What is animal cruelty?
Oklahoma has various laws designed to protect animals, including prohibiting fights between animals like dogs. The law defines animals as mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and the like, both wild and domesticated (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.1).
Animal cruelty is the willful or malicious torturing, destruction, beating, maiming, mutilation, or killing of any animal, regardless of ownership and whether the animal is wild or domesticated. It’s also depriving an animal of necessary food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care to prevent suffering.
It is also considered animal cruelty to cause, procure, or permit cruelty to an animal. So is willfully initiating, instigating, engaging in or in any way furthering any act of animal cruelty or any act tending to cause such cruelty (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1685).
If you’ve been charged with animal cruelty, it’s important that you contact a Claremore defense attorney immediately. Your attorney can help you come up with a defense to contest the charge.
Contesting the Charge
In order to be convicted of animal cruelty, the prosecution must prove that you acted willfully or maliciously. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, which makes it harder for them. Your defense attorney knows the best ways to protect you from a conviction.
One possible defense is that the cruelty wasn’t willful or malicious. It’s possible that you didn’t intentionally cause cruelty to the animal, and you didn’t know you were.
Another potential defense is that you weren’t the one to cause the cruelty. Maybe you had someone else look after your animal, whether an individual or a business. Perhaps the cruelty occured at the hands of somebody else, and you just didn’t notice.
If the animal cruelty charge is related to lack of food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care for the animal that you couldn’t afford, you could use an indigent defense. Not having money is not a crime. You may be able to get the charges reduced in this case, perhaps to a charge of neglect.
A Claremore attorney from Wirth Law Office can work with you to determine the best defense for your situation.
Having Your Animal Taken Away
An abused or neglected animal may be taken away by a peace officer or animal control officer. They may specify the terms and conditions under which the animal’s owner may maintain custody. This custody agreement is countersigned by the owner. Violation of the agreement could lead to the animal being impounded (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.4).
If your animal is taken away, you need to post a nonrefundable bond for its care. If the animal requires euthanasia to end its suffering, it’ll be performed with or without the owner’s permission.
If someone is arrested with an animal, the police may take custody of it. A lien may be placed on the person’s property to cover necessary expenses associated with the animal (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1686).
If a veterinarian sees an animal they suspect is being abused, they are required to report it to law enforcement within 24 hours of examining the animal.
Their report has to include information about the animal and the name and address of the owner. A good faith report exempts them from civil liability (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.3).
Poisoning and Abandonment
Poisoning an animal is a felony. Anyone who willfully administers poison to someone else’s animal or who maliciously exposes any poisonous substance with intent that it shall be taken by someone else’s animal can be found guilty of this crime.
Even if that person is trying to poison a wild animal that they see as a nuisance, they can be charged if their neighbor’s cat gets into the poison instead.
They can face a fine of up to $250 and/or up to one year in the county jail or up to three years in state prison. (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1681).
Abandoning a living dog, cat, or other domestic animal along a road or anywhere else with the intention of abandoning it is a misdemeanor (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1691). If someone moves away and leaves the animal behind, stops feeding it, or allows it to wander or stray onto someone else’s property with the intention of surrendering ownership or custody, the animal may be considered abandoned.
When an animal is abandoned, a peace or animal control officer may arrange for the animal to be euthanized. The punishment for abandoning an animal is a $100-$500 fine and/or up to one year in county jail (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1692).
Punishments for Animal Cruelty
Animal cruelty is a felony in Oklahoma. The bond amount once you are arrested can be $2,000. You could face up to one year in county jail or up to five years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1685).
Oklahoma considers animal cruelty a serious crime with steep punishments. If you’ve been charged with animal cruelty, your best shot at freedom is to hire a skilled felony defense attorney in Claremore. They help you get the charges reduced or dropped.
Free Consultation with a Claremore Defense Attorney
If you’re facing an animal cruelty charge in Oklahoma, an experienced defense attorney from Wirth Law Office – Claremore can fight for your rights and your freedom. They offer expert legal counsel and advice. For a free consultation, call (918) 213-0950 or fill out the form at the top of the page.