Michigan Animal Neglect and Abuse Penalties
Because animals have no voice and are generally defenseless, a person accused of abuse can be vilified in court without a reputable and formidable defense lawyer.
New Michigan Penalties For Animal Neglect
In November 2013, the Michigan Senate unanimously moved to toughen penalties for individuals who allegedly kill or torture animals and extend current rules against neglect or cruelty to breeders and pet shops. The move to toughen animal protection laws is a part of a greater movement to charge and punish individuals accused of animal abuse and neglect. Anyone facing felony or misdemeanor charges involving the mistreatment of animals will want to familiarize themselves with the penalties for animal neglect and abuse.
Senate Bills 285 and 286 would create three degrees of punishment for people who knowingly kill, mutilate or disfigure an animal.
- 3rd-degree offenses would be punishable by up to 4 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $5,000, up to 5 years of probation, and up to 500 hours of community service.
- 2nd and 1st-degree offenses, in which a person killed or tortured companion pet and/or intentionally committed the crime, would be punishable by up to 7 or 10 years, respectively, along with fines and up to 5 years of probation.
These charges are taken seriously by law enforcement and judges.
Jill Fritz, the Michigan Director of the Humane Society of the United States, testified in support of these bills, points to research showing a link between animal abuse and other types of criminal behavior. She is quoted as saying, “Increasing these penalties will help address the clear danger that animal abusers pose to society at large.”
The new legislation would also penalize breeders and pet shops for neglect or cruelty by increasing the maximum penalty of 4 years in prison allowed under current law. Charges against breeders and pet shops may be charged with conspiracy charges, in addition to animal protection charges, because the police will allege that all of the employees were assisting one another in the crime.
It has also been reported that the Animal Legal Defense Fund has determined Michigan to be #3 out of all 50 states in the best laws to protect animals. Illinois and Oregon are #1 and 2. The ALDF cites Michigan’s existing strengths as felony penalties for abuse, neglect, fighting, abandonment and sexual assault, forfeiture, mental health evaluations and treatment, anger management, restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals, and strong animal fighting provisions, among other things.
Defense Attorneys for Animal Abuse and Neglect Charges
Few crimes are more serious in a judge’s eyes than animal abuse and neglect. Likewise, prosecutors tend to go above and beyond in these prosecutions and seek maximum penalties. In the experience of the defense lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., the circumstances that gave rise to the charges are rarely simple or black and white. A great lawyer will humanize their client with the court and prosecution to ensure they are treated fairly. If the whole story is brought forth, including a full background, we can usually get the government to focus on rehabilitation, instead of punishment. Call us for a free consultation and to help you understand the penalties for animal neglect and abuse. We will take the time to talk with you, treat you respectfully, and work with you to develop the best strategy to resolve your case favorably.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.