New Law Makes Leaving Animals in the Cold a Felony | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

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New Law Makes Leaving Animals in the Cold a Felony

Libre’s Law passed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on June 29, 2017 at the State Capitol, and it imposes more severe penalties on those convicted of certain types of animal cruelty. Libre’s Law is named after an abused puppy found in Lancaster County in 2016. If you are charged with violating one or more various aspects of this law, you may find yourself in significant legal trouble.

If you have been accused of animal cruelty, or if you’re concerned about possible charges, you are advised to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 to set up a free case review.

Libre’s Law

As it made its way through the legislative process Libre’s Law faced significant challenges in Pennsylvania’s Legislature. However, on June 29th as it was signed into law by Governor Wolf, the Bill also included Libre’s paw print on the document. It includes new regulations on tethering and enhanced penalties for convictions of animal cruelty. The law took effect August 28, 2017.

Before the measure was signed into law, State Representative Todd Stephens of Montgomery County said, “in Pennsylvania, torturing or seriously abusing an animal in most instances was punishable only by the equivalent of a traffic ticket. That was just wrong, so we set out to change that.”

If you find yourself facing the enhanced charges present under Libre’s Law, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your options and build the most effective defense possible on your behalf.

Several notable features of the new law include:

  • Dog owners are now forbidden from leaving their dogs outside on a lead for more than nine hours in any 24-hour period
  • Dogs can’t be tethered for more than 30 minutes when the temperature outside is greater than 90 degrees or less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The tether must be less than 10 feet, or three times the length of the dog – whichever is longer
  • When tethered, dogs must have access to water and shade
  • Law enforcement has the authority to file felony charges for first-time animal cruelty. Penalties vary based on the severity of the conduct and the number of prior offenses. Enhanced penalties for animal cruelty convictions include the possibility of up to seven years in prison, and $15,000 in fines
  • In cases where the animal suffers serious bodily injury or death, aggravated cruelty may be charged
  • Veterinarians and Humane Society police officers are given civil immunity, removing the fear of a lawsuit for reporting animal cruelty even if they make a mistake

In addition, Libre’s Law establishes a rebuttable presumption of neglect under particular conditions. Neglect of a dog is presumed when the dog has open wounds or sores on its body, excessive waste is present in the area in which the dog is tethered, and the tether used on the dog is a log or tow chain, or a prong, pinch, chain, or choke collar.

Contact a Skilled Pittsburgh Animal Cruelty Attorney

If you’ve been accused of violating an animal cruelty law in Pennsylvania, it’s important to obtain representation from a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we can mount the best possible defense on your behalf to limit or remove the consequences you are facing.

To schedule a free, initial consultation, contact us at (412) 281-2146.