RSPCA Animal Cruelty Offences

Lawyers Defending RSPCA/Animal Cruelty Prosecutions

Animal cruelty charges, is the RSCPA prosecuting you for animal cruelty? As criminal lawyers we have significant experience in relation to defending animal cruelty charges.

We have offices at Melbourne, Ringwood, Dandenong, Frankston, Geelong and Moorabbin in close proximity to the local Magistrates’ Courts in these areas.

If you have been charged by the RSPCA with animal cruelty offences you need a lawyer who is not going to judge your situation but who will work hard to get you the best possible outcome.

The judiciary treats animal cruelty offences very seriously. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 some of the more serious charges can attract maximum penalties of up to two years in prison and fines of up to $60 000.

Animal Cruelty Charges

Some of the charges that you might expect to find in relation to animal cruelty offences include:

  • Section 9(1)(a) wounds, tortures, overworks, assaults, torments or terrifies an animal;
  • Section 9(1)(b) loads, crowds or confines causing unreasonable pain or suffering to an animal;
  • Section 9(1)(c) Omits to do an act that causes unreasonable pain or suffering to an animal;
  • Section 9(1)(d) drives, carries or packs an animal which subjects the animal to unnecessary pain or suffering;
  • Section 9(1)(e) works, rides or uses an animal when the animal is unfit causing the animal unreasonable pain or suffering;
  • Section 9(1)(f) is in charge of an animal and fails to provide the animal sufficient food, drink or shelter;
  • Section 9(1)(h) abandons an animal kept for domestic purposes; and
  • Section 9(1)(i) is in charge of an animal and fails to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment for the animal.

Being found guilty of any of the above offences leaves a defendant liable to a penalty of not more than 12 months in prison and a fine of no more than 246 penalty units or approximately $30 000.

A person who commits an act of cruelty to an animal that results in the death or serious disablement of the animal is said to have committed an act of aggravated cruelty upon that animal. This increases the maximum penalty to two years in prison with a maximum fine of $60 000.

What are the defences to animal cruelty charges?

It is a defence to the charges to show that at the time of the alleged offence the owner had passed responsibility for the care of the animal to another person who had agreed to care for the animal.

Other defences include being able to demonstrate that the owner acted reasonably under all the circumstances.

Ancillary (other) orders in relation to animal cruelty charges

Offences that are deemed to be serious offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 bring many other potential penalties.

 If a Court finds a person guilty of a serious offence under section 12 of the Act, they may choose to disqualify the person for a period of up to 10 years from being a person in charge of an animal of the kind specified in the order.

This disqualification can be conditional. For example, the Magistrate might make an order that the person is not permitted to have more than two cats at a time.

If you have been charged with cruelty to animal offences call our office today, and have one of our experienced criminal lawyers defend you in Court.

Section 9 Cruelty

(1) A person who—

(a) wounds, mutilates, tortures, overrides, overdrives, overworks, abuses, beats, worries, torments or terrifies an animal; or

(b) loads, crowds or confines an animal where the loading, crowding or confinement of the animal causes, or is likely to cause, unreasonable pain or suffering to the animal; or

(c) does or omits to do an act with the result that unreasonable pain or suffering is caused, or is likely to be caused, to an animal; or

(d) drives, conveys, carries or packs an animal in a manner or position or in circumstances which subjects or subject, or is likely to subject, it to unnecessary pain or suffering; or

(e) works, rides, drives or uses an animal when it is unfit for the purpose with the result that unreasonable pain or suffering is caused to an animal; or

(f) is the owner or the person in charge of an animal which is confined or otherwise unable to provide for itself and fails to provide the animal with proper and sufficient food, drink or shelter; or

(g) sells, offers for sale, purchases, drives or conveys a calf, which appears to be unfit because of weakness, to be sold or purchased or to be driven or conveyed to its intended destination; or

(h) abandons an animal of a species usually kept in a state of confinement or for a domestic purpose; or

(i) is the owner or the person in charge of a sick or injured animal and unreasonably fails to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment for the animal; or

(j) other than in accordance with the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, the Wildlife Act 1975 or the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, intentionally administers to an animal or lays a bait for the animal containing—

(i) a poison; or

(ii) any other substance which, when administered to that type of animal, has a harmful effect on the animal; or

(k) uses spurs with sharpened rowels on an animal; or

(l) carries out a prohibited procedure on an animal—

commits an act of cruelty upon that animal and is guilty of an offence and is liable to a penalty of not more than, in the case of a natural person, 246 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months or, in the case of a body corporate, 600 penalty units.

(2) It is a defence to a charge under subsection (1) against an owner of an animal to prove that, at the time of the alleged offence, the owner had entered into an agreement with another person by which the other person agreed to care for the animal.

Section 10 Aggravated cruelty

(1)  A person who commits an act of cruelty upon any animal which results in the death or serious disablement of the animal commits an act of aggravated cruelty upon that animal and is guilty of an offence and is liable to a penalty of not more than, in the case of a natural person, 492 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years or, in the case of a body corporate, 1200 penalty units.

(2) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) may be liable to the penalty for that offence in addition to or instead of any other penalty to which the person is liable under section 9.