Instigating fights between animals is a felony in Wisconsin

All charges involving animal abuse are incredibly serious.  An arrest or charge for a crime involving animals can attract media attention that will live with you for a lifetime.  Unfortunately, instigating fights between animals is no exception.

Secondly, instigating fights between animals is a felony-level charge.  A first offense is a Class I felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 3.5 years prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  A second or subsequent offense is a Class H felony, carrying 6 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  These penalties are certainly significant and carry the serious potential for prison time.

Finally, the criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. have experience defending charges involving animals.  We recognize the serious nature of the charges you’re facing.  And we certainly recognize the stress you’re experiencing.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your charges.  At that meeting we’ll figure out if our team is a good match and then begin planning your defense.

Section 951.08 of the Wisconsin Statutes – Instigating fights between animals

Section 951.08(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits instigating fights between animals.  The law indicates:

(1) No person may intentionally instigate, promote, aid or abet as a principal, agent or employee, or participate in the earnings from, or intentionally maintain or allow any place to be used for a cockfight, dog fight, bullfight or other fight between the same or different kinds of animals or between an animal and a person. This section does not prohibit events or exhibitions commonly featured at rodeos or bloodless bullfights.
Secondly, section 951.18(2) describes the penalties for violating this offense:
(2) Any person who violates s. 951.08 (2m) or (3) is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Any person who violates s. 951.08 (1) or (2) is guilty of a Class I felony for the first violation and is guilty of a Class H felony for the 2nd or subsequent violation.
The law for this offense is relatively clear, but jury instructions always make things easier to understand.
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Wisconsin Jury Instruction – Criminal 1986

Wisconsin criminal jury instruction 1986 describes the elements of this offense:

  • Firstly, the defendant instigated, promoted, participated in the earnings from, or maintained or allowed any place to be used for a cockfight or dogfight; and
  • Secondly, the defendant did so intentionally.
Intent requires that the defendant acted with the mental purpose to instigate, promote, participate in the earnings from, or maintain or allow any place to be used for a cockfight or dogfight.
But you’ll quickly notice a difference between what the statute and jury instructions describe.  The statute includes broader language, describing situations involving bullfighting, and more broadly fights between any animal and any other animal or human.  The jury instruction in those situations would likely change to match the appropriate combination of animals/humans.  To be very clear, the law prohibits instigating fights between any animal and another animal or human – the different language in the standard jury instruction doesn’t matter.

How do we defend your animal fighting charge?

Firstly, it’s important to recognize that animal fighting charges are all a bit different.  Because the animals, the humans, the cops, and the facts are different, each case requires a different approach.

Did your case involve some kind of sting operation?  If informants were used to infiltrate an animal fighting ring, it’s certainly important to look into the credibility of those informants.  Secondly, if the informants were paid, that certainly impacts their credibility.  If the informants were “working off” their own charges, that’s also important.  Those informants had something to gain from getting you in trouble, and that has an impact on their credibility.

Or was the case more simple, based on normal witness testimony?  Credibility issues still remain.  Unfortunately, criminal cases frequently involve dishonest witnesses, dishonest police officers, and their testimony.  Attacking the credibility of these witnesses using proveable facts helps any case.

And finally, you always maintain the right to trial.  An innocent person should not take a plea.  The government must prove all of the elements of this crime beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be found guilty.  If the government cannot prove the elements, they cannot find you guilty.  But sometimes prosecutors and the defense don’t see the case the same way, and that’s where a jury trial comes in.

A man engages in a cockfight
Cockfighting falls under the instigating fights between animals statute. Contact our criminal defense attorneys for immediate help: (414) 270-0202.

Finally, contact our criminal defense lawyers immediately for help

Our criminal defense lawyers focus 100% of their working time on defending individuals facing criminal accusations throughout Wisconsin.  That means we’re certainly in a position to help defend your instigating fights between animals charges.

Secondly, there’s a chance your case has received media attention.  The criminal defense lawyers at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. have experience defending individuals in high profile cases.  We recognize the discretion required to effectively defend an individual through a case that landed in the media.

And finally, give us a call.  Our criminal defense law firm offers free initial consultations for potential clients.  During that initial consultation we’ll figure out potential defenses to your charges and how to begin defending you.  While we won’t be able to predict where your case moves with time, we can begin figuring things out.

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