Over the years, animal welfare and animal rights' organizations have succeeded in putting laws into place protecting the welfare of all animals in the state of Florida – including outlawing cock fighting and dog fighting, and making animal cruelty to dogs, cats, horses, parakeets, and all other animals illegal. An offense for animal cruelty can be charged as anything from a civil infraction up to a felony. In Palm Beach County, these laws are enforced by Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control. When the ACC is investigating an animal cruelty complaint, they walk a fine line between their right to investigate yards and fenced areas and your rights under the Fourth Amendment.
Animal cruelty is also an emotionally-charged topic that should be carefully navigated in the court system to avoid any bias that may occur. A thorough investigation and expert testimony from veterinarians and animal owners as to the community standard for animal care is usually necessary. A conviction for an animal cruelty case can come with severe fines, jail time, the inability to own an animal in the future, and the consequences that come with a criminal record. An experienced West Palm Beach defense lawyer can fight to protect your rights against unreasonable search and seizure in your Palm Beach County animal cruelty case while working for a favorable outcome like case dismissal.
West Palm Beach Animal Cruelty Defense Attorney
It is important to remember that while the welfare of animals is indeed protected under Florida law, so are your rights as an alleged offender. If you have been arrested on an animal cruelty charge in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, or the surrounding areas in Palm Beach County, exercise your right to an attorney immediately and contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A..
Andrew Stine has over a decade of experience as a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney and has handled multiple animal cruelty and neglect cases. His animal cruelty experience includes some of the biggest cases in Florida, and he has never lost a case. Andrew D. Stine, P.A. has seen most of its success in getting a Palm Beach County animal neglect or cruelty case dismissed before trial.
With a militant attention to detail left over from his army days and a passion for defense stemming from his time as a public defender, Andrew Stine knows what it takes to effectively defend a client. To find out more about what Andrew D. Stine, P.A. can do for your animal cruelty or neglect case in Palm Beach County, call Andrew D. Stine, P.A. today and schedule your free initial case consultation.
Florida Definition of Animal Cruelty and Penalties
Animal cruelty and its related offenses are governed by Chapter 828 of the Florida Statutes. Specifically, cruelty to animals is defined by Fla. Stat. § 828.12. This law makes it a first-degree misdemeanor under Fla. Stat. § 828.12(1) to unnecessarily overload, overdrive, torment, deprive of necessary food or shelter, unnecessarily mutilate, or unnecessarily kill or unnecessarily cause to be killed, or otherwise treats any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner. First-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
Animal cruelty becomes a third-degree felony under Fla. Stat. § 828.12(2) when a person intentionally commits any act or causes an act to be committed on any animal that results in the excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering or cruel death of the animal. Third-degree felony animal cruelty has a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and five years in prison. If it is determined that any animal cruelty violation included the knowing and intentional torture or torment of the animal that resulted in the injury, mutilation, or death of the animal, the mandatory minimum fine for the offense will be $2,500 and the offender will be required to undergo counseling or complete anger management.
Subsequent animal cruelty violations are subject to a mandatory minimum $5,000 fine and six months in prison, as well as the obligation to serve his or her entire prison sentence without being eligible for any type of probation, parole, or release program. It is considered a separate third-degree felony animal cruelty offense punishable by up to five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine to intentionally trip, fell, rope, or lasso the legs of a horse for sport or entertainment purposes.
Veterinarians are generally exempt from civil or criminal justice regarding alleged animal cruelty that occurred during and as a regular part of the normal and reasonable practice of medicine. No matter the circumstances of your animal cruelty case in Palm Beach County, the services of an experienced West Palm Beach animal cruelty defense lawyer are highly recommended to protect your rights and your future from the penalties and stigma resulting from conviction.
Animal Fighting and Baiting as a Florida Offense and Penalties
Known as the Animal Fighting Act, the law that governs animal fighting offenses in Florida is Fla. Stat. § 828.122. Under this law, animal fighting includes cock or rooster fighting, bird fighting, dog fighting (such as pit bulls), bear fighting, or forced fighting between any other animals. To bait and animal means to attack with violence, provoke, or harass an animal with one or more other animals for the purpose of training an animal for fighting or causing it to engage in fights with or among other animals. This includes the use of live animals in training greyhounds. It is a third-degree felony in Florida to commit any of the following animal fighting or baiting actions:
- Bait, breed, train, transport, sell, own, possess, or use any wild or domestic animal for the purpose of fighting or baiting
- Own, possess, or sell equipment for use in an action involving animal fighting or baiting
- Own, lease, manage, operate, or have control of any property kept or used for any activity or action involving animal fighting or baiting
- Promote, stage, advertise, or charge admission to a fight or baiting between animals
- Perform any service or act to facilitate animal fighting or baiting including security, refereeing, handling animals, transporting animals, or being a stakeholder of money wagered on an animal in a fight or bait
- Bet or wager any money or other valuables on an animal fight or baiting
- Attend the fighting or baiting of animals
A conviction for third-degree felony animal fighting has a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Additionally, you may be given a court order that prevents you from owning, keeping, possessing, harboring, having custody of, or having control of any animals that are the subject of your conviction for a period of time or permanently.
It is not an animal fighting or baiting offense to only be in possession of an animal used for fighting or bating, nor is it an offense if it is found that the alleged violation is within the normal practices of hunting with animals or animal husbandry in Florida. Working with an experienced Palm Beach County animal fighting defense attorney could be the difference between achieving a favorable outcome like a case dismissal or not guilty verdict and conviction in your animal cruelty or fighting case in the West Palm Beach area.
Andrew D. Stine, P.A. | Animal Fighting Defense Lawyer in Palm Beach County
If you have been arrested and charged with animal cruelty or animal fighting such as pit bull fighting or cock fighting anywhere in Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Park, Lantana, North Palm Beach, Pahokee, Palm Beach, Palm Springs, and Tequesta, it is important to take the first step in your defense and contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A. immediately. When considering an attorney, it is best to call him as soon as possible after your arrest.
Andrew Stine is an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney with 10 years of experience, including several animal cruelty cases. Your first consultation with Andrew D. Stine, P.A. is free, so call 561-832-1170 today and schedule yours.