Arizona law prohibits cruelty towards animals. However, the ways in which Animal Cruelty can be prosecuted are varied and you can quickly find yourself on the wrong side of an arrest for what you thought was perfectly valid behavior. A person can commit the offense of cruelty to animals in many ways. However, the law explicitly includes if a person “Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle and physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result.” This means that no actual ham need occur to the animal for you to be charged with this crime. It only need be likely that injury or death may occur to the animal. This also means that you can be charged with animal cruelty for accidentally leaving your animal unattended in your vehicle if physical injury or death is likely to occur as a result.
The law allows animal control or other safety officers to use force to rescue an animal from a confined vehicle if the officer decides that the animal is in danger of physical injury or death.
Arizona is especially known for its extreme heat. Serious injury or death can occur if an animal is left in a vehicle alone. Most people are surprised to hear that an animal does not need to be physically injured for criminal charges to arise. Leaving an animal in a confined vehicle, unattended, can lead to charges of Cruelty to Animals.
Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2910, there are 16 ways to commit Animal Cruelty:
Many of these varieties of Animal Cruelty can be committed simply by acting recklessly, or by doing something as simple as leaving your dog in your car. A Phoenix criminal defense lawyer at AZ Defenders can assess your case and explore your legal options moving forwards.
A Class 1 Misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail, up to $2,500 fine plus surcharges, and up to 3 years of probation.
A Class 6 Felony carries a prison sentence of 4 months to 2 years, up to 3 years of probation, a maximum fine of $150,000, and will lead to a loss of civil rights including your right to bear arms. Prior felony convictions will lead to harsher penalties.
A Class 5 Felony carries a prison sentence of 6 months to 2.5 years, up to 3 years of probation, a maximum fine of $150,000, and will lead to a loss of civil rights including your right to bear arms. Prior felony convictions will lead to harsher penalties.
Any criminal convictions can lead to additional non-criminal penalties and consequences, such as difficulty obtaining employment, housing, loans, and licensure.
If you find yourself charged with cruelty to animals, you could face substantial penalties and have a criminal record stain your reputation. If you are facing animal cruelty charges, it is important to retain professional and experienced defense counsel as soon as possible. Contact AZ Defenders at 480-456-6400 or online right away to schedule a free consultation and discuss your options and defense.