My name is Purav Bhatt and I am a criminal defense attorney serving cook, dupage and lake counties. My law practice focuses entirely on criminal defense and specializes in felony and misdemeanor crimes including drug possession, drug delivery, assault and battery, retail theft/shoplifting, DUI and animal crimes.
Today I am writing to explain what you should know if you are charged with any animal crimes.
As a former Cook County prosecutor, I prosecuted dozens of cases under the Humane Care for Animals Act to protect dogs, cats and other pets. Because of the sensitive nature of these cases, many different parties are involved in the prosecution of defendants charged under these statutes. Along with the State’s Attorney, numerous groups are involved in the prosecution of animal crimes. These groups include: the Chicago Police (they have a unit dedicated to searching out animal crimes offenders), D.A.W.G. (a community group that tracks and follows animal cruelty cases), and the Cook County Animal Care and Control Unit.
Animal Cruelty crimes fall under the Humane Care for Animals Act (510 ILCS 70/1-18. The most common crimes charged under these statutes are:
1. Violation of Owners Duties – failure to provide basic necessities for animal like food, water, shelter, veterinary care, etc.
2. Cruel Treatment – includes anyone who beats, cruelly treats, torments, starves, overworks or otherwise abuses any animal.
While other charges exist, these 2 are the most commonly charged in Illinois.
It is important for any defendant to be knowledgeable of the procedure that must be followed by the prosecution. Below I’ve provided some information that the defendant should be aware of when being charged with animal crimes:
1. The State’s Attorney must file a petition for the defendant/owner to pay security for the animals when they are in State care. This comes out to roughly $9/per day/per animal.
a. Once the petition is filed with the court by the State’s Attorney a hearing must be scheduled within 5 business days and the State must serve a copy of the petition to the defendant and to Animal Care and Control. A petition can be filed at anytime during the duration of the case. If security is required by the Court, the petition must be filed every 30 days to require the defendant to pay.
2. The State must file a forfeiture petition within 14 days of the seizure of the animals.
a. Oftentimes, the State will file a petition ordering the defendant to forfeit the animals over to State care as a result of the seizure. The State’s Attorney’s only opportunity to file the forfeiture petition in a timely matter occurs at the defendant’s bond hearing but they often fail to do so. If this is the case, usually the State’s Attorney in the prosecuting courtroom will try to file the petition for forfeiture. To the unknowing defendant, this is usually outside the 14 day statutory window to file this petition.
b. Additionally, forfeiture is only allowed for certain charges under the Humane Care for Animals Act but police officers will seize and attempt to cause forfeiture for all animal crimes. Many defendants do not know whether forfeiture is appropriate or not for their crimes and fail to object.
If you are charged under the Humane Care for Animals Act you need to be aware of your rights. You have defenses all along the legal process.
To see more about these crimes visit http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/your-rights-when-arrested-for-animal-cruelty-crimes or contact Purav Bhatt at 773-791-9682.
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