Animal Cruelty

"Nothing is to be preferred before justice".

Experienced and dedicated, Van Riper Nies trial attorneys are committed to protecting your rights.

Florida treats animal cruelty as a serious crime and cases are prosecuted. If you have been arrested and charged with animal cruelty, neglect or any form of animal abuse, you are facing the possibility of significant monetary fines ($50 - $10,000) and the possibility of jail time.

Animal cruelty includes: inhumanely confining an animal, beating an animal, failing to provide water or food, failing to provide adequate shelter and of course, fighting or baiting an animal. Fighting or baiting is a 3rd degree felony with a 5-year jail sentence.

Our attorneys will leave no stone unturned in the defense of their clients. Animal cruelty and animal fighting or baiting cases are complex, however, our attorneys know the law and will work hard to position your case for a not guilty verdict. Our attorneys go beyond basic strategies and will make sure to file motions to suppress any evidence that was taken illegally.

For a free consultation about our animal cruelty defense practice, call us at 561-962-3130, complete the contact form below or e-mail us at We are available day and night and on the weekends.



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 828.12. Cruelty to animals

(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

(3) A veterinarian licensed to practice in the state shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made or services rendered under the provisions of this section. Such a veterinarian is, therefore, under this subsection, immune from a lawsuit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.

(4) A person who intentionally trips, fells, ropes, or lassos the legs of a horse by any means for the purpose of entertainment or sport shall be guilty of a third degree felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this subsection, "trip" means any act that consists of the use of any wire, pole, stick, rope, or other apparatus to cause a horse to fall or lose its balance, and "horse" means any animal of any registered breed of the genus Equus, or any recognized hybrid thereof. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply when tripping is used:
(a) To control a horse that is posing an immediate threat to other livestock or human beings;
(b) For the purpose of identifying ownership of the horse when its ownership is unknown; or
(c) For the purpose of administering veterinary care to the horse.

828.122. Fighting or baiting animals; offenses; penalties

(1) This act may be cited as "The Animal Fighting Act."

(2) As used in this section:

(a) "Baiting" means to attack with violence, to provoke, or to harass an animal with one or more animals for the purpose of training an animal for, or to cause an animal to engage in, fights with or among other animals. In addition, "baiting" means the use of live animals in the training of racing greyhounds.

(b) "Person" means every natural person, firm, copartnership, association, or corporation.

(3) Any person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084:

(a) Baiting, or using any animal for the purpose of fighting or baiting any other animal.

(b) Knowingly owning, managing, or operating any facility kept or used for the purpose of fighting or baiting any animal.

(c) Promoting, staging, advertising, or charging any admission fee to a fight or baiting between two or more animals.

(4) Any person who willfully commits any of the following acts is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083:

(a) Betting or wagering any money or other valuable consideration on the fighting or baiting of animals; or

(b) Attending the fighting or baiting of animals.

(5) Whenever an indictment is returned or an information is filed charging a violation of s. 828.12 or of this section and, in the case of an information, a magistrate finds probable cause that a violation has occurred, the court shall order the animals seized and shall provide for appropriate and humane care or disposition of the animals. This provision shall not be construed as a limitation on the power to seize animals as evidence at the time of arrest.

(6) The provisions of subsection (3) and paragraph (4) (b) shall not apply to:

(a) Any person simulating a fight for the purpose of using the simulated fight as part of a motion picture which will be used on television or in a motion picture, provided s. 828.12 is not violated.

(b) Any person using animals to pursue or take wildlife or to participate in any hunting regulated or subject to being regulated by the rules and regulations of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

(c) Any person using animals to work livestock for agricultural purposes.

(d) Any person violating s. 828.121.

(e) Any person using animals to hunt wild hogs or to retrieve domestic hogs.

(7) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit, impede, or otherwise interfere with recognized animal husbandry and training techniques or practices not otherwise specifically prohibited by law.

828.125. Killing or aggravated abuse of registered breed horses or cattle; offenses; penalties

Any other provisions of this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding:

(1) Any person who willfully and unlawfully, by any means whatsoever, kills, maims, mutilates, or causes great bodily harm or permanent breeding disability to any animal of any registered breed of the genus Equus (horse) or genus Bos (cattle), or any recognized registered hybrid of the specified genera, shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided by s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2) Any person who individually attempts or solicits, or jointly agrees, conspires, combines, or confederates with another person to commit, any act prohibited by subsection (1) and does an act in furtherance of said attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree and is punishable as if the person or persons had actually committed such prohibited act as enumerated in subsection (1), notwithstanding any provisions found in s. 777.04. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit separate convictions and sentences for a violation of this subsection and any violation of subsection (1).

(3) Any person who verbally or in writing threatens to commit any act prohibited by subsection (1) and has the apparent ability to carry out such threat and places the owner or custodian of said animal in fear that such an act as described in subsection (1) is about to take place shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided by s. 775.082, s. 775.083 or s. 775.084.

(4) In addition to any other fines or penalties authorized by law, a person found guilty of violating any provision of subsection (1), subsection (2), or subsection (3) may be ordered by the court to make restitution to the aggrieved party in an amount not to exceed twice the gross fair market value of the said Equus or Bos killed or abused in an aggravated manner, or up to twice the gross loss caused, whichever is greater, plus attorney's fees and any and all related costs. Upon notice the court shall hold a hearing to determine the amount of fines, restitution, or costs to be imposed under this section, if not agreed upon by the parties.

(5) This section shall not be construed to abridge, impede, prohibit, or otherwise interfere in any way with the application, implementation, or conduct of recognized livestock husbandry practices or techniques by or at the direction of the owner of the livestock so husbanded; nor shall any person be held culpable for any act prohibited by this chapter which results from weather conditions or other acts of God, providing that the person is in compliance with recognized livestock husbandry practices.

828.13. Confinement of animals without sufficient food, water, or exercise; abandonment of animals

(1) As used in this section:

(a) "Abandon" means to forsake an animal entirely or to neglect or refuse to provide or perform the legal obligations for care and support of an animal by its owner.

(b) "Owner" includes any owner, custodian, or other person in charge of an animal.

(2) Whoever:

(a) Impounds or confines any animal in any place and fails to supply the animal during such confinement with a sufficient quantity of good and wholesome food and water,

(b) Keeps any animals in any enclosure without wholesome exercise and change of air, or

(c) Abandons to die any animal that is maimed, sick, infirm, or diseased,

is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both imprisonment and a fine.

(3) Any person who is the owner or possessor, or has charge or custody, of any animal who abandons such animal to suffer injury or malnutrition or abandons any animal in a street, road, or public place without providing for the care, sustenance, protection, and shelter of such animal is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both imprisonment and a fine.