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Animal Laws Protecting Endangered Species

florida-manatee-sanstuary-actAuthorities in Pinellas County announced Tuesday the surrender of the woman shown in photographs taking a joyride on a manatee, classified as an endangered species in Florida.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez, 52, of St. Petersburg, turned herself in shortly after 4 p.m., Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials said.

Deputies had met with Gutierrez at her home and questioned her. She admitted to riding the manatee and claimed she was new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or harass manatees, investigators said.

Deputies explained the law regarding manatees and the possible penalties for violating such laws and said charges would be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

However, the nature of the crime this was not an arrestable offense because it did not occur in the deputy’s presence, sheriff’s officials said.

The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to intentionally “molest, harass, or disturb” any manatee.

The manatee the woman was riding was not thought to have been injured, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act

The act declares Florida a refuge and sanctuary for the manatee, the Florida state marine mammal. The act declares it unlawful for any person at any time, by any means, or in any manner to intentionally or negligently annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb any manatee; injure or harm or attempt to injure or harm any manatee; capture or collect or attempt to capture or collect any manatee; pursue, hunt, wound, or kill or attempt to pursue, hunt, wound, or kill any manatee; or possess, literally or constructively, any manatee or any part of any manatee. The Florida statute provides guidelines for counties to establish manatee speed zones on county waters, as well as manatee protection zones. The Florida Administrative Code sets forth rules by county where manatee protection applies.

A protected species is any plant or animal a government declares by law to warrant protection. Most protected species are considered either threatened or endangered. In these cases, a government establishes certain rules regarding the species, that if violated, can result in fines or criminal prosecution. Protected species laws differ from government to government. In the US, state laws may declare a species protected, while federal laws do not. In most cases a federally declared protected species must be respected by the state.

Animal cruelty laws are laws which criminalize cruelty to animals. 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.

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.”

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.

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