Animal Cruelty

Animal CrueltyThere are two main criminal laws that address the treatment of animals in Maryland, with one being misdemeanor and the other a felony.  Each of these two laws require that the state prove certain elements, but often police officers who are called to investigate an alleged crime are not aware of these exact elements.  Therefore most cases start out as a felony arrest for aggravated cruelty to animals, which is the more serious crime.  In our experience we have learned that when officers are in doubt about which crime to charge, they often err on the side of the more serious one.  In addition the animal control officers will not hesitate to take possession of your dog, cat or other pet and hold them without providing any type of explanation.  In some cases the city or county can keep your pet indefinitely and will rarely provide any information about the status of your beloved animal.  These crimes often carry a certain stigma, and defendants may feel as if the odds are stacked against them more so than common crimes such as robbery or burglary.  Because of the way people generally feel about animals in this country, cruelty defendants are often treated harsher than a defendant who harms another human being.  This is just the reality of this crime, but Maryland animal cruelty lawyer Benjamin Herbst will never let these stigmas result in an unjust resolution for any client.  Benjamin has experience defending cases involving mistreatment of all types of animals including dogs, birds, cats and farm animals, and is prepared to defend you or a loved one at all costs.  He has successfully defended misdemeanor and felony animal cruelty cases in multiple jurisdictions throughout the state and has earned dismissals and not-guilty verdicts in numerous cases.

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 an animal, depriving an animal of clean water and adequate food, 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 protection from weather (sun, cold or rain) and failing to provide proper veterinary care.  Many defendants that are charged with this misdemeanor have multiple pets and can be charged with more than one count, and in many cases a defendant can face multiple charges for the same animal.  Although abuse or neglect of an animal is a misdemeanor it is still an extremely serious crime that can lead to a jail sentence and 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.  Animal abuse cases are often initiated by overzealous animal control officers and the vet experts they employ to prove their cases, but an experienced criminal defense lawyer can tip the scales in your favor.  Benjamin specializes in animal cruelty charges in Maryland and is available anytime to discuss possible defenses to your case at 410-207-2598.
Client Reviews
"I am writing this letter to thank you for doing such a great job in my case. If it were not for what you did I would still be in jail right now. My family and I are very grateful I have a second chance at life now, and if it wouldn't be like this if you were not so good at what you do. Thank you again Benjamin!" T.S.
"I want to commend you on the excellent representation that you provided on my son's case case. I truly appreciate everything you have done. You are a dedicated, very professional, and caring individual. We both wish you the utmost success in your legal career and future endeavors." Raquel and Joseph M.
"Thank you for all the time and effort that you put into defending my case. You were willing to fight for me when nobody else would believe my story, and you did not back down from the prosecutor. Another lawyer would have urged me to plead guilty, but you were willing to fight for me, and in the end justice was served. I appreciate everything you did and wish you all the best." Fred D.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Office Phone Number