What is Animal Cruelty in Florida?
Even though there are millions of people throughout the country who dedicate both their lives and money to pets and also use animals as a means of making a living, this doesn’t mean animal cruelty doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, it does. Florida has harsh penalties for anyone caught overdriving, overloading, killing, mutilating or depriving an animal of sufficient food and shelter. Also, anyone who is caught transporting an animal in a vehicle in an inhumane way could be in trouble with the police as well.
Each of the above acts of animal cruelty is classified as a 1st degree misdemeanor. A person committing aggravated animal cruelty, which is intentionally acting in a way that causes an animal to die in a cruel manner, or intentionally treats the animal in such a way that it has to endure unnecessary pain or suffering, could be charged with a 3rd degree felony.
Florida legislators not only treat animal cruelty seriously in Miami but in addition two Florida congressmen have sponsored a bill in the United States House of Representatives with the intention of making acts of animal cruelty a federal crime too. If passed, a defendant could end up with a prison sentence lasting at least 7 years.
Federal crimes commonly impose longer sentences and bigger fines compared with state penalties. If this federal legislation is passed, then anyone who subjects an animal to cruel acts will be punished accordingly and they cannot expect to be treated lightly.
Removing a pet from its owner
Under Fla. Stat. § 828.073, a law enforcement officer, animal control officer, or an agent of a Florida humane society may take into custody any neglected or abused animal. The owner should be entitled to a court where a decision is made whether the owner is considered fit to have the pet returned. In Florida, it is a misdemeanor if an owner abandons a pet in any of the following circumstances:
deserting a maimed or sick animal to die;
deserting an animal who is suffering from an injury or malnutrition;
abandoning any animal in a public place or street without the right care, water, food, protection and shelter.
Rules for Confining a Pet
When a person confines an animal it must provide:
sufficient “good and wholesome” water and food;
good air circulation;
sufficient space to exercise.
Any violation of these requirements will be considered a misdemeanor under Fla. Stat. § 828.13(2)(a), (b).).
Rescuing a pet from a hot car
Florida does allow a ‘Good Samaritan’ to enter a locked car by breaking the lock in order to rescue a pet that is in obvious distress especially if that is the only way the pet can be saved. A process has to be followed which is:
calling 911 or law enforcement immediately;
breaking into the vehicle using the minimum force required to release the pet,
stay with the pet/animal in a nearby safe place until a police officer or emergency responder is present.
Special protection given to service animals
In Florida, it is a misdemeanor to kill, injure or interfere with any service animal, or allow a dog to perform such an act. The crime for this is considered a felony, typically if the animal was intentionally killed or hurt. Added to any criminal penalties, the person found guilty of the act will be made to pay full restitution for any injuries caused such as vet expenses, the cost of replacing the animal if it was killed and if necessary the training of a new one.
If you are facing a charge for animal cruelty don’t try to fight it on your own but talk to experienced Miami Criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq., who will look into your case and defend you in the best way possible. You can contact the Law Firm of Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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