Arizona Animal Cruelty Laws

arizona animal cruelty lawsAnimal cruelty is a serious offense in Arizona and punishable with jail time. But you don’t have to beat an animal to be charged with animal cruelty. Even abandonment and neglect are considered animal cruelty and carry misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the case. If you’re facing animal cruelty charges, your best chance at avoiding jail time or hefty fines is to hire an Arizona criminal defense attorney.

Why is animal cruelty a criminal offense?

Animals are unable to help themselves in difficult situations and look to their human owners to provide safe and adequate care. Because animals cannot stand up for themselves in court, law enforcement must be their voices and protect them from undue harm.

While some animals provide food, fur or other important materials that many people use in their everyday lives, it’s still important that animals be respected. Even animals grown for meat deserve good living conditions and a death that is free of extended suffering. That’s why there are animal cruelty laws to oversee and govern the way that pet owners, farmers and other individuals care for animals.

Over the years, animal fighting became a form of entertainment that law enforcement recognized was unhealthy. With this in mind, they have instituted laws that prohibit animal fights, such as cockfighting and dog fights.

Prohibited behavior toward animals in Arizona

Mistreating or harming an animal counts as animal cruelty in Arizona and is prohibited according to Arizona law. The severity of animal cruelty depends on the circumstances, but you should know that you can be charged with animal cruelty for both intentional acts and acts that are reckless toward an animal.

These are some prohibited behaviors toward animals that could lead to you being charged with animal cruelty.

  • Neglecting or abandoning an animal.
  • Failing to provide adequate medical attention and preventative medicine for an animal.
  • Inflicting an animal with unnecessary physical injuries.
  • Cruel mistreatment, including torture, physical injuries or killing an animal in a manner that leaves it suffering for an extended time.
  • Killing or otherwise harming someone else’s animal without their consent.
  • Animal fighting, such as dog fights or cockfighting
  • Additional mistreatments of animals not listed above.

Depending on the circumstances, animal cruelty can be charged as a class 1 misdemeanor all the way to a class 6 felony. Animal fighting is taken very seriously and classified as a class 5 felony. Even being present for an animal fight could leave you facing charges as severe as a class 6 felony because Arizona is so serious about not subjecting animals to such cruelty.

Click here for the statute on cruelty to animals in Arizona.

Arizona criminal defense for animal cruelty

Facing criminal charges for animal cruelty does not mean that you have to accept the charges. Charges are different from conviction. You can fight the charges against you to protect your record and your good name.

One defense against animal cruelty is that you were not of sound mind. The prosecution must prove that you knowingly, intentionally or recklessly caused harm to an animal.

Additionally, you might be able to prove that you provided the appropriate medical care for an animal following an accident, but that it tragically did not make it anyway.

Another defense for animal cruelty is proving that the injuries an animal sustained were an accident. Showing that you provided adequate care for your animal and did nothing to harm them can be a strong defense. In some cases, animals encounter unfortunate circumstances that leave them injured.

Our legal team can help you build a defense that makes sense for you and your circumstances. We’ll evaluate the evidence and work with you to create a plan for avoiding conviction or pleading the charges down to a lesser charge.

Find out the definition of a sex crime in Arizona.