Cruelty to Animals

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 accidently leaving you animal in 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.

Unattended Confined Animal in a Motor Vehicle

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.

Ways to commit Animal Cruelty in Arizona

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2910, there are 16 ways to commit Animal Cruelty:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly subjecting an animal under your custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly failing to provide medical attention necessary to prevent protracted suffering to any animal under your custody or control. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicting unnecessary physical injury to any animal. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Recklessly subjecting any animal to cruel mistreatment. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly killing any animal under the custody or control of another person without legal privilege to do so or the consent of the owner. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Recklessly interfering with, killing, or harming a working or service animal without legal privilege or consent of the owner. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly leaving an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle and physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Intentionally or knowingly subjecting any animal under your custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment that results in serious physical injury to the animal. This is a Class 6 Felony.
  • Intentionally or knowingly subjecting any animal to cruel mistreatment. This is a Class 6 Felony.
  • Intentionally or knowingly interfering with, killing, or harming a working or service animal without legal privilege or consent of the owner. This is a Class 6 Felony.
  • Intentionally or knowingly allowing any dog under your custody or control to interfere with, kill, or cause physical injury to a service animal. This is a Class 6 Felony.
  • Recklessly allowing any dog under your custody or control to interfere with, kill, or cause physical injury to a service animal. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Intentionally or knowingly obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over a service animal with the intent to deprive the animal’s handler of the animal. This is a Class 6 Felony.
  • Intentionally or knowingly subjecting a domestic animal to cruel mistreatment. This is a Class 5 Felony.
  • Intentionally or knowingly killing a domestic animal without legal privilege or consent of the owner to do so. This is a Class 5 Felony.
  • Intentionally or knowingly harassing a working animal that is in a law enforcement vehicle without legal privilege or consent of the owner. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

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.

Punishments for Animal Cruelty

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.

What to do if you are charged with cruelty to animals

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.

 

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