Breaking into cars is now legal in the state of California, provided you're doing it for the right reasons. If a pet is trapped inside of a hot vehicle, a new California law says people can't be legally charged if they break in to rescue the animal.

Most states do not have these laws, but they are growing popular, and a few have added them to the books. California is the most recent to pass such a law to protect both pets and Good Samaritans.

The Bill

The bill itself is called AB 797, but many people refer to it as the Right to Rescue Act. The Humane Society, which supports the law, claims that just 10 minutes in a hot car is enough for the temperature to reach a dangerous level. At that point, pets inside could be in critical danger of passing away. This point is important, since some people may never leave a pet in the car for hours, but would think nothing of running into the store for 15 minutes.

The Conditions

It is, of course, very important to consider the conditions that must be present to legally break into a car. First of all, those breaking in really have to think that the animal is in danger; this isn't an excuse to break out a window. On top of that, the rescuer needs to try to rescue the animal in some other way (before attempting to break in through a window), but must have no other options. Breaking the window should be the last resort, and rescuers should only use as much force as needed. Finally, people have to contact the police, let them know what's happening, and then wait with the animal until they get there.

Criminal Charges

Many new laws that are passed regarding criminal activity simply note that certain actions are now illegal; this law does a good job of showing the other side of the coin, illustrating how criminal law can be defined by what has been made legal, as well. It will be interesting to see how this law comes into play the first time a person ends up in court, accused of unnecessarily breaking into a vehicle, and uses it as their reasoning. Citizens must know what rights and protections the law provides.