A local woman in Gwinnett County is facing eleven felony charges after police searched her home and found over ten dead animals.
Valarie Kahn allegedly left nine cats and two dogs in her previous home that fell into foreclosure. When a man purchased the home at auction he discovered all of the animals she left behind which were deceased.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I cover a range of crimes in my posts. In today's post, I will outline the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals. Most people are unaware of just how seriously the State of Georgia takes animal cruelty.
Aggravated Cruelty to Animals in Georgia
Cruelty to animals in Georgia is defined in O.C.G.A. §16-12-4. This statute also defines the elevated criminal offense of aggravated cruelty to animals. First, let's start with the base crime of animal cruelty.
A person will be 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.
A person convicted of cruelty to animals will be guilty of a misdemeanor. However, a second conviction of cruelty to animals will result in a conviction of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. The penalty for a misdemeanor in Georgia is up to one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000.
Aggravated cruelty to animals in Georgia is defined as:
A person commits aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she:
- Maliciously causes the death of an animal;
- Maliciously 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;
- Maliciously tortures an animal by the infliction of or subjection to severe or prolonged physical pain;
- Maliciously 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.
A person convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals shall be guilty of a felony with a felony of prison between one and five years, a fine of no more than $15,000, or both. A second or subsequent conviction of aggravated cruelty to animals will result in a lengthened prison term between one and ten years and a fine of up to $100,000, or both.
Again - just because someone has been accused of crime or arrested for an offense does not mean that he or she is guilty of that offense. If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact our offices today.
A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney can determine what the best options are for you and your case.