The Relevance of the Link for Prosecutors
Many animal cruelty cases may also include elements of additional crimes towards humans and the prosecutor’s role becomes pivotal in terms of how animal cruelty cases are investigated, charged and disposed. When prosecutors approach animal cruelty cases from a “Link informed” perspective public safety can be enhanced. In instances where domestic violence occurs and convictions are not possible, an animal cruelty conviction allows for court ordered evaluation and treatment to address issues of violence. When an animal cruelty offender’s actions include identified “dangerousness factors” there is an increased likelihood of public safety risk. Knowledge and awareness of the Link better equips prosecutors to address public safety issues on a level commensurate with the levels of harm and risk present.
- What are the short-term goals? Protecting everyone (human and animal) is paramount. Often short-term protection can be achieved with artful drafting of the term(s) of the Mandatory Protection Orders .
- If the animal abuse is occurring with a multitude of other crimes, consider prosecuting all charges together to give the court the full picture. Prosecutors may be able to charge other types of crime up until the day of trial.
- When charging animal abuse, there can a separate charge for each animal that was involved in the case.
- Form a relationship with a local veterinarian. They are mandated reporters of animal abuse, and they can participate in trials as an expert witness.
- If pictures of the animal victim are needed as evidence, they should be collected right away. Once the animal is receiving care, their appearance may change drastically.
- When deciding how to charge the case, consider the dangerousness factors and the animal cruelty risk levels.
- During sentencing, recommend an Animal Cruelty Specific Court Ordered Evaluation.
- What is the long term goal? Conviction, but is the Defendant a good probation candidate who would benefit from treatment versus jail.
- Always consider restrictions on future animal ownership for a lengthy period of time.
The Prosecutor’s Roles in the Link
The primary role is to prosecute the case, but during the process of the case the prosecutor may need to act in the following roles:
1. Investigator Prosecutors often receive cases after the investigations are complete, but they may need to do additional investigation using their own resources. Additional investigation can lead to the discovery of other types of family violence, and can also identify the underlying causes of the violence. During a case, the prosecutor may need to help with search warrants, evidence collection, seizures, holding and release of animal victims, surrender of animals, and cost of care of animal victims. A relationship between the investigators and the prosecutors should be established early.
2. Liaison During a case, the prosecutor may need to ask as the liaison between all the different professionals, including law enforcement, animal law enforcement, code enforcement, child protective services, adult protective services, veterinarians and animal shelters. In order for there to be a successful case, there needs to be communication between everyone involved in the case.
3. Educator and Public Safety Advocate Prosecutors may need to educate the other professionals and the community about the relationship between different forms of violence and animal abuse. Prosecutors may also need to stress the importance of investigating these cases to various agencies and law enforcement personnel that do not normally deal with animals.