As with many areas of law, claims of animal cruelty can bring federal or state charges. In some cases, there might be local ordinances addressing the subject. Regardless of what jurisdiction brings animal cruelty charges, it’s important to meet them with a strong legal defense and the time to call an attorney to start the process is the instant investigating officers show up.
Texas has strong economic dependence on animals of all kinds. Horses and cattle are mainstay elements of agriculture. Dogs, cats and so many other animals, even chickens, enjoy status as companion animals or pets. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to learn that Texas ranks near the top of states for animal protection laws by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Penalties in Texas can be severe
The federal law concerning animal cruelty is broad in its coverage, but enforcement is largely focused on controlling such things as puppy mills and assuring the welfare of animals bred for research. It’s at the state level where statutes and penalties become much more specific.
For example, the provisions of the Texas anti-cruelty statute cover both livestock and non-livestock categories of animals. It makes it illegal for a person to deny an animal of the food, water and reasonable shelter required to keep it in good health. Abandonment of an animal is also a violation of the law.
Someone convicted of animal cruelty for the first time could face Class A misdemeanor penalties of up to a year of incarceration and a fine of $4,000. Someone convicted of a repeat offense could see the case treated as a state jail felony yielding a term of from 180 days to 2 years and a $10,000 fine.
Considering all that, and the potential damage to your reputation if you raise livestock or breed animals for a living, it becomes clear that cruelty charges must be taken seriously.