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California Man Faces Possible Life Sentence for Killing Chihuahua Puppy

May 20th, 2011 6 comments

California Man Could Spend Life in Prison for Killing Puppy

Animal welfare activists often wish that people who engage in barbaric acts of animal cruelty would be punished in a way that fits the crime, including mandatory prison terms for the worst offenses.

CBS News reports that Bud Wally Ruiz of Gilroy, California, is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison for an act of animal cruelty.

During an argument with his wife on Thursday, Ruiz picked up her 6-week-old Chihuahua puppy and slammed it into a wall, killing it.  Ruiz has been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty.

Life in Prison for Killing a Dog?

The reason Ruiz faces a potential term of life in prison for killing the dog has less to do with California’s animal cruelty laws than it does with the state’s “three-strikes” sentencing law.  By referendum, in 1994, California’s voters overwhelmingly approved a recidivist sentencing law in which an offender with two prior felony convictions could face 25 years up to life in prison for a third felony conviction. 

In a pair of decisions in 2003, the United States Supreme Court upheld California’s “three-strikes” law, ruling that the law does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Ruiz has four prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.

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Animal Cruelty Charges May Arise From Failing to Provide Appropriate Veterinary Treatment for a Sick Animal

March 26th, 2010 2 comments

Could One Face Criminal Animal Cruelty Charges for Denying Medical Treatment to a Sick Dog?

Animal Cruelty Charges Arise from Refusing to Obtain Veteriary Care

In a recent case, a man in Tampa, Florida was arrested and charged with animal cruelty for allowing his two dogs to suffer life-threatening injury and disease and then refusing to obtain appropriate medical treatment for them. 

One of the dogs was struck by a car and injured, but the man failed to seek veterinary care for its wounds even after being advised by a doctor that the dog needed treatment.  The other dog was suffering from a potentially fatal uterine disease; however, the man refused to get care and treatment for her, resulting in the dog growing emaciated. 

The dogs were reported as being abandoned.  Following an investigation, the man, Peyman Boroujeni, was charged with two counts of third-degree cruelty to animals under Florida law.

Florida’s Felony Animal Cruelty Law

The crime with which Boroujeni was charged is third-degree felony cruelty to animals under section 828.12(2), Florida Statutues.  The statute provides:

A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree.

Florida courts have emphasized that felony animal cruelty requires an intent to commit the act that results in the cruel death or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.  The crime does not require an intent to cause the death or suffering, only the intent to commit the act that results in the death or unnecessary suffering of the animal. 

Accordingly, in order to convict a defendant of third-degree cruelty to animals in Florida, it is not necessary to prove that the man intended for the dogs to suffer.  The prosecution must merely prove that he intended to do the act (refusing to get medical treatment) that resulted in their unnecessary suffering.

Mere negligent behavior that results in the death or unnecessary suffering of an animal amounts to a first degree misdemeanor under section 828.12(1), Florida Statutes.

Third-degree cruelty to animals is punishable in Florida by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Disclaimer:  This article is in no way intended as legal advice.  For help with specific legal issues surrounding Florida’s animal cruelty laws, or the laws in your jurisdiction, please contact an attorney in your local area.

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Categories: Animal Cruelty Law