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Mistreatment of an animal is a crime in Wisconsin.  Contact our defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202 for help.

The criminal defense lawyers at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. defend mistreating an animal cases.  Animal abuse charges are serious.  Frequently they attract the attention of the media.  And along with that attention from the media certainly comes negative attention from friends, family, and professional contacts.

At Meyer Van Severen, S.C., our criminal defense lawyers are specialist.  We focus 100% of our professional time defending criminal charges. Whether you’re charged with an animal abuse case, or any kind of other criminal charge, we can help you.  We regularly fight for individuals facing the most difficult situations of their entire life.

Finally, there’s only one way we can begin to fight your case.  And that’s by calling us.  We certainly answer phone calls 24/7, and we want to speak with you about your case.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202.

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What is mistreating an animal?

Section 951.02 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits mistreating animals.  The law indicates:

No person may treat any animal, whether belonging to the person or another, in a cruel manner. This section does not prohibit normal and accepted veterinary practices.

Section 951.18(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes provides penalties for mistreating animals:

Any person violating section 951.02, … is subject to a Class C forfeiture. Any person who violates any of these provisions within 3 years after a humane officer issues an abatement order under s. 173.11 prohibiting the violation of that provision is subject to a Class A forfeiture. Any person who intentionally or negligently violates any of those sections is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Finally, the law is relatively straightforward.  The legislature deemed it appropriate to prohibit you from treating animals in a cruel manner.  As we defend criminal charges, it’s important to note that the specific laws we’re discussing include intentional or reckless conduct.

What are the elements of the crime?

As you’re likely aware, all crimes in Wisconsin break down into elements.  Elements are parts of an offense, and the government must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1980 defines the elements of mistreating animals:

  • Firstly, the defendant treated an animal in a cruel manner; and
  • Secondly, the defendant intentionally or recklessly treated an animal in a cruel manner.

Secondly, it’s important we define certain important terms used in this jury instruction:

  1. Cruel means causing unnecessary and excessive pain or suffering, or unjustifiable injury or dearth.
  2. Intentionally requires that the defendant acted with the mental purpose to treat an animal in a cruel manner or was aware that the conduct was practically certain to cause that result.
  3. Negligently requires that the defendant’s conduct amounted to “criminal negligence.”

Finally, what is an animal?  Do deer count?  Certainly.  Section 951.01(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes provides numerous definitions of animals.  The law prohibits mistreatment of warm-blooded creatures, reptiles, and amphibians.  And while deer are certainly animals, deer hunting does not qualify as animal abuse.  The answer why is relatively simple: the law prohibits unjustifiable injury or death.  Likely the overpopulation of deer and the necessity for hunting disqualifies the term unjustifiable.

Does this qualify as felony animal abuse?

Certainly specific acts of animal abuse qualify as felonies.  Any person who intentionally violates section 951.02, resulting in the mutilation, disfigurement, or death of an animal is guilty of a Class I felony.  Additionally, any person who intentionally violates this law, knowing the animal is a law enforcement animal used to perform agency functions or duties, and causes the animal any injury, has committed a Class I felony.

Secondly, if the charge qualifies as a Class I felony, the drafters of the jury instructions suggest that the court add a special question to the instructions.  While different courts will certainly frame the question different ways, it isn’t very difficult to imagine the format.  Something along the lines of “did the defendant’s actions result in mutilation, disfigurement, or death of an animal?” would surely suffice.

Finally, how do I hire a defense attorney from MVS Legal?

Again, the criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. are specialists.  We focus 100% of our professional time on criminal defense.  Whether you’re seeking a defense attorney for an animal abuse case, or any other kind of criminal charge, we can certainly help you.

To start fighting your case, contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. immediately at (414) 270-0202.  We answer calls 24/7 and want to speak with you about your case.