Virginia has a number of laws to protect animals in our state. Animal cruelty is a serious crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If you have been arrested for animal abuse, you need an attorney at your side who can mount a strong defense strategy that could help you get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty Offenses
It is against the law to abuse or mistreat any animal in our commonwealth. Under Virginia Code §3.2-6570, a person could be charged with a misdemeanor offense for the following:
- Mistreating or abandoning an animal
- Torturing an animal
- Willfully inflicting inhumane pain or injury on an animal unless it is connected with a scientific study
- Administering drugs or medications to hide sores
- Depriving an animal of needed food, drink, shelter, or emergency care
- Beating, maiming, or mutilating an animal
- Lassoing or otherwise restricting the legs of an equine in order to intentionally cause them to trip or fall in a rodeo, contest, or exhibition or for entertainment
- Willfully engaging in other acts of animal cruelty
Violation of this law is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, an individual could be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500.
Felony Animal Abuse Crimes
On July 1, 2019, a new law went into effect that makes abuse of a cat or dog a Class 6 felony. It is a crime under the statute to:
- Torture, beat, maim, or mutilate a dog or cat
- Cause the death of a companion dog or cat due to their injuries
A dog or cat is considered a companion if they are an individual’s pet. A person found guilty of violating this new law could be punished as follows:
- Prison sentence of up to five years
- Fine of up to $2,500
Have you been charged with an animal abuse crime in Norfolk or Virginia Beach? Call our office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced criminal defense lawyers to learn how we can help you aggressively fight the charges you face.