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Animal Cruelty Laws and Animal Cruelty Charges

Man faces charges after his 2 dogs die, left in hot car

An Avon Park man is in jail today after Port St. Lucie police say he left his two dogs in his car without the engine running, causing them to die from heat exhaustion.

Carl A. Castilow, a student at Keiser Golf College at 1860 Southwest Fountainview Blvd., parked his car in the college parking lot Thursday around 11:50 a.m. Castilow, 52, left his two dogs in the car and walked into the college. While three of the car windows were left partially open, the car’s engine was not running.

Port St. Lucie Animal Control took Stole to Kelly’s Animal Hospital at 150 Northwest Central Park Plaza where the veterinarian held the dog overnight. Stole, who was in critical condition when brought to the hospital, died at some point overnight. Castilow was arrested on animal cruelty charges. Source

The term animal rights refers to any action or belief regarding non-human creatures that a person or society sees as proper, moral or legal. People often use the term in reference to the movement toward protecting all living things from human exploitation and abuse. This movement supports the idea that all animals are to be treated humanely and spared from pain, suffering or murder.

The main idea behind animal rights is that, although people and creatures are not equal, non-human beings should be treated in much the same way individuals are. Under this lens, no one should do anything to an animal that causes it pain, suffering or premature death, such as medical experimentation, hunting or imprisonment in circuses or zoos.

Animal cruelty laws are laws which criminalize cruelty to animals. The strength of animal cruelty law varies considerably from nation to nation, as does the definition of “cruelty” and the thinking on which animals should be covered by such laws. These laws define activities which are deemed illegal and may also provide sentencing guidelines which are intended to provide guidance in the event that someone is convicted of animal cruelty.

What Is Animal Abuse?

Animal abuse takes many forms. Animals can be abused anywhere from homes to farms, from pet stores to circuses. In addition to dog fighting, animal abuse also includes:

  • Neglecting an animal by locking it in a car during hot weather, or leaving it in other locations without food, water or shelter
  • Abandoning a pet, such as when the owner no longer wants it or can no longer afford to care for it
  • Maliciously hurting, torturing, maiming or killing an animal
  • Hoarding animals
  • Failing to provide medical care to sick or injured animals you own
  • Animals are silent victims. They can’t reach out to authorities for help. So, law enforcement officials often rely on reports from friends, neighbors and other witnesses.

If in doubt about whether something is or isn’t abuse, it’s better to err on the side of caution and report the suspected abuse. Authorities will investigate and decide whether a crime has been committed.

I Have Been Accused of Animal Cruelty, What Criminal Penalties Might I Face?

In the criminal system, a person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. In this context, aggravated cruelty means conduct which is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or, is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner. There are two factors to consider when facing criminal charges:

  1. States are still split almost evenly in their classification of animal cruelty as a misdemeanor or felony. If it is classified as a misdemeanor there is little likelihood of any punishment aside from a minor fine.
  2. In the states that define it as a felony, courts will usually fine a defendant no more than $20,000 and sentence them to no more than two years in jail. Source
West Palm Beach Animal Cruelty Defense Attorney

Few law firms in Florida have as much experience-or as much success-defending people charged with animal cruelty or neglect, as the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A. in West Palm Beach. Andrew Stine has handled some of the biggest animal cases in Florida and has never lost a case.

Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Examples of animal cases include:

  • Animal cruelty involving dogs, cats, horses, and parakeets that were malnourished, poorly maintained, or abused
  • Dog-fighting cases involving pit bulls
  • Cock-fighting cases

In Florida, animal cruelty can be charged as anything from a civil infraction up to a felony. Those charges, as well as fines, add up when a person is charged with cruelty or neglect to a group of animals. Lawyer Andrew Stine won a test Florida case that established if a person is charged with animal neglect of a group of animals (such as 100 dogs or 25 horses), the person can only be charged with one crime.

Animal Cruelty Defense

Defense in animal cases usually involves a thorough investigation and expert testimony from veterinarians and other animal owners as to what the community standard is for taking care of animals. At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., we go beyond this basic defense strategy to help our clients avoid fines and other costs associated with the crime.

Our law firm has an exceptional track record of getting many animal cruelty charges dismissed prior to trial. Andrew Stine is also experienced in clearing arrest records through the expungement process. If your record has been cleared and you are asked on a job application or apartment lease if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you can confidently answer, “no.”

Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at 561.880.4300. Se habla Español.

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