On May 5th, the Animal Humane Society will be hosting its annual 5-mile Walk for Animals. Appelman Law Firm is an avid participant in the event and after months of fundraising, we will be making the trek on Saturday morning in Golden Valley.
In honor of the upcoming event, today we are going to discuss animal cruelty laws in Minnesota.
Minnesota statute 343.21 prohibits the following actions to be taken against animals:
Torture: It is illegal to torture, cruelly beat, neglect, or unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate, or kill any animal. It is also forbidden to overwork any animal or work any animal which is unfit for labor. All of these apply whether or not the animal belongs to the offender.
Cruelty: It is a criminal offense to instigate or further any act of cruelty to any animal, or to commit any act which is likely to produce cruelty to animals.
The penalty for committing an act Torture or Cruelty against an animal which results in substantial bodily harm to a pet or companion animal is imprisonment of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $3,000.
If a person has already received a conviction for the same crime in the last 5 years, or the act or Torture or Cruelty causes death or great bodily harm to the animal, that maximum penalty is extended to 2 years imprisonment and fines of up to $5,000.
If the act of Torture or Cruelty is done to threaten, intimidate, or terrorize another person, the penalty is up to 4 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. That person may also be charged with Threatening Violence with Intent to Terrorize. This is a very serious crime which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
Harming a Service Animal: It is a gross misdemeanor to cause bodily harm to a service animal, or otherwise render that animal unable to perform its duties. If convicted, a person could face up to 2 years in prison and fines of $5,000.
If the harm done to the service animal causes death or great bodily harm to that animal, a person could face 4 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
In addition to any criminal penalties associated with harming a service animal, the court may also order a person to pay restitution for the costs and expenses which result from the crime. These include, but are not limited to: service animal user’s loss of income, veterinary expenses, transportation costs, expenses of temporary replacement assistance services, and the costs of replacing or retraining a service animal. A victim is also entitled to seek further damages in civil court.
Enclosure: No person may keep any animal in an enclosure without providing exercise or fresh air.
Abandonment: No person may abandon an animal. The exception is the lawful and responsible surrender of an animal to an appropriate animal welfare organization. In Minnesota, the Animal Humane Society is the governing body.
Temporary Abandonment: No person may allow a sick, injured, or disabled animal to remain lying in a public place for more than three hours after taking notice of its condition.
In addition to criminal charges, there are many administrative actions which may be taken against a person who is convicted or cruelty to animals.
Even before a trial or verdict, any animals owned by a suspected offender–whether or not they were involved in the purported offense–are to be seized by a law enforcement officer or animal control agent. It then becomes the responsibility of the defendant to prove their capacity to adequately care for the animal(s). The court may also impose other conditions including, but not limited to:
1. imposing a probationary period during which the person may not have ownership, custody, or control of a pet or companion animal;
2. requiring periodic visits of the person by an animal control officer or other appropriate agent;
3. requiring the person to perform community service; and
4. requiring the person to receive psychological, behavioral, or other counseling.
Although crimes of Cruelty to Animals are misdemeanor offenses in Minnesota, there are many aggravating factors which can increase the severity of the charges and any potential penalties. Additionally, there can be overlap in offenses. Depending on the conditions of a case, a person may find that in addition to cruelty charges, they are also facing indictment on charges of terroristic threats or assault.
On May 5th, the Animal Humane Society of MN is hosting its annual Walk for Animals. As part of our commitment to the community, the Appelman Law Firm will be participating as a team. Every day, MN’s premier criminal defense firm is dedicated to protecting citizen rights and defending our clients. Tomorrow, the Appelman Law Dogs will be stepping out to defend the furry friends as well.
Click here to join us as we support the Animal Human Society’s efforts to improve the lives of Minnesota animals.