TITLE 16. CRIMES AND OFFENSES
CHAPTER 12. OFFENSES AGAINST
PUBLIC HEALTH AND MORALS
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
16-12-4. Cruelty to animals
(a) As used in this Code section, the
- (1) "Animal" shall not include any fish nor shall
such term include any pest that might be exterminated or removed from a business,
residence, or other structure.
- (2) "Conviction" shall
include pleas of guilty or nolo contendere or probation as a first offender pursuant
to Article 3 of Chapter 8 of Title 42 and any conviction, plea of guilty or nolo
contendere, or probation as a first offender for an offense under the laws of
the United States or any of the several states that would constitute a violation
of this Code section if committed in this state.
- (3) "Willful
neglect" means the intentional withholding of food and water required by
an animal to prevent starvation or dehydration.
(b) A person commits
the offense of cruelty to animals when he or she causes death or unjustifiable
physical pain or suffering to any animal by an act, an omission, or willful neglect.
Any person convicted of a violation of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor;
provided, however, that:
- (1) Any person who is convicted of a second
or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment not
to exceed 12 months, a fine not to exceed $5,000.00, or both; and
Any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection
which results in the death of an animal shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a
high and aggravated nature and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less
than three months nor more than 12 months, a fine not to exceed $10,000.00, or
both, which punishment shall not be suspended, probated, or withheld.
A person commits the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she knowingly
and maliciously causes death or physical harm to an animal by rendering a part
of such animal's body useless or by seriously disfiguring such animal. A person
convicted of the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals shall be punished by
imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed
$15,000.00, or both, provided that any person who is convicted of a second or
subsequent violation of this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment for
not less than one nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed the amount provided
by Code Section 17-10-8, or both.
(d) Before sentencing a defendant for
any conviction under this Code section, the sentencing judge may require psychological
evaluation of the offender and shall consider the entire criminal record of the
(e) The provisions of this Code section shall not be construed
as prohibiting conduct which is otherwise permitted under the laws of this state
or of the United States, including, but not limited to, agricultural, animal husbandry,
butchering, food processing, marketing, scientific, research, medical, zoological,
exhibition, competitive, hunting, trapping, fishing, wildlife management, or pest
control practices or the authorized practice of veterinary medicine nor to limit
in any way the authority or duty of the Department of Agriculture, Department
of Natural Resources, any county board of health, any law enforcement officer,
dog, animal, or rabies control officer, humane society, veterinarian, or private
landowner protecting his or her property.
(f)(1) Nothing in this Code section
shall be construed as prohibiting a person from:
- (A) Defending his
or her person or property, or the person or property of another, from injury or
damage being caused by an animal; or
- (B) Injuring or killing
an animal reasonably believed to constitute a threat for injury or damage to any
property, livestock, or poultry.
(2) The method used to injure or kill such animal shall be designed
to be as humane as is possible under the circumstances. A person
who humanely injures or kills an animal under the circumstances
indicated in this subsection shall incur no civil or criminal liability
for such injury or death.
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