Michigan’s Animal Cruelty Laws: What You Need To Know

Gavel depicting Michigan's Animal Cruelty Laws

The state of Michigan has strict laws against animal cruelty. If convicted, violators could face stiff fines and jail time depending on the offense.

Michigan Laws Against Animal Cruelty

In March 2019, Michigan’s existing laws about animal cruelty were amended. The new laws included increasing the maximum penalty for killing or torturing an animal from four years to 10-year prison sentence.

In addition, the new laws make it possible for judges to sentence those guilty of harming or killing a pet in revenge on another person a felony punishable by ten years in prison.

Laws already in effect that make it illegal to do harm to any animal as defined in the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.50 include:

  • Torture
  • Mutilate
  • Maim
  • Kill
  • Beat
  • Cruelly overwork
  • Tether with a rope or chain that’s too short
  • Allow to suffer neglect, torture or pain through negligence
  • Abandon
  • Not provide enough food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, veterinary care
  • Participating in, planning, or being present at any animal fight
  • Intentionally poison any animal, with a few exceptions outside city limits
  • Leave poison where someone else’s pet may get to it

Animal Cruelty Linked To Other Crimes

According to the Detroit News, Michigan prosecutors agree with the harsher sentencing laws for people who abuse and kill animals.

Why such an increase in the maximum penalties?

Investigators have found that in cases of animal abuse, there are often other crimes involved like possession of child pornography, domestic violence, and drug dealing.

Prosecutors believe that if offenders do not face harsher punishments for animal cruelty and are allowed back out into society, they remain a danger to society.

Penalties for Animal Abuse in Michigan

Depending on the level of cruelty involved, animal abuse may currently be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Factors such as the number of animals involved and the number of previous convictions will be considered.

If you are found guilty of neglect of a pet, you may have that animal removed from your care permanently as well as facing fines and possible jail time.

A person who violates subsection 2 of the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.50 is guilty of a crime and faces the following penalties. In addition, each punishment may include an order to pay prosecution costs.

Violation involving 1 animal*

Misdemeanor punishable by 1 or more of the following:

  • Imprisonment up to 93 days.
  • A fine of up to $1,000.00.
  • Up to 200 hours of community service.

Violation involving 2 or 3 animals or the death of any animal*

Misdemeanor punishable by 1 or more of the following and may be ordered to pay the costs of prosecution:

  • Imprisonment up to 1 year.
  • A fine up to $2,000.00.
  • Up to 300 hours of community service.

Violation involving 4 or more animals

However, fewer than 10 animals or the person had 1 prior conviction under subsection (2) of the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.50.

Felony punishable by 1 or more of the following:

  • Imprisonment up to 2 years.
  • A fine up to $2,000.00.
  • Up to 300 hours of community service.

Violation involving 10 or more animals

However, fewer than 25 animals or the person had 2 prior convictions for violating subsection (2) of the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.50.

Felony punishable by 1 or more of the following:

  • Imprisonment up to 4 years.
  • A fine up to $5,000.00.
  • Up to 500 hours of community service.

Violation involving 25 or more animals

* or the person has had 3 or more prior convictions for violating subsection (2) of the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.50.

Felony punishable by 1 or more of the following:

  • Imprisonment up to 7 years.
  • A fine up to $10,000.00.
  • Up to 500 hours of community service.

The laws governing animal cruelty do not apply to:

  • Scientific research
  • Legal hunting
  • Trapping
  • Fishing or wildlife control,
  • Farming
  • Rodent control

Takeaway

Although the laws regarding animal cruelty may punish offenders more severely, there are plenty of cases where a bystander may file a report against you even if you don’t believe you were negligent.

If you are being investigated for animal cruelty in Michigan, you need an experienced criminal attorney to fight for your rights.

Call The David J. Kramer Law Firm, PLLC for help today.

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