Burden of Proof
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a. Under American law this legal standard of proof falls below “probable cause,” the standard required before warrants or arrests occur, but above “inchoate and unparticularized suspicion” (a “hunch”). In order to meet this burden there must be “specific and articulable facts” that are “taken together with rational inferences from those facts.” Furthermore, the suspicion must be directed towards the specific individual.
i. State v. Dixson, 280 Ga. App. 260 (2006)
b. Police are permitted to frisk detainees for weapons if they have a reasonable belief that the detainee is armed and dangerous, however they may not do so to search for other contraband such as drugs.
i. Chaney v. State, 207 Ga.App 72 (1993)
c. The standard for evaluating whether or not the suspicion was “reasonable” is that of a “reasonable person/officer.” The suspicion will be found to be “reasonable” if the circumstances would lead a reasonable person to suspect that a person has been or will soon commit some kind of criminal activity. When making this determination all relevant circumstances are taken into account, meaning that even small details that seem small by themselves may combine to create a reasonable suspicion.
i. Chaney v. State, 207 Ga .App 72 (1993)
A person commits the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she:
Maliciously causes the death of an animal;
Maliciously causes physical harm to an animal by depriving it of a member of its body, by rendering a part of such animal’s body useless, or by seriously disfiguring such animal’s body or a member thereof;
Maliciously tortures an animal by the infliction of or subjection to severe or prolonged physical pain;
Maliciously administers poison to an animal, or exposes an animal to any poisonous substance, with the intent that the substance be taken or swallowed by the animal. O.C.G.A. § 16-12-4 (d)(1-4).
Aggravated cruelty to animals is one of the greatest concerns for the general public, and often involves juvenile offenders.
Many fear that these individuals present a threat to society.
Aggravated cruelty may involve, hitting, shooting, poisoning, or other acts that aim to torture an animal.
Aggravated cruelty is seen in the same light as other heinous crimes such as child abuse, drug offenses, and domestic violence.
This type of animal abuse can help identify aggressive antisocial behavior within an individual.
These cases are easier to prosecute (compared to other forms of animal abuse/neglect) because the effects are clearly documented as well as the intent of the accused.
Setting on Fire
Other acts amounting to torture
New law in Georgia now covers more of these serious acts
Often such offenses are associated with other serious crimes such as
Animal fighting is often considered organized crime.
These offenses are often part of a lucrative and underground market.
These “blood sports” are included in the anticruelty laws of the United States and United Kingdom.
The 2007 federal Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act issues felony penalties for those involved in the import and export business associated with dog fighting, and cock fighting.
Each violation can carry a 3 year jail sentence and a $250,000 fine.
It is illegal to transport roosters for fighting purposes across state lines.
Many states have also increased the penalties for being a spectator at these events and for bringing children to these events.
Federal laws are usually weaker than the state laws that govern this issue, leading most law enforcement to utilize state laws to combat this crime.
Dog fighting in particular
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all classify it as a felony
In Georgia, observing a dog fight is a misdemeanor
Cockfighting in particular
Felony in Georgia
Like dogs the federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits interstate transport of fighting cocks
Attending a cockfight as a spectator not illegal in Georgia
A person commits the offense of bestiality when he performs or submits to any sexual act with an animal involving the sex organs of the one and the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina of the other. O.C.G.A § 16-6-6.
Sexual contact with animals was once associated with “crimes against nature,” once many of these laws were repealed, the sexual contact did not weigh heavily unless it involved some other offense such as trespass, or cruelty to animals.
In an attempt to refortify the laws, legislatures have reenacted measures to isolate and confine bestiality from “crimes against nature”.
The majority view is that bestiality is interspecies sexual assault, because the animal cannot consent and the animal often suffers pain or death as a result. Finally, animals are unable to communicate their abuse.
There has been a rise in bestiality cases where children are forced to partake in the acts.
These cases prove difficult for prosecutors because: the number of animals involved is large, the defendant may have mental health issues, and there is also a high recidivism rate in hoarding cases.
Therapeutic intervention for hoarders is often unsuccessful and hard to enforce.
Monitoring by legal authorities and animal protection agencies is a progressive way to prevent recidivism.
There are three types of hoarding and all require a different method of treatment.
Special Difficulties and Issues Regarding Hoarding
There may be community backlash if the defendant is elderly, or viewed as a caring sympathetic caregiver doing something good
This can be dealt with via making use of animal care and control, vets, and prosecutors to inform the public and triers of fact of impact of the offender’s actions on the animals
Most cases will end in conviction or a plea, however they are very difficult to resolve fully
Offenders typically fail to comply with orders to repay veterinary costs or go through psychological assessment or treatment
They will also often accumulate animals again in the future without constant oversight
Animal Hoarders need specific counseling with someone who is knowledgeable on the subject. Your typical psychiatric evaluation will not do any good with an animal hoarder.
Many communities have developed a community-based approach that allows law enforcement, zoning, and animal protection groups to all work in conjunction to prevent recidivism of hoarding.
Conviction and probation that allows long term monitoring can help reduce the recidivism rate of hoarding.
It is important for investigators perusing a potential hoarding case to call upon the many members of the community to size and find new homes for the animals. The assistance provided by the community and its organizations will prove beneficial while the case is pending.
Having intentionally exercised custody, control, possession, or ownership of an animal, fails to provide to such animal adequate food, water, sanitary conditions, or ventilation that is consistent with what a reasonable person of ordinary knowledge would believe is the normal requirement and feeding habit for such animal’s size, species, breed, age, and physical condition. O.C.G.A. § 16-12-4 (b)(2).
Causes physical pain, suffering, or death to an animal by any unjustifiable act or omission.O.C.G.A.§ 16-12-4 (b)(1).
Example: failure to provide medical attention such as veterinary care to an animal that is in the custody of an owner or temporary caregiver.
Many cases of animal neglect involve individuals who may lack the financial resources to provide for the animal(s), or involve an elderly owner who physically cannot care for the animal(s).
Educating the owner or temporary caregiver in these situations may be the first step.
If education and assistance from local resources do not correct the issue then the matter may be resolved legally through prosecution.
Having intentionally exercised custody, control, possession, or ownership of an animal, maliciously fails to provide to such animal adequate food, water, sanitary conditions, or ventilation that is consistent with what a reasonable person of ordinary knowledge would believe is the normal requirement and feeding habit for such animal’s size, species, breed, age, and physical condition to the extent that the death of such animal results or a member of its body is rendered useless or is seriously disfigured. O.C.G.A. § 16-12-4 (d)(5).
Severe neglect cases often involve commercial breeding establishments or hoarding episodes.
Hoarding incidents such as “Puppy mill” cases present a challenge for investigators and prosecutors do to the recent increase in mass breeding operations across the United States.
Puppy mills contain dogs that are being bred and housed in small cages often with several animals being confined within a very small space. The dogs go on to mature and due to their living conditions often develop physical and behavioral issues due to lack of food, socialization and veterinarian care.
The females are impregnated several times, resulting in over-breeding causing severe physical issues with the offspring. The puppies are usually sold within pet stores or at pet auctions.
There is a large financial burden attached to seizing and processing such a large number of animals. Therefore it is beneficial that law enforcement utilize local, state and national organizations to assist with the care of these animals.
It is also important to know the law in Georgia regarding Title 4 Disposal Actions so that the animal(s) may be transferred from one owner to a local animal care facility or protection agency.
Prosecutors should charges for animal neglect as well as tax evasion.
The EPA may need to be notified of the condition of the property where the operation is taking place because there could be violations there as well.
These crime scenes are often highly emotional, often due to the animals being displayed after death, alongside a set of religious beliefs.
Due to the idea that these crimes may involve “satanic” activity it is extremely important for law enforcement officials to objectively focus on the crime that may have been committed rather than the potentially protected beliefs of the accused.
Even if one’s personal belief system is involved with these events, prosecutors should not avoid pursuing and prosecuting all cases that involve animal cruelty.
In regards to animal sacrifices during religious ceremonies, the Supreme Court held that governments should hold the ability to inflict broad restrictions on animal cruelty that may protect animals during religious ceremonies.
Doing this can result in the animal’s death even after only a few minutes, and those who survive can still have permanent physical issues
If it is 85°F outside, the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly open can reach 102°F in ten minutes
Animals being transported in hot vehicles
Includes farm and livestock animals, horses, research animals, auction animals, circus and rodeo animals
Have some federal protections but charges under state law can still be brought if one dies due to heat or cold conditions.
Check your local ordinance for the law in your jurisdiction: Municode
Consider charge of misdemeanor neglect for failure to provide proper ventilation
Prosecutors should focus on prevention
Work in concert with animal care and control and law enforcement to stage public service campaigns in order to warn of the danger and criminal penalties.
These cases present special challenges for prosecutors
The owner may have simply been unaware of how quickly a vehicle can become dangerously hot
The owner may be remorseful, lacked any intent to bring about harm to the animal and can make for a sympathetic defendant
Signs of heat stroke include, but are not limited to:
A body temperature of 104-110 Fahrenheit
Apparent dizziness or lack of coordination
Deep red or purple tongue and gums
Sticky or dry tongue and gums
Bloody diarrhea or vomiting
Often these crimes are motivated by animal fighters seeking “bait” animals or fighting animals and dealers who may sell the animals to research laboratories
Theft of an animal usually falls within the states theft/ larceny laws
Capturing or harming protected animal species
Endangered Species Act protects endangered or threatened species from “take” or being traded or sold
“Take” is to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill trap, capture, or collect