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.
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
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.
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
Some defenses for this crime include
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.
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