The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Santa Claus Arrested for Animal Cruelty? May Miss Christmas

"On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Donner, on Vixen ... I said ON VIXEN, GOSH DARN IT!" Santa yelled, before cracking the reigns of his sleigh one more time. Vixen sighed and struggled to move onward before collapsing. In a rush to finish his delivery schedule, Santa left Vixen in Bakersfield and replaced her with Clarice

Leaving a reindeer in Bakersfield alone is a crime worthy of punishment. However, what animal rights activists truly took issue with was Santa's over-demanding workload. In a single night, longer once the twenty-four time zones are taken into account, Santa pushes his reindeer to pull a heavily-loaded sleigh over 4.6 million miles. It is astonishing that any reindeer survive.


The mole has been identified as Tony Cox. Apparently Santa isn't familiar with one of the greatest thespians of our time.

Though Vixen's untimely demise happened nearly a year ago, on Christmas Eve 2011, Santa was not apprehended until late last week. Local authorities coordinated with federal and international law enforcement agencies and placed a mole in Santa's Workshop. That mole alerted authorities to Santa's whereabouts when he went on a late-night In-N-Out run.

Depending on the charge, Santa faces a fine of up to $20,000, plus possible incarceration. The misdemeanor charge carries up to a year in jail. The felony charge can carry up to three years in prison. Prosecutors are arguing for a denial of bail, despite the relatively minor charges, because Santa is a "flight risk."

Though California's series of fifty animal cruelty statutes cover more pages than Santa's list of who's naughty and who's nice, one in particular is the most likely to be used in Santa's case. According to Penal Code 597, anyone who "overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats, mutilates, or cruelly kills any animal" can be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor.

Ordinarily, because he is a first time offender, he would be looking at a shorter sentence. A recent homeless man, who killed a pelican with his bare hands for food, was sentenced to sixty days in jail. However, officials might take into consideration the fact that Santa was overworking an entire team of reindeer and has been doing so since at least the early 1800s.

Dear Children: The above is intended as educational parody and satire. While we at FindLaw may not approve of overworking poor Rudolph, or operating an overloaded sleigh when the weather does not permit and in violation of FAA regulations, Santa was never actually apprehended on criminal charges. PETA, however, is still very, very indignant.

Related Resources: