Harming a Law Enforcement Animal

Have You Been Charged with Harming a Law Enforcement Animal?

Law enforcement officers and their animals are heavily protected under Georgia law. Their job is to serve and protect the citizens of Georgia and officers regularly utilize animals to assist them in their jobs. Harming a law enforcement animal can be charged in four different degrees and can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. However, no matter which degree you have been charged with, our Georgia Harming a Law Enforcement Animal Lawyers can help. Contact us now and speak with our top-rated criminal defense attorneys.

What Constitutes a Law Enforcement Animal?

Under O.C.G.A. §16-11-107(a)(3.2), a law enforcement animal includes police dogs, police horses, or any other animal trained to support a peace officer, fire department, or a state fire marshal in performance of law enforcement duties.

The statute includes accelerant detection dogs, bomb detection dogs, firearms detection dogs, narcotic detection dogs, patrol dogs, police dogs, police horses, search and rescue dogs, and tracking dogs.

Harming a Law Enforcement Animal in the First Degree

A person commits the offense of harming a law enforcement animal in the first degree when he or she knowingly and intentionally causes the death of a law enforcement animal while such law enforcement animal is in performance of its duties or because of such law enforcement animal's performance of its duties.

A person convicted of harming a law enforcement animal in the first degree will be guilty of a felony. The penalty will be a prison term between 18 months and five years, a maximum fine of $50,000.00, or both.

Harming a Law Enforcement Animal in the Second Degree in Georgia

A person commits the offense of harming a law enforcement animal in the second degree when he or she knowingly and intentionally shoots a law enforcement animal with a firearm or causes debilitating physical injury to a law enforcement animal while such law enforcement animal is in performance of its duties or because of such law enforcement animal's performance of its duties.

Harming a law enforcement animal in the second degree will be treated as a felony. The punishment will include a prison term between one and five years, a fine not to exceed $25,000, or both.

Harming a Law Enforcement Animal in the Third Degree in Georgia

A person commits the offense of harming a law enforcement animal in the third degree when he or she knowingly and intentionally and with a deadly weapon causes, or with any object, device, instrument, or body part which, when used offensively against such law enforcement animal, is likely to or actually does cause, serious physical injury to such law enforcement animal while such law enforcement animal is in performance of its duties or because of such law enforcement animal's performance of its duties. 

Harming a law enforcement animal in the third degree is treated as a high and aggravated misdemeanor. The punishment will include a prison term between six and twelve months, a fine up to $5,000, or both.

Harming a Law Enforcement Animal in the Fourth Degree in Georgia

A person commits the offense of harming a law enforcement animal in the fourth degree when he or she knowingly and intentionally causes physical harm to such law enforcement animal while such law enforcement animal is in performance of its duties or because of such law enforcement animal's performance of its duties.

If convicted of harming a law enforcement animal in the fourth degree, the accused will be charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor convictions in Georgia come with a penalty of a fine up to $1,000, a jail term up to one year, or both.

Georgia Defenses to Harming a Law Enforcement Animal

The animal attacked despite commands from handler: If you were attacked by a law enforcement animal without the handler giving out the command, then you are justified in harming the animal.

You were unaware it was a law enforcement animal: Intent is a necessary element under the statute. Therefore, if you did not intend to harm the animal or did not know it was a law enforcement animal, that will be a defense. However, it is best to utilize one of our Georgia Harming a Law Enforcement Animal Attorneys in this situation. It can be difficult to prove that you were unaware it was a law enforcement animal or that you lacked intent to harm it.

No firearm or object was used: There are significant differences between each degree of harming a law enforcement animal. If you were charged with allegedly beating a law enforcement animal with an object or using a firearm against the animal but that was a mistake, you could be charged with a lesser degree.

Contact Us

Harming a law enforcement animal can be a serious offense in Georgia. The consequences will be far-reaching and will have a significant impact on your future. Our criminal defense attorneys in Georgia have more than 50 combined years of experience. Contact us now and hear about the options in your case.

Contact Us Today for Immediate Help

The time is now to start preparing your defense! Many times people lose the opportunity to put on their best defense because they wait. The importance of hiring a lawyer from the very beginning cannot be overstated! Waiting allows for witnesses to leave the area, evidence to be lost, and memories to fade. All of these have a direct effect on the successful on your case. The time to begin your case and start prepping your defense is now! Contact us today to put on your best Georgia criminal defense!

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