The Penalties for Animal Cruelty in Arizona

Many domestic animals have come to be a part of life for many people. They’re quite important to them, and unsurprisingly, to Arizona laws as well. Harming the life of any domestic animal in Arizona carries penalties you may never have imagined.
In 2019, Governor Doug Ducey signed into law much more severe punishments for animal cruelty offenders than have ever existed in the Arizona legislation. This article will show you everything you need to know about the penalties for animal cruelty in Arizona and, if found guilty, your chances of a lighter punishment.

What is Animal Cruelty?

You may be wondering, what exactly does the law refer to as animal cruelty? If you’re mistreating an animal, you probably already know, but for the sake of clarity, here is some of what it entails under ARS 13-2910:

  • Inflicting unnecessary physical injury to an animal.
  • Cruelly mistreating an animal.
  • Not providing medical treatment that can inhibit the suffering of an animal under your care or supervision.
  • Allowing an animal in your care or control to suffer negligence or abandonment.
  • Killing an animal under the custody or control of another person without legal privilege or consent of the owner.
  • Abandoning an animal without care or supervision in a vehicle which can lead to its physical injury or death.

Many of these are crimes when it was done intentionally and with the intent to cause harm to the animal.

Penalties for Animal Abuse in Arizona

Before now, animal cruelty in Arizona was a Class 6 felony. This means that if you are found guilty, you may face jail time for about a year. Usually, these cases are deemed minor, and one year in prison may be downgraded to a mere misdemeanor. Offenders barely faced repercussions for their acts. But things are different now. Here is what the new Arizona law on Animal abuse spells for offenders:

  • Animal Cruelty is now considered a Class 5 felony in Arizona.
  • You may face prison time for up to 1½ years.
  • An aggravated class 5 felony may incur up to 2½ years in prison.
  • Even if it is downgraded, it falls to and remains under a class 6 felony.
  • Judges may subject you to counseling, mandatory treatment, and supervision.

Exceptions to the Rules

It is no news that the law may not be binding in every situation of supposed animal cruelty. These are the exceptions to the penalties:

  • Killing an animal in self-defense is not considered an act of animal cruelty.
  • The law allows you to place a poisoned bait on your property to protect your livestock from a domestic dog that has killed or maimed any of them. However, you must post a readable warning sign that includes a ‘poison statement’ on your property to inform people of that danger.
  • Property owners and lessees can put poison on their property to ward off wild or domestic rodents without penalties.

A Chance at Defense

If you have been charged with a case of animal cruelty in Arizona, you may be able to defend yourself for a chance at a downgraded penalty. It is crucial that you work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Arizona to help you make the best decisions and cases in court.