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Name: People v. Frazier
Case #: C057684
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/29/2009

A canine which causes great bodily injury to the victim after being directed to attack by the defendant, is the instrumentality of the attack, such that defendant is liable for the penalty enhancement of Penal Code section 12022.7, subdivision (a). Appellant cared for Papas, a dog belonging to the family that lived next door to the tent in which appellant resided. Appellant spent a considerable amount of time with Papas and the dog obeyed her. Appellant knew that the dog would attack on command. On the day of the incident, the female victim walked by Papas’ yard, appellant opened the gate, and ordered Papas to attack the victim. The dog complied and severely bit the victim, exposing the leg bone and muscle. Despite a neighbor’s directive, appellant refused to call the dog off the fallen victim and the attack ceased only when the victim’s friend ran to her aid and placed himself between her and the dog. Then victim called the dog back into the yard. Appellant was convicted of assault and personal infliction of great bodily injury. The appellate court rejected appellant’s claim that under People v. Cole (1982) 31 Cal.3d 568, which held that only principals who inflict the injury are subject to the enhancement, she was not liable for the injury. As the court noted, the law does not recognize dogs as having the mental state that can incur criminal liability and, therefore, a dog cannot be a principal to the crime and appellant was not an aider and abettor as described in Cole. Because Papas attacked and mauled the victim by obeying appellant’s commands, she is responsible for personally inflicting great bodily injury.