All states have some protections to defend animals from human acts of cruelty. Florida has many laws that are designed to decrease animal cruelty within the state and provide a formal way to prosecute offenders. Most people recognize that acts of animal cruelty are terrible and depraved crimes against docile and mostly defenseless creatures, but tragically there are still some who do not think twice about abusive and torturous behavior. These laws help to protect animals from these acts and to put abusers behind bars.
Cruelty to Animals Law
The most general law regarding animal rights is the Cruelty to Animals Law, which outlines a number of qualifying offenses. If an individual is arrested for cruelty under this law, s/he will be charged with either a first degree misdemeanor or a third degree felony, depending on the severity of the offense. Some examples of offenses under this law include:
- Driving a work animal to exhaustion or starvation
- Torment, torture, or mutilation
- Depriving food or shelter
- Transporting an animal in a cruel or inhumane way
- Having an animal tied up so that it cannot adequately defend itself or access food, water, and shelter
Any offender of this statute may be ordered to serve jail or prison time if convicted, in addition to paying steep fines.
Animal Fighting Act
Dog fighting, cockfighting, and any other staged fighting between two animals is illegal under Florida law. Like with the Animal Cruelty Law, any individual found to be participating in animal fighting may be charged with a first degree misdemeanor or third degree felony. Some of the possible offenses for which a person may be arrested include:
- Betting on or attending an animal fight
- Staging, promoting, or charging admission to a fight between two animals
- Owning, leasing, or operating a facility that is knowingly being used for animal fights
- Baiting an animal to fight another, or using an animal to bait another
- Owning or training animals specifically for fighting
- Possessing animal fighting equipment
Any of these offenses could land you in jail for several years and may result in a costly fine. In addition, a felony conviction for animal cruelty counts as one strike towards Florida’s Three Strikes Law. If you have been charged with animal cruelty, it is therefore important to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your defense.
For More Information
To learn more about Florida animal cruelty laws and criminal defense, please visit the website of the experienced West Palm Beach criminal attorneys of Eric N. Klein & Associates, P.A. today.