Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 574.100 criminalizes animal cruelty, defined as the infliction of physical pain, suffering, or death on an animal, generally a tame one, beyond the necessity for standard discipline. Even though the type of violation and the case facts can vary, persons accused of this offense can be subject to severe penalties upon conviction, including possible time in prison.
Since an animal cruelty charge can jeopardize your future and freedom, partnering with a skilled lawyer is essential to defending your rights. At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we use our in-depth knowledge and experience to defend clients accused of various domestic violence crimes in Las Vegas, including animal cruelty.
We can provide you with the guidance and support necessary to navigate the criminal process ahead and aggressive legal representation to obtain the best possible outcome. Contact us for a consultation, to share your case details, and to learn more about our defense strategy.
What Constitutes The Nevada Animal Cruelty Crime?
The Nevada crime of animal cruelty encompasses a wide array of criminalized conduct or acts involving animals or pets, from mistreatment and neglect to intentional and willful abuse. Remember, these acts do not generally apply to unintentional animal deaths or injuries from the usual operation of livestock shows, rodeos, or ranching. They include:
Abandoning, injuring, torturing, or overdriving animals — Nevada statute criminalizes endangering, torturing, or neglecting an animal.
Animal abuse — torturing or unjustifiably maiming, killing, or mutilating an animal tamed for pleasure or companionship, whether the animal belongs to you or someone else—is illegal. Animal abuse also entails depriving animals of drink or food, abandoning an animal, or letting an animal be abused. You need not have physically inflicted the abuse to face prosecution for animal cruelty.
Dog enclosures and restraints — it is an offense to restrain an animal for over ten hours in 24 hours or for any period once a heat advisory is out. If the temperature is 105 degrees or higher, your pet must have a cooling system such as misters, fans, or air conditioning.
Additionally, it is unlawful to restrain an animal by using a choke collar, pinch, prong, or matching restraint, or a pulley, trolley, tie, chain, tether system, or any other instrument that:
- Is below 12 feet long,.
- Does not let the animal move in at least a 12 ft radius, or.
- Enables the animal to stretch out to a fence, wall, or anything else that might cause it to be entangled, injured, or pass away by strangulation once it jumps the fence, wall, or object.
The law further dictates that an outdoor enclosure (like a pen) used to keep a dog must suit the animal's breed and size. If it is so small that it does not adhere to the restraint requirements above, the dog can be tamed unrestrained in the outdoor enclosure.
Penalties for Animal Cruelty
Animal cruelty consequences vary based on whether the crime is charged as a felony or misdemeanor and the circumstances and facts surrounding the case, such as the kind of animal in question and the accused person's criminal past involving similar violations.
A first offense of animal cruelty is generally a misdemeanor. A conviction carries a jail term ranging from two days to six months, court-approved community work, and a maximum fine of $1,000.
A second-time offense is also considered a misdemeanor, but the penalties are enhanced to between ten days and six months of jail time, more community service hours, and restitution. It is also a misdemeanor offense to abandon an animal, apart from releasing feral cats after vaccination or neutering.
A repeat offense within seven years is a Category C felony. In this case, a conviction carries consequences that include a maximum fine of $10,000, between one and five years of a prison sentence, and restitution.
When an animal cruelty violation involves dogs, cats, or other pets or is committed deliberately or with the intent to terrorize or intimidate others, the D.A. may opt to prosecute the violation as a felony. For example, an act meant to intimidate or threaten another person is considered a Category C felony, carrying between one and five years of prison time and a maximum fine of $10,000. An instance of a violation intended to intimidate or terrorize is if two people in a romantic relationship end things between them, and one kills the other's dog for revenge.
Animal cruelty perpetrated willfully and maliciously is deemed a Category D felony punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and between one and four years in state prison. An example of a violation committed maliciously is if you kill your neighbor's dog because it is constantly barking. In this case, it means that you meant to kill the dog, and it was no accident.
Defendants found guilty of animal abuse might also be forbidden from keeping animals for a maximum of four years.
Other Acts Criminalized Acts Considered Animal Cruelty
Nevada also criminalizes the following acts under its animal cruelty law:
Selling a Diseased Animal
Selling an animal infected with particular contagious illnesses that might affect other animals or humans is an offense in Nevada. Additionally, it is an offense to refuse to kill an animal infected with a contagious disease. These acts are misdemeanor violations. The consequences include a maximum of six months in county jail and a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Abandoning a Disabled Animal
If you are the owner, custodian, or possessor of a diseased, disabled, infirm, or maimed animal, it is criminal to:
- Abandon it.
- Leave it to die in a public place, road, or street.
- Let it lie in a public place, road, or street for over three hours after being notified that the animal has been lying there disabled.
This crime is considered a misdemeanor punishable by six months in custody and a fine not exceeding $1,000. You may also have to pay any costs the law enforcement officers incur to care for the animal.
Mistreating Show Dogs
It is criminal to unjustifiably and willfully kill, injure, or abuse a show dog or maliciously tamper with or interfere with a show dog.
Maliciously interfering with or tampering with a show dog is a Category D felony punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000 and between one and four years in state prison.
Willfully injuring or abusing a show dog is also a Category D felony punishable by between one and four years in state prison and a fine not exceeding $5,000. You may be subject to an additional fine of $10,000 based on the circumstances.
Willfully killing a show dog is considered a Category C felony punishable by one to five years of prison time and a fine of not more than $10,000.
Mistreating Police Animals
It is an offense to willfully and maliciously mistreat police animals. Mistreatment includes:
- Killing, disabling, poisoning, injuring, mutilating, or torturing a trained police animal.
- Striking, beating, teasing, tormenting, taunting, or administering a desensitizing chemical, drug, or substance to a trained police animal.
- Interfering with a trained police animal or its handler when they are doing police duties.
It is deemed a Category D felony to mistreat a trained police animal without killing or completely disabling it. The consequences of a conviction include up to four years in state prison and a fine not exceeding $5,000. If the violation involved poisoning, injuring, mutilating, or torturing the animal, you will face an additional court fine of $10,000.
If the mistreatment resulted in death or total disability, the crime is considered a category C felony. The penalties of a conviction include between one and five years of prison time, a fine not exceeding $10,000, and restitution.
Animal Fights (Cock-Fighting and Dog-Fighting Included)
It is unlawful to sell, train, or keep a fighting animal, run an animal fight, or be a spectator at an animal fight. All animal fight violations are felonies, except watching an animal fight.
Felony convictions are punishable by a fine ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 and between one and four or five years in state prison.
Watching a fight between animals is considered a gross misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for the second and subsequent offenses. Nevada also criminalizes owning or operating an animal fight venue for profit.
It is an offense to unjustifiably give a noxious drug to domestic cattle, a mule, or a horse. Additionally, it is criminal to expose an animal to noxious medications intending to be taken by the animal. Note that you do not need to be the one who does the poisoning to be guilty. Additionally, the animal need not belong to you to be convicted.
Poisoning a domestic cattle, mule, or horse is considered a Category C felony. The penalties include one to five years in state prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, and restitution.
Poisoning an animal apart from a horse, domestic cattle, or mule is a gross misdemeanor. If convicted, you will face up to one year in jail, a fine not exceeding $2,000, and restitution.
Legal Defenses Against Animal Cruelty Charges
When you hire a skilled criminal defense attorney, they will investigate your case and, depending on the evidence, develop defense strategies that may have your charges dismissed. Common legal defenses your lawyer may present to help you beat the prosecution’s charges of animal cruelty include the following:
- Mistaken identification—a witness may have pointed at you as the party that committed the crime when it was not you.
- Illegal search and seizure—if law enforcement officers visited your business or home when no offense was underway and searched your residence or business with no warrant, they have committed an unlawful search or seizure. In that case, the judge should exclude any evidence obtained during the illegal search or seizure from the case.
- Lack of criminal intention—if, for example, you ran over an animal after it ran into the road and could not pull over, you did not have criminal intention. You never intended to hurt the animal, yet it did happen as the animal darted out in the street, and you could stop.
- You acted in self-defense—if the animal or its owner was attacking you, or you were attacked by the animal while also being attacked by the owner, and you killed or hurt the animal while defending yourself, the judge should dismiss your charges.
Related Crimes to Animal Cruelty
Apart from animal cruelty, Nevada has other criminal statutes involving animals. That means the prosecution can charge you with these offenses alongside or instead of animal cruelty based on the facts surrounding the case.
Bestiality and dog racing are some of the crimes related to animal cruelty. Bestiality, criminalized under NRS 201.455, happens when someone deliberately performs sexual acts on an animal, assists someone else in performing those acts, or photographs those acts.
Bestiality is generally a gross misdemeanor if the animal does not die or sustain serious injuries. If you are convicted, the consequences include up to a year in jail and two thousand dollars in fines. Otherwise, the crime is considered a Category D felony punishable by up to four years in state prison and a fine not exceeding $5,000. Additionally, the judge will require you to surrender your pets, and you might have to pay for restitution, animal care, and counseling. You may also be required to register as a sex offender.
Dog racing is not deemed animal cruelty unless it happens under abusive circumstances. Although it is considered a misdemeanor offense to run a dog racing ring for financial gain or gamble on dog racing.
Find an Experienced Las Vegas Domestic Violence Lawyer Near Me
If accused of animal cruelty, do not take the accusations lightly. Since much is at stake when facing these charges, you want to turn to a skilled domestic violence attorney for representation and legal advice.
At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we boast a reputation for providing aggressive legal representation for persons charged with animal cruelty or any other domestic violence offense in Las Vegas, and we can do the same for you.
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case before developing a compelling defense to obtain the best possible outcome. Call us today at 702-380-4278 for a free consultation and to share your case details.