While most Virginians are aware of major criminal charges under Virginia law, such as burglary, rape, and murder, some may not be aware of the crimes contained in Virginia’s animal cruelty laws. While animal cruelty crimes are likely not prosecuted as frequently as major crimes with human victims, they still subject a convicted person to serious penalties and consequences, including a felony or misdemeanor criminal record. A Newport News man faced misdemeanor animal cruelty charges this September, after injuring a chihuahua.
According to The Examiner, a neighbor on the 800 block of Little Dean Circle in Newport News called police after hearing screaming and seeing his neighbor slam something into a fence in his yard. When police responded to the incident, they found an injured chihuahua. The chihuahua had allegedly been slammed into the fence repeatedly by 35-year-old Adam Battles, who was at his girlfriend’s home at the time. Battles’ girlfriend was at work when Battles injured the chihuahua.
The chihuahua was taken to the veterinarian and was diagnosed with a broken leg. Battles was ultimately charged with two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Virginia Animal Cruelty Law
Virginia animal cruelty laws are contained in 3.2-6570 of the Code of Virginia. Under the code, a person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for engaging in the following acts:
- Torturing, abandoning, or otherwise inflicting inhumane injury or pain or cruelly or unnecessarily beating, maiming or mutilating any animal;
- Depriving any animal of necessary shelter, food, drink or emergency treatment;
- Soring an equine or administering drugs to the animal to mask soring;
- Engaging in any act of cruelty to the animal; or
- Carrying or transporting any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner.
In addition, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for the owner of an animal to permit another person to do any of the above acts to his or her animal.
Under Code of Virginia 18.2-11, a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction is punishable by a jail sentence of up to twelve months and a fine of up to $2,500. The penalty can be either the fine or the sentence, or both. In addition to these penalties and consequences, the animal cruelty law specifically provides that the court may order a convicted person to attend anger management courses or other treatment, or to obtain psychiatric or psychological counseling.
As a consequence of this provision, the court may also require the convicted person to bear the costs of any treatment, counseling or psychological or psychiatric treatment or evaluation.
Animal cruelty laws, while perhaps not as often highlighted in the news, are serious crimes under Virginia law. An animal cruelty charge may bring with it a felony or misdemeanor conviction, which will be on a person’s criminal record. If you have been charged with violating animal cruelty laws, or any Virginia criminal law, you should immediately speak with an experienced criminal attorney. An experienced defense attorney can help you understand the charges against you and may be able to defend your case in court. Call an experienced attorney at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.