Most criminal statutes in New Jersey are designed with multiple goals in mind, one of which is to prevent overcrowding of state prisons.
To this end, the majority of crimes of the fourth and third degree are prosecuted with a presumption of non-incarceration on the first offense, meaning that in most cases, no jail time will be served. But this isn’t true for all such crimes.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3.1, Animal Owned, Used By Law Enforcement Agency, Search And Rescue Dog, Harming, Threatening, Interference With Officer, you can face significantly higher penalties than many such statutes.
Killing a dog, horse, or other animal owned by the police, or a search and rescue dog, will result in charges of the third degree, but rather than face a presumption of non-incarceration, you’ll face a minimum of five years in prison during which you’ll be ineligible for parole. You’ll also be fined $15,000.
Maiming an animal as described above, or threatening to maim or kill one of them, is prosecuted as a crime of the fourth degree, with an 18 month sentence possible if convicted, and a fine of $10,000.
The statute doesn’t require jail time for this conduct, but you can bet that a judge won’t take such charges lightly.
Finally, interfering with law enforcement officers who are using an animal in the performance of their duties is a disorderly persons offense, with a six month sentence if convicted.
The statute allows for community service to be served for some or all of the sentence. You’ll also be fined $1,000 and have to pay restitution.
Animals who serve alongside law enforcement and search and rescue teams provide a public good that New Jersey has chosen to protect strongly.
Conviction of killing, maiming, threatening, or interfering with such animals can result in significant penalties to you, both in time served and fines paid.
Fight back against criminal charges related to law enforcement and search and rescue animals.
Call Matthew Reisig today at 732-625-9661 for a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.