Felony Charges for Abusing Animals

Posted On: October 31st, 2016 by Bradley J. Groene

The saying “A dog is a man’s best friend” didn’t come from nowhere and now Ohio has taken an additional step to protect our important furry companions by making animal cruelty a felony. Pet ownership across America has only grown in recent years and according to the American Pet Products Association, 54.4 million households owned a dog during the 2015-16 National Pet Owners Survey. Another 42.9 million households owned a cat, while 6.1 million owned a bird, 5.4 million had another small animal, and 4.9 million kept a reptile. While it is common to own a pet, it can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly to ensure the animal is kept safe and in good health.

Misunderstandings or mistakes in caring for your animal can lead to allegations that you purposefully mistreated or hurt your pets. If you live in Ohio and someone has accused you of harming your pet, you can now face felony charges for abusing animals. You should not wait to see what happens or try to defend yourself. It is safer to call Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer Bradley J. Groene at (513) 338-1890. Brad is well-versed in this new law and ready to defend you in court.

Ohio Creates Goddard’s Law

Cleveland weatherman Dick Goddard, set to retire this November, finally achieved his goal of seeing animal abuse become a felony in Ohio. As a long-time animal rights activist, Goddard was crucial in seeing this law passed, which is why it has been nicknamed Goddard’s Law.

Under the law, no one can knowingly torture, torment, needlessly mutilate or maim, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill, or commit an act of cruelty against a companion animal. Also, no person can knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal.

This is a broad law that covers all manner of abuse against animals. However, many cases in the future may turn on whether the animal was knowingly hurt and whether it constituted a companion animal. A companion animal means any animal kept inside a residential dwelling and any dog or cat wherever it is kept (since these are often “outside” animals). Livestock such as cattle and sheep are not included as companion animals and neither are wild animals.

Potential Consequences Under the Law

If you are found to have purposefully committed an action that seriously hurt your pet, you can be charged with a fifth-degree felony. You may end up with a criminal record, lose your pet, have to pay a fine up to $2,500 and be sentenced to up to 1 year in prison. If you are found guilty, it will not be a quick slap on the wrist. There will be serious and long-term consequences for you. Additionally, if you are found to have knowingly injured a police dog or horse, you face a third-degree felony with a mandatory prison sentence and fine.

Attorney Bradley J. Groene can Help
Ohio’s new animal abuse law went into effect in September, which means if you have recently been accused of animal cruelty, you are looking at serious charges and potential penalties. You should contact experienced Cincinnati criminal defense attorney Bradley J. Groene to defend you against these allegations. During a free initial consultation, Brad will get to know you and the circumstances that led to these charges. He will analyze your situation to determine the best defense under the law. Brad will then work to have the charges dropped, but if that is not possible, he will aggressively defend your innocence in court.

Call Bradley J. Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP at (513) 338-1890 to schedule your consultation.