Animal Abuse and Neglect

Criminal charges for animal abuse and neglect are relatively rare. The Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy found that, in fiscal 2016, only five individuals were convicted of misdemeanor animal abuse or neglect and three individuals were convicted of the felony of aggravated animal abuse by the circuit courts.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services found that, in fiscal 2016, there were 55 probation intakes for animal cruelty violations.

On January 1, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began collecting information and statistics on animal cruelty offenses in Maryland for its comprehensive national crime database. Now as a specific category in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the specified crimes of animal abuse and neglect can be tracked in the future.

Attorney for Animal Abuse and Neglect Crimes in Baltimore, MD

If you were charged with crimes related to the abuse or neglect of animals in Baltimore, Maryland, or the surrounding areas then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates.

The attorneys at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates in Baltimore also represent clients on related charges including dogfighting, cockfighting, possession of dogfighting implements, and the use of certain restraints on unattended dogs.

Call 443-709-9999 to discuss your case today.


Elements of Animal Abuse and Neglect in Maryland

Under Maryland law, it is a crime to abuse or neglect an animal. Crimes for abusing or neglecting an animal can include:

  • overdriving or overloading an animal;
  • depriving an animal of necessary food or sustenance;
  • inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain on an animal; or
  • authorizing, procuring or causing such an act.

If a person has custody or charge of an animal, as an owner or otherwise, then it is against the law for that person to unnecessarily fail to provide sufficient protection from the elements, shelter, space, air, water, nutrition, or necessary veterinary care.


Penalties for Animal Abuse and Neglect in Maryland

Violating the laws against animal abuse and neglect is charged as a misdemeanor in Maryland. These crimes are generally subject to maximum penalties of 90 days imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine. As a condition of sentencing, the court may order a defendant to participate in and pay for psychological counseling.

As a condition of probation, a court may prohibit a defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal.

Aggravated Animal Cruelty Crimes in Maryland

Under Maryland law, a person may not intentionally mutilate, torture, cruelly beat, or kill an animal or cause or procure such an act. Except in the case of self-defense, a person may not intentionally inflict bodily harm, permanent disability, or death on an animal owned or used by a law enforcement unit.

Violating Maryland’s criminal statutes prohibiting aggravated animal abuse can result in being charged with the felony punishable by a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. As a condition of probation, a court may prohibit a defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal. The court may order a person convicted of any of these crimes to undergo and pay for psychological counseling. The court may also prohibit a defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal as a condition of probation.


Exceptions to Maryland’s Animal Neglect and Abuse Statute

Maryland’s provisions against animal abuse and neglect to not apply to lawful hunting or lawful trapping. The crimes of animal neglect and abuse do not include customary and normal veterinary and agricultural husbandry practices including:

  1. dehorning, castration, tail docking, and limit feeding;
  2. research conducted in accordance with the federal Health Research Extension Act or the Animal Welfare Act;
  3. activities that may cause unavoidable physical pain to an animal, including food processing, pest elimination, animal training, and hunting, if the person performing the activity uses the most humane method reasonably available; or
  4. normal human activities in which the infliction of pain to an animal is purely incidental and unavoidable.

Finding a Lawyer for Animal Abuse Cases in Baltimore, MD

If you were charged with animal abuse or neglect in Baltimore, Maryland, or the surrounding areas, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates. We represent clients on related charges for possession of dogfighting implements, the use of certain restraints on unattended dogs, dogfighting, and cockfighting.

Call 443-709-9999 today to discuss your case.