Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Understanding Massachusetts Animal Cruelty Charges

A man in Massachusetts was recently arrested after attempting to harm animals through the use of peanut butter baits that contained razor blades. Law enforcement arrested the man after receiving a tip-off about the man’s activity. During initial surveillance, officers from the Marine and Environmental Services reported that they had spotted the man baiting the tree and watching as animals were lured to his trap inside Falmouth’s Goodwill Park. 

It remains uncertain when the man began trapping or how often he did it. As a result of this activity, the man is now charged with animal cruelty, reckless behavior creating a risk of serious bodily injury, and injuries to trees. According to Massachusetts Law Enforcement, the man has since been released on bail after his weekend arrest. In addition to facing criminal penalties, the public also expressed disgust for the behavior after several photos of the man were posted online. 

In 2014, animal abuse laws in Massachusetts were greatly expanded. The Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) increased punishments for existing animal abuse crimes as well as created a mandatory requirement for veterinarians to report abuse. Currently, the PAWS act states that the punishment for animal abuse ranges from five to seven years in prison as well as fines of $5,000. This article reviews some other important details about animal abuse charges that you should know. 

Animal Abuse in Massachusetts is a Felony

Under current Massachusetts laws, animal cruelty is classified as a felony. Fortunately, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can sometimes help reduce these charges to misdemeanors. A person has a great chance of receiving a charge less than a felony if either they have a strong defense or the prosecution has weak grounds on which to base a conviction. 

Types of Animal Abuse Massachusetts Recognizes

There are several types of animal abuse recognized in Massachusetts, which include:

  • Animal abandonment. This category applies when a person leaves a pet behind after moving or refuse to let an animal return into a home.

  • Animal cruelty. This category comprises things like intentional torture as well as physical violence.

  • Animal neglect. This category includes things like not providing an animal with sufficient food or water.

  • Extreme heat. An individual who has custody of an animal cannot leave it in their vehicle during extreme weather conditions that would endanger the animal’s health. 

If a person is convicted of animal cruelty in Massachusetts, the individual can end up facing serious penalties. The exact consequences that a person faces depends on whether the offense was a first time or subsequent offense. 

Penalties break down in the following manner:

  • First offense. This penalty can result in up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. 

  • Second and subsequent offenses offense. Individuals convicted of this offense can end up facing 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000. 

In addition to these penalties, an individual will also forfeit any rights to ever work with or around animals in Massachusetts. 

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Given the serious consequences that can result from a conviction for animal cruelty, it can help to speak with an experienced Massachusetts criminal lawyer. Experienced criminal defense lawyer Edward R. Molari can help respond to these charges. Contact attorney Molari’s office today to schedule an initial free consultation.