never even crossed my mind. She did inform me that what I had done was illegal. She said it was considered trespass and theft, even though I did probably save its life. She called her boss and asks him/her what she should do about the rabbit. They told her not to even address the issue of the rabbit, so she didn’t. She did tell me that in the note, ticket, or citation; what ever it was that she left on June’s door that she was telling June that I had the rabbit.
I didn’t want the rabbit and I didn’t want to care for the rabbit. I just wanted the rabbit to be cared for. June obviously wasn’t caring for it. Around 1:30pm my daughter called me. We got to talking about the rabbit and how I wasn’t comfortable leaving the baby bunny back in June’s yard with no shade, and he couldn’t stay at my house because I have 2 large dogs. But I had to take Mike to the Doctor’s at 3:00, so I asked her to come pick up the bunny and take care of it. I knew she would take good care of it because she and her boyfriend are foster parents to motherless kittens when they are only 2 or 3 days old. I told her she would need to bring it back when June got home; she said that wouldn’t be a problem. When we got back from the doctor’s office I kept watching for June but I never saw her. I gave up looking for June and went to bed somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30pm. I have to get up at 3:00am, to get my husband up for work and to fix his lunch.
Sometime after 11:00 June sent her son over to ring my door bell. When I answered the door, he was standing on the porch and she was standing in the grass. I asked her, “What in the hell is wrong with you?” I told her she couldn’t leave the rabbit in the yard with no shelter like that and expect it to live. I told her it was late and that I was sleeping. Her kids had school tomorrow and they should be in bed. The rabbit was safe and I wasn’t going to deal with her at this hour and that I was going back to bed and that is what I did.
It couldn’t have 20 minutes before there was another knock on my door and my dogs were going crazy, I slipped my house dress over my head and I answered the door. When I opened the front door there was a Blank County Sheriff’s Officer standing there. He immediately started yelling at me, “Where is her rabbit?” “Did you take her rabbit?” “Where is the rabbit?” June was standing there with these big tears running down her cheeks, putting on the performance of a lifetime. The whole thing seemed very bizarre. I tried to tell him that I saved the rabbit’s life and that it wasn’t here but that it was safe. And I didn’t want to deal with her this late at night. I honestly don’t think he heard anything I said. He told me to turn around and that I was under arrest. I immediately turned around just like he said to. I ask him if I could put some clothes on, he said “NO”. I asked him if I could put on some shoes, (what I really wanted to put on were some panties) he said “NO”. I asked him if I could wake my husband, once again he snapped back with a “NO!” He griped my right arm very tight and started to lead me off to his cruiser. June is still standing there in the grass; all the tears are gone and she has this huge grin from ear to ear. She starts saying stuff like. “I am afraid of her and my kids are afraid of her too.” I am still thinking to myself how very bizarre this seems. So I said to the Officer, “She must be a friend of yours.” He said “No, I don’t even know her.” So then I asked him why he wouldn’t hear me out and listen to my side of it. I told him I would give him the rabbit, all I cared about was the safety of the rabbit and if it hadn’t of been for me the rabbit would be dead. I just wanted him to hear me out. Just then we reached his cruiser, he let go of my arm and I turned to face him so that I could try to reason with him. He turned me around, said something about removing the handcuffs and the next thing I knew the cuffs were off.
Officer Blank told me if June got the rabbit back he could probably talk her out of pressing charges. I told him that I knew June and he would not be able to talk her out of anything, she wanted me to go to jail. He told me to go call my daughter and he went to speak to June. When I came back out he asked me if I had any ID in the house, I told him I did, and then he sent me back in to get it. When I returned I gave him my ID, he got his ticket book out and began to write me a ticket. As he began to write, June was standing off in the distance saying something about me being crazy.
I couldn’t believe it when he told me that it is not against the law if you let your own animal die in your yard, but that it is illegal to go into someone else’s yard in order to save an animals life. I told him I thought there was something seriously wrong with a system that would let an animal abuser continue to abuse their animals and be willing to put me in jail for saving the animal’s lives. That is when he told me that I am not a Veterinary and therefore I am not qualified to make that determination. Personally, I believe anyone who has ever spent a summer in Blank is qualified to determine that if you don’t give an animal any water for 2 – 3 days it will die.
In all reality, I don’t believe any of this is about the rabbit at all. For starters, if I wanted to steal the rabbit, I would not have left a note on her door telling her I had it. And another thing, how could it be theft if she already had the rabbit back in her possession. If there were any crime committed, they were committed against me. Not only do I feel June filed false charges against me, but I also feel Officer Blank violated my civil liberties. He never read me my Miranda Rights and there was no reason for him to be that rough with me.
This is just one more way June tries to manipulate the people and things around her. A perfect example of this is when Officer Blank had me in handcuffs, and she shouted out that she is afraid of me and that her kids are afraid of me too. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. She is obviously not afraid of me or she wouldn’t be trying so hard to push my buttons. And why in the world would her children ever be afraid of me, that is simply ludicrous, more of her outlandish lies.
June is just mad and is retaliating against me for a letter I wrote to her mother on April 28th, 2008. In that letter I told May to tell June to stop coming to my door, and that I refuse to deal with her any longer. She plays make believe that she is her mother’s property manager. She comes to my door with the most ridiculous stories. She is very immature. Not only does she try to manipulate me, but I have personally seen her manipulate other tenants. I can not even count the numbers of lies I have caught her in.
So my questions are:
I am pleading not guilty all the way to a jury trial if I have to, Do you think the D.A. will take it that far?
If it does go to a jury trial, the jury can’t hear about my priors, is that right?
Can it be theft if I left her a note on her door?
Can I press charges against her for filing false charges against me?
Do you think I have a civil case against her?
The Officer never checked my record. Do you think he went over board in the way he treated me? Did he violate my civil rights?
What if I do get convicted? Will I have to go to Prison? For how long do you think?
Like I said if it wasn’t for my prior record I wouldn’t be worried about it at all. But as it stands right now I am scared to death. Once again I apologize for my story being so long and I thank you for any answers you can help me with.