Animal Abuse Are Serious Crimes in Virginia

Animal Rights Book With a GavelVirginia 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.