Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
When is animal cruelty treated as “aggravated” in Colorado?
In Colorado, animal cruelty is treated as “aggravated” when you either
knowingly torture an animal, or
needlessly mutilate or kill an animal.
Forgetting to feed an animal for one day – or kicking an animal out of aggravation once – would qualify as regular animal cruelty, not aggravated.1
What are examples of aggravated animal cruelty?
Scenarios that would qualify as aggravated animal cruelty in Colorado include:
purposely starving a house pet
strangling a dog
maiming a cat with a knife
repeatedly punching or kicking a rabbit
dropping a hamster out of the window
putting a kitten in a pen with a pit bull that attacks it
stabbing a horse
feeding livestock hay laced with broken glass and nails
shooting a puppy
stoning a gerbil to death
suffocating a bird
In short, any knowing act of torture or mutilation is aggravated animal cruelty.
What are the penalties for aggravated animal cruelty?
Aggravated animal cruelty is a Colorado felony carrying $1,000 to $100,000 in fines and/or a Colorado State Prison term. The length of the prison sentence depends on whether you have prior aggravated animal cruelty convictions.
A first-time offense is a class 6 felony, carrying a potential prison term of 1 to 1 ½ years (with 1 year of mandatory parole). Meanwhile, a a second or successive offense is a class 5 felony, with a potential prison term of 1 to 3 years in prison (with 2 years of mandatory parole).
If you are convicted of aggravated animal cruelty in Colorado, you are required to complete anger management treatment (or similar treatment programs). In addition, you are barred by court order from having pets for three to five years.
Note that if the animal was a certified police working dog or service animal, you will also be ordered to pay restitution for:
Non-aggravated animal cruelty
Non-aggravated animal cruelty is a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense. The penalties include up to 364 days in jail and/or $500 to $1,000 in fines, and the judge has discretion to order anger management treatment.
A subsequent offense of non-aggravated animal cruelty is prosecuted the same as a first-offense of aggravated animal cruelty, except the court may impose probation instead of prison. However, probation would need to include at least 90 days in jail or home detention.2
A first-offense of aggravated animal cruelty under CRS 18-9-202 is a class 6 felony.
How can the charges be fought?
Five potential defenses that could get an aggravated animal abuse charge dismissed in Colorado include:
The animal attacked, and you acted in reasonable self-defense or defense of others;
The incident was an accident, and you did not knowingly hurt the animal;
You were falsely accused by someone else, or you were a victim of mistaken identity;
The animal hurt themself by accident, and you had nothing to do with it;
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.