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Animal Cruelty

If you or someone you know if facing a charge of animal cruelty, it is important to hire an aggressive attorney to help you fight the charges. A conviction for a charge of animal cruelty can have lifelong implications and can alter your life forever. Our office understands the seriousness of these charges and are experienced in handling of these cases. We will fight to defend you and force the State to meet their burden of proof. Contact our office for a free consultation or read on about the charge of animal cruelty or how to find a good lawyer.

What is considered “Animal Cruelty”?

The charge of animal cruelty has become an increasingly more common charge filed in Texas. The State of Texas has included many different acts that constitute animal cruelty. In addition to these things, certain inactions or failures to provide certain things to an animal can result in being charged with animal cruelty. In order to fully understand the charge of animal cruelty, you must look to Texas Penal Code Section 42.092.

Per the Statute:
A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(1) tortures an animal or in a cruel manner kills or causes serious bodily injury to an animal;
(2) without the owner’s effective consent, kills, administers poison to, or causes serious bodily injury to an animal;
(3) fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal in the person’s custody;
(4) abandons unreasonably an animal in the person’s custody;
(5) transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner;
(6) without the owner’s effective consent, causes bodily injury to an animal;
(7) causes one animal to fight with another animal, if either animal is not a dog;
(8) uses a live animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a racetrack;  or
(9) seriously overworks an animal.

“Abandon” includes abandoning an animal in the person’s custody without making reasonable arrangements for assumption of custody by another person.
“Animal” means a domesticated living creature, including any stray or feral cat or dog, and a wild living creature previously captured.  The term does not include an uncaptured wild living creature or a livestock animal.
“Cruel manner” includes a manner that causes or permits unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering.
“Custody” includes responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of an animal subject to the person’s care and control, regardless of ownership of the animal.
“Depredation” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.001, Parks and Wildlife Code .
“Livestock animal” has the meaning assigned by Section 42.09 .
“Necessary food, water, care, or shelter” includes food, water, care, or shelter provided to the extent required to maintain the animal in a state of good health.
“Torture” includes any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering.

What are the possible punishment ranges for “Animal Cruelty”?

Many of the animal cruelty charges filed are Class A misdemeanors. These charges carry a punishment of up to a year in the Harris County Jail and up to a $4,000 fine. Some of the more serious allegations fall into the punishment range of a State Jail Felony. A State Jail Felony has a punishment range of 6 months to 2 years in State Jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

Additionally, if you have been convicted before of animal cruelty, you may be enhanced to a higher offense level. Because of the possibility of enhancement and the seriousness of this offense, it is important to hire an attorney to help you fight to keep these charges off your record.

What are some defenses to Animal Cruelty?

The statute allows for some defenses and exceptions to the charges of animal cruelty. In addition to these defenses, the State of Texas has the burden of proof and must prove each and element of the offense. The burden of proof on a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt” and is the highest burden of the entire legal system. Our office understands the elements of animal cruelty and will hold the State to prove these elements. If the State is unable to prove these elements, they typically dismiss the case or a jury will find you “Not Guilty”.

When the stakes are high and every piece of evidence is critical, you need a Houston Animal Cruelty attorney that will be in your corner and protect you every step of the way. Contact the Law Office of Henry K. Nguyen, P.C. as soon as possible to begin discussing your defense.