To prove a case for aggravated cruelty to animals, the state must show that the defendant intentionally beat, tortured, mutilated, or killed an animal. This crime also includes a provision that is designed to protect police K9 units. Anyone who inflicts bodily harm on a police dog will likely be charged with felony cruelty. There are certain defenses to this charge, the most obvious being self defense. Anyone who is attacked by an animal clearly has a right to defend him or herself, but the self defense argument becomes more complex when a police K9 is involved because cops will almost always say that the defendant was never in danger. This argument is often a complete fabrication on the part of police, as their dogs can be extremely vicious when sent in attack mode. Anyone charged with aggravated cruelty faces a felony conviction with up to 3 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Although it is a felony, the district court has original jurisdiction over this charge, which means the case will not automatically go to the circuit court.
The misdemeanor version of animal cruelty is legally defined as abuse or neglect of an animal. This charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 90 days and a $1,000 fine, which means the defendant will not be entitled to a jury trial. Possible acts that could constitute this offense include overloading or overdriving an animal, depriving an animal of necessary sustenance, or inflicting unnecessary pain or suffering. It is also a crime under this law for a person to fail to adequately care for a pet, including not providing proper food, shelter, water, air, protection from weather, and proper veterinary care. Many defendants that are charged with this misdemeanor have multiple pets and can be charged with more than one count. Although abuse or neglect of an animal is a misdemeanor with a low maximum jail sentence, it is still an extremely serious crime that can permanently scar a person’s criminal background. Further, a conviction may result in mandatory court ordered psychological counseling. The court may also order counseling for anyone convicted under the dog fighting or cockfighting laws. Contact the firm anytime to discuss possible defenses to your case, and let us start fighting for you immediately.