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Animal cruelty cases are not treated like other criminal cases, and this becomes increasingly clear from the moment law enforcement or animal control begins an investigation. Animal owners who are charged with cruelty are often misunderstood and almost always treated unfairly by the judicial system. It almost seems that defendants who are accused of hurting other people in assault and battery charges can get the benefit of the doubt, but defendants charged with animal cruelty are presumed guilty. The odds are stacked against defendants charged with animal cruelty in Florida, but Benjamin Herbst fights to make sure his client are presumed innocent and treated fairly throughout the entire legal process. Benjamin is an experienced South Florida animal cruelty lawyer who has successfully handled dozens of cases involving dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, poultry and farm animals. He has vigorously defended clients in cases involving just one animal, to complex cases involving upwards of 50 criminal counts. Benjamin is available 7 days a week to offer a free consultation about your animal cruelty case at (954) 543-0305, and has flexible meeting hours at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach locations. Benjamin represents clients in the Tri-County jurisdictions of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, and in the Treasure Coast jurisdictions of Martin and St. Lucie County. Contact Benjamin today and find out what defenses may be available in your case.
Under Florida statute 828.12 any person who unnecessarily overloads, torments, deprives of necessary shelter or sustenance, kills or carries in any vehicle in a cruel and inhumane manner commits animal cruelty. Violations of this section of the law is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. A defendant who does not handle the case properly could also be saddled with a criminal conviction that could last a lifetime. The most common violations of the animal cruelty fall under the sections that prohibit tormenting, depriving of necessary food and shelter and carrying an animal in vehicle in an inhumane manner. Unnecessary tormenting is basically injuring an animal without a valid reason or excuse, and these violations are often reported by veterinarians when an animal is brought for treatment. Other times these incidents can be reported by a household member or a bystander who witnesses alleged mistreatment of an animal. Depriving an animal of necessary food and shelter cases are often initiated by animal control after someone reports a complaint. An animal who is left tethered outside without proper food and shelter could be seized by animal control and then the owner charged. Occasionally we see cases where animals are not provided with sufficient food, but charges for failing to provide are usually related to clean drinking water not being provided in the Florida heat. Another common charge is leaving an animal in vehicle without proper air and water. Under this scenario the defendant could also be charged with improper confinement of an animal without sufficient food or water under section 828.13. These charges are often the result of a bystander calling the police after seeing an animal locked in a car in parking lot. In some cases the owner provided water, left the windows cracked and was only gone for a matter of minutes, but if police arrive on scene and witness an unattended animal in a car they will charge the owner. Another scenario is failing to provide proper veterinary care, which can occur if an animal has untreated injuries, excessive matting of fur, fleas or other infestations. Benjamin Herbst has successfully represented defendants under all of these scenarios, and continues to fight to protect the rights of all people facing animal cruelty charges.
If you have been contacted by animal control or a law enforcement officer about an injury to a pet do not make a statement without consulting with a criminal defense lawyer. Investigators and animal control officers are notorious for assuming guilt in cases where the defendant never intended harm to come to their animal. Most of Benjamin’s clients are animal lovers who have devoted countless hours and spent thousands of dollars to care for their animals. Unfortunately, in the eyes of animal control and state prosecutors, years of love can be meaningless if they think a person committed animal cruelty. If you have been charged or are being investigated for an offense involving an animal in Miami-Dade, Broward Palm Beach, Martin or St. Lucie County, contact South Florida animal cruelty lawyer Benjamin Herbst for a free consultation. Benjamin will go over the charges and explain all of your options in the court case, and can also assist you in recovering any animals that were seized.