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Ducks Attacked a Local Man, What Are His Rights? A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer's Perspective

June 22, 2018

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Florida is full of wildlife, and each city has various laws protecting animals. A recent local case raises questions about how to behave and what to do if you feel threatened by an animal. Our Miami criminal defense lawyers have faced many cases like this. In this case, a Florida man was charged with beating four ducks to death. He was charged with four counts of cruelty to animals. The defendant admitted to law enforcement authorities that he beat the adult duck with a stick and stomped three ducklings to death. He told law enforcement that the adult duck wandered onto his property and attacked him. The police charged the man with violating a city ordinance. He got off lucky. With the advent of animal rights activists, Florida legislature has codified stricter penalties for maiming, torturing or killing animals.

Florida Wildlife
Florida Protects Animal Rights

The Florida legislature sought to protect animals when they passed Florida Statute 828.12 and its subsections for people who commit the criminal offense of cruelty to animals. Florida Statute 828.12(1) punishes any individual who unnecessarily mutilates or kills any animal or treats any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner. Anyone who violates this statute is facing a first degree misdemeanor and a fine of up to $5,000. The potential penalties range from pre-trial diversion up to 364 days in the county jail. The punishment sought by the State will largely depend on the input from animal rights groups and the personal feelings of the prosecutor handling the case (of course that would never be admitted). Cruelty to animals crimes often become media cases and are assigned to prosecutors with more experience.

Animal Cruelty Case
Animal Cruelty Is Often a Felony

Cases of animal cruelty can also be charged as a felony. Florida Statute 828.12(2) provides that any individual that owns or has custody of an animal and commits an act or fails to commit an act that leads to a cruel death or causes excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal can be charged with aggravated animal cruelty. The offense is a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison. Again, the range of penalties ranges from a pre-trial intervention program, which would lead to an ultimate dismissal of the charges upon the completion of the conditions set forth by the State, up to a period of incarceration.

What Options Does the State Have?

A probationary sentence could also be offered by the State. The conditions of probation would include a large amount of community service hours (probably working with animals and a hefty fine). The penalties offered will again depend in large part on the input from animal activist groups and the prosecutor handling the case. Other factors that will determine the outcome of the case will depend on the types of animal involved and the nature of the cruelty committed against the animals involved in the case. If someone is charged for violating this statute and convicted a second time, the defendant will have to serve a minimum of six months in jail and pay a minimum fine of $5,000.

Animal Cruelty Can Also be Charged as a Felony
Animal Cruelty Is a Crime

The criminal defense lawyers at DMT have represented individuals charged with animal cruelty with outstanding results. The outcomes in these cases depend in large part on the media coverage of the case, the animal rights groups involved, and the prosecutor assigned to the case. When it comes to protecting your rights, animal cruelty cases are no different from any other crime. Always invoke your right to remain silent and seek out an experienced attorney familiar with these types of crimes to defend the case. Contact our Miami criminal defense lawyers at (305) 444-0030 to learn more about your rights.

References: Florida Today
Categories: Animal Cruelty
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