What is animal cruelty?

What is animal cruelty?

Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272, Section 77 it is illegal to treat an animal with cruelty. Cruelty means inflicting severe or unnecessary pain upon an animal without any justifiable cause. The maximum penalty is seven years in state prison and/or a $5000 fine.

This post will answer the following legal questions on animal cruelty:

  • How does the Commonwealth prove a defendant guilty of the offense of “cruelty to animals”?
  • What is the legal definition of “cruelty”?
  • Does the Commonwealth need to prove knowledge or specific intent in engaging in conduct in violation of the statute prohibiting cruelty to animals?

What does the government need to show to prove someone committed animal cruelty?

In order to prove a defendant guilty of the crime of cruelty to animals, the Commonwealth must prove ANY of the following elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the defendant ___________ an animal:
    • Overdrove
    • Overloaded
    • Drove when overloaded
    • Overworked
    • Tortured
    • Tormented
    • Deprived of necessary sustenance
    • Cruelly beat
    • Mutilated
    • Cruelly killed
  • That the defendant caused or procured an animal to be:
    • Overdriven
    • Overloaded
    • Driven when overloaded
    • Overworked
    • Tortured
    • Tormented
    • Deprived of necessary sustenance
    • Cruelly beaten
    • Mutilated
    • Cruelly killed
  • That the defendant used a live animal in a cruel or inhuman manner in:
    • A race
    • A game
    • A contest
    • Training

…as lure or bait (except an animal if used as lure or bait in fishing)

What does it mean to have charge or custody of an animal?

  • That the defendant had the charge or custody of an animal, EITHER as owner or otherwise, AND:
    • Inflicted unnecessary cruelty upon it
    • Unnecessarily failed to provide it with:
      • Proper food
      • Drink
      • Shelter
      • A sanitary environment
      • Protection from the weather
  • That the defendant was the:
    • Owner
    • Possessor
    • Person having the charge or custody of an animal

…AND:

  • Cruelly drove or worked it when it was unfit for labor
  • Willfully abandoned it
  • Carried it or caused it to be carried in or upon:
    • A vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner
    • A way and manner which might endanger the animal carried
  • That the defendant knowingly and willfully authorized or permitted an animal to be subject to (ONE OR MORE):
    • Unnecessary torture
    • Suffering
    • Cruelty of any kind

What is cruelty?

Moreover,“cruelty” means inflicting severe or unnecessary pain upon an animal without any justifiable cause.

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.

CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.

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