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Los Angeles Service Dog Fraud

Faking service dog ownership is a fraudulent activity that amounts to a crime in California. Any attempt to pretend to be the owner or trainer of a dog qualified as a signal, guide, or service dog amounts to service dog fraud. This act is a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of $1000 and/or six months imprisonment in the county jail. It is also a violation of the rights granted to disabled citizens of California. Thus, any person caught committing service dog fraud goes against the provisions put in place to protect the disabled citizens in the state.

The term ‘service dog’ refers to any trained canine that assists a disabled individual. These tasks may include providing guidance, protection, retrieving dropped items, or towing a wheelchair. Disabled citizens in California may suffer from both physical and mental disabilities, including specific learning disabilities, intellectual deficits, emotional disabilities, and organic brain dysfunction. Therefore, this led to the broad definition of ‘disability’ under California law to cater for the diverse needs of the disabled persons.

A trained service dog must be able to perform certain tasks that satisfy the needs of disabled individuals. This notion is to ensure that only the legitimate service dogs must have the right to access places of public accommodation. Therefore, business owners are required to ask only two questions regarding the service dog. One question is whether the dog is a service dog needed due to a disability. The other query is how the dog is trained to assist with the disability.

It’s worth noting that no validated certification process is needed for service dogs, meaning business owners or any individual is not obligated to request for official I.D. and certification for a service dog. Some trainers provide personal certification for the dogs they train, while some don’t; anyway, the written documentation of a trainer is not an official certification, but it is the only court proof of service dog legitimacy.

A significant impediment in the combat against service dog fraud is the high incidence of service dog fraud that leads to discrimination against legitimate service dog handlers, primarily when it’s for an invisible disability. Therefore, accusations of service dog fraud against persons with legitimate service dogs have increased in number in recent times.

It is important to note that service dogs’ presentation could be challenging, especially when you’re unaware of the specific requirements for service dogs to perform a task. For instance, you may have an anxiety disorder, and the dog’s presence provides reassurance in public areas. In this instance, the dog would not be actively performing any service, and you could be accused of service dog fraud. However, you could be proven innocent of committing service dog fraud based on a lack of knowledge of the specific requirement.

If you or your loved one is accused of service dog fraud, kindly contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case regarding Penal Code 365.7 service dog fraud. A seasoned criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles will have in-depth knowledge of the said law’s broad spectrum and advise accordingly. The attorney will help you prove your innocence when falsely accused of committing service dog fraud.

 

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