There are a number of offenses that fall under the umbrella of animal cruelty in the state of Florida. Some of these include animal neglect, felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty, and animal fighting.
In Florida, Animal Neglect falls under the same category as Animal Cruelty. It is unlawful for a person to deprive an animal of necessary sustenance (meaning food or water) or shelter. Additionally, it is a separate crime to unlawfully abandon an animal or confine an animal. Under Florida law, animals must be provided with food, water, wholesome exercise, and change of air if they are confined. It is also unlawful to abandon an animal in a street, road or public place without providing care, protection, and shelter for the animal. Such neglect is a First Degree Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
Animal Cruelty – Felony And Misdemeanor
Animal Cruelty can be charged as either a First Degree Misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail, or a Third Degree Felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. The difference between the two often falls on the injury to the animal involved as well as whether or not the alleged conduct was repeated.
Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty is generally defined as the unlawful and unnecessary overloading, overdriving, tormenting, depriving of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilating or killing of an animal. Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
Felony Animal Cruelty is defined as intentionally committing an act to an animal that results in cruel death or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering. Felony Animal Cruelty is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. For a second or subsequent offense, there is a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of 6 months and a minimum fine of $5,000.
Under the laws of Florida, an animal is defined as "every living dumb creature" and the Courts have construed this to include both domestic and wild animals including cats, dogs, birds, possums, raccoons, and many other types of animals.
Animal Fighting is a crime that is being increasingly investigated and prosecuted in the United States and particularly in the state of Florida. The most common instances of animal fighting include dog fighting and cock fighting. However, again, any type of animal can be included under the law. Regardless of the type of animals involved, the crimes and charges are the same. The law prohibits a person from baiting, breeding, transporting, selling, owning, possessing, or using any wild or domestic animal for the purpose of fighting. It's also illegal to own or possess equipment used for animal fighting and to bet on or knowingly attend an animal fight. All of these offenses are Third Degree Felonies punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
The charges of animal cruelty, animal neglect, and animal fighting are taken very serious and they can have very serious consequences. For instance, the State of Florida frequently charges multiple counts of each offense based upon the number of animals that are involved in the crime. This can often drastically increase the possible penalties a person is facing. It is very important to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney serving West Palm Beach and other cities in Palm Beach County as soon as possible after arrest for these charges.