Is it a Crime if I Break Into a Car to Rescue a Pet or a Child?
Florida is warm to hot all year long and we who live here are used to it, but sometimes the heat can be a killer. Some of the most dangerous conditions that can easily arise are when a pet or small child is left alone inside a car with the windows closed. It’s not the lack of air which causes a problem, but the lack of circulation of the air and the build-up of heat.
A car left in the sun with windows shut in Florida in July or August could easily get up well past the 110oF mark inside. If there is too much of that sort of heat, a small animal or child can get fried. At the very least it could be a very uncomfortable and frightening experience. A small child that survives that sort of experience might be traumatized for life.
We all know that whoever shut the doors and left their pet or child in that car is ultimately responsible for it, but what happens if you happen to be walking by and notice that extreme suffering is taking place? Can you legally bust open the window or would you get arrested? If you break into someone else’s car normally, you could be charged with trespass at the very least.
This is a very real potential situation and every summer both pets and small children do die in exactly these sorts of circumstances. Basically, you are legally able to break the windows of the car, at least here in Florida, as long as you remember to do the following:
Check to make sure that the doors are locked.
Be certain that the pet or child is in imminent danger as far as you believe.
Call 911 before you break a window.
Call 911 again after you have broken in.
Stay with the car and its occupants (you don’t want a child or a dog, say, getting loose and wandering down the street) until police or emergency services arrive.
Avoid any kind of argument or altercation with the owner of the car if they turn up before the emergency services personnel. Let police decide what should happen next.
Florida law allows you to break into a car if its occupants are in danger of heat stroke
In 2016, Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, signed legislation removing any kind of liability for civil or criminal action against anyone breaking into a car if there is imminent danger of its occupants dying from conditions in that vehicle. The law specifies that the animals that can be rescued in this fashion must be household pets and not domestic animals. Presumably seeing a cow or pig in the car rather than a dog or cat is a lot less likely!
There are several situations in which it is hard to know whether your actions were legal or not. If you have been arrested for something which you believe you didn’t do or you believed was not a criminal offense, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In Miami, renowned criminal defense attorney Albert Quirantes Esq. is always ready to defend those who have been unjustly charged with a crime. Call the Law Firm of Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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