Legal Help When Buying and Selling Property

Legal Help When Buying and Selling Property

Animal Cruelty Is a Serious Criminal Offense

by Louise Boyd

If you are accused of cruelty to animals, a conviction could result in severe penalties which may include incarceration. Depending on the situation, you may receive felony local, state, or federal charges. Even If you are under eighteen, you would not be exempt from being charged and convicted.

Federal Laws

Even though animal cruelty crimes usually fall under local or state jurisdictions, there are times when it also becomes a federal matter. For instance, you may remember the case of Michael Vick who was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for running an interstate dog-fighting business. He also was convicted of state charges in Virginia and served the charges concurrently.

The FBI has recently made the decision that local and state jurisdictions will need to report crimes involving animal cruelty to them so that they can be tallied in the Uniform Crime Report (U.C.R.) which is a nationwide incident reporting system. They have four categories which are

  • Simple or gross neglect of animals,
  • Intentional abuse and torture
  • Organized abuse, and
  • Animal sexual abuse.

This means animal cruelty is now regarded on as a Group A offense and is on the same level as arson, kidnapping, and murder. The FBI notes that the correlation between animal cruelty and other serious crimes is undeniable.

Many persons who went on to commit heinous crimes against other humans started out, or continued to harm, animals in cruel and vicious ways.  Also neglect or harm to animals is often evidence of family dysfunction and domestic abuse. It is possible that the children in the family are not being taught empathy and compassion for animals, and may even be exposed to or encouraged to participate in crimes such as dog-fighting.

Federal investigators want to help young offenders before their crimes escalate to humans, and also want to help families in trouble get help.

State Laws

All the states now have some animal cruelty offenses that are classified as felonies, and there are misdemeanor charges as well, for various degrees of harm. To find out your state's laws, go to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Some states have been lax in this area but are catching up, no doubt due to public opinion and also due to the FBI's actions.


You could be incarcerated for several years following a conviction on animal cruelty charges and could be ordered to

  • Seek counseling,
  • Perform community service,
  • Perform the terms of a diversion program, and
  • Refrain from owning or caring for an animal.


Some defenses for this crime include

  • You acted in self defense if you were being attacked,
  • The animal in question wasn't covered by the law. Some state laws specify that the protected animals are warm-blooded; others say "vertebrates," etc.
  • You had no intent to harm the animal, it was an accident, or you were putting the animal down because it was suffering due to injury or illness.

If you were charged with animal cruelty or neglect, you (or your parents) will need to contact a criminal defense lawyer like Robert A Murray for guidance for in preparing an effective defense.


About Me

Legal Help When Buying and Selling Property

I am a real estate attorney, and I have been helping clients buy and sell property for many years. Some clients do not realize their legal obligations and options when it comes to purchasing or selling a house or land. I hope that this blog will be a way for people to get information about legal issues in real estate and what they need to know when doing business. Buying and selling property can be complicated, and all parties involved have legal obligations. Know what is expected of you, and you will be able to get the best out of your real estate transactions.