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Felony Animal Cruelty: Hurting or Killing an Animal

June 2, 2015 Criminal Law and Procedure

This article addresses the law relating to hurting an animal in some way under MCL 750.50b. There is also another law related to neglecting and abusing an animal in one’s own care. You can read the blog post on that animal cruelty law here.

An animal is defined as a vertebrate other than a human being.

A person may not do one of the following;

  1. Knowingly kill, torture, mutilate, maim, or disfigure an animal.
  2. Commit a reckless act knowing or having reason to know that the act will cause an animal to be killed, tortured, mutilated, maimed, or disfigured.
  3. Knowingly poison or knowingly expose an animal to a poisonous substance, with the intent that the animal consume the substance.

A violation of this law is a felony, punishable by up to;

  • 4 years in prison
  • $5,000.00 for 1 animal, and an additional $2,500.00 for each additional animal, up to $20,000.00
  • 500 hours of community service

Special Terms of Probation and Punishment

The defendant may be ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, as well as the costs of care, housing, and veterinary medical care for the impacted animal.

If the court does not order the defendant to pay full costs, it must explain on the record why it chose to have the defendant pay only partial costs or no costs.

Probation can include psychiatric or psychological assessment, screening, and treatment at defendant’s expense.

The court may order the defendant to not own or possess an animal for any period of time, including lifetime relinquishment of the right to possess animals.

A person who possesses an animal in violation of this court order may be subject to probation revocation or civil and criminal contempt. Contempt of court under this law is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. MCL 750.50b

What This Law Does Not Apply To

This animal cruelty law does not apply to licensed or regulated fishing, hunting, zoos, scientific research, and pest or rodent control.

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