Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Georgia Pet Groomer Faces Cruelty to Animal Charges

Posted by Richard Lawson | Apr 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

Crimes involving animals in Georgia are taken very seriously. These crimes also come with a lot of stigma and can be extremely overwhelming when accused. Animals crimes have recently made it into the news as a story broke this past week about a pet groomer in Gainesville.

Michelle Root has been charged with multiple counts of aggravated cruelty to animals in Georgia. According to reports, there are several different incidents in which Root allegedly caused physical harm to the dogs she was in charge of grooming. Her grooming business is no longer running.

Cumming Police Deputy Chief, Aletha Barrett, said, “Something like this is hard to prove because you have to prove the animal wasn't injured before it arrived at the facility.”

Just like any other crime, it needs to be noted that not everyone who is accused of crime is guilty of that crime. Just because Root has been accused doesn't mean that she is guilty - our standard is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In order to understand what Root is being accused of we first need to look at cruelty to animals.

What constitutes cruelty to animals in Georgia?

Georgia law defines cruelty to animals in Georgia under O.C.G.A. §16-12-4 as:

A person is guilty of cruelty to animals when they cause physical pain, suffering, or death to any animal by any unjustifiable act or omission; or intentionally exercise custody, control, possession, or ownership of an animal and fail to provide to such animal adequate food, water, sanitary conditions, or ventilation that is consistent with what a reasonable person of ordinary knowledge would believe is the normal requirement and feeding habit for such animal's size, species, breed, age, and physical condition.

If convicted of cruelty to animals, a person will be guilty of a misdemeanor, and the penalty for a misdemeanor in Georgia is up to one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000.

What constitutes aggravated cruelty to animals in Georgia?

Georgia law defines aggravated cruelty to animals in Georgia under O.C.G.A. §16-12-4(c) as:

A person commits aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she maliciously:

  • causes the death of an animal;
  • causes physical harm to an animal by depriving it of a member of its body, by rendering a part of such animal's body useless, or by seriously disfiguring such animal's body or a member thereof;
  • tortures an animal by the infliction of or subjection to severe or prolonged physical pain;
  • administers poison to an animal, or exposes an animal to any poisonous substance, with the intent that the substance be taken or swallowed by the animal; 
  • ... or intentionally exercise custody, control, possession, or ownership of an animal and fail to provide to such animal adequate food, water, sanitary conditions, or ventilation that is consistent with what a reasonable person of ordinary knowledge would believe is the normal requirement and feeding habit for such animal's size, species, breed, age, and physical condition to the extent that the death of such animal results or a member of its body is rendered useless or is seriously disfigured.

If convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals, a person will be guilty of a felony, and the penalty can include one to five years in prison, a fine up to $15,000, or both.

What are defenses to cruelty to animals in Georgia?

There are many Georgia Criminal Defenses available to cases. Some specific to cruelty to animals include:

  • Defense of Others 
  • Defense of Property
  • Defense of Livestock 
  • Defense of Pet Animal

If you or a loved one has been accused and charged with cruelty to animals in Georgia, contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard Lawson has devoted his entire career to DUI Defense. He exclusively handles DUI Cases. As a former DUI Prosecutor he knows both sides of your case. Put his experience to work for you. You only have 30 days to protect your right to drive. Call now for immediate attention. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

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