Animal Cruelty Charges in North Carolina

Animal cruelty is a crime in North Carolina at the state, federal, and local levels. Here, we discuss the state’s misdemeanor and felony charges for animal cruelty and briefly touch upon the potential local and federal charges you may face if you are accused.

Animal Cruelty Under North Carolina Law

Under North Carolina G.S. § 14-360, it is illegal in North Carolina to injure, torment, overwork, kill, poison, beat, maim, or withhold food and water from any animal. Likewise, it is a crime to instigate or promote animal cruelty. These acts are all punishable as Class 1 misdemeanors. Additionally, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor to abandon an animal in your control without a justifiable reason. 

If a person maliciously tortures, mutilates, maims, cruelly beats, disfigures, poisons, or kills an animal (or causes another to do so), that person could be charged with a Class H felony. There are additional, specific, animal cruelty crimes (such as dogfighting) for which you should consult a North Carolina criminal defense attorney.

Finally, there are also some exemptions from the State’s animal cruelty laws, which you should consult a lawyer about if you think any of these apply to your case. These include using animals for the lawful purposes of biomedical research, production of livestock, providing food for human or animal consumption, or veterinary purposes. 

Dogfighting and Cockfighting

Dogfighting in North Carolina is illegal. Owning or training dogs, betting on a fight, or even just watching a dogfight are all illegal in the state and are punishable as Class 2 misdemeanors. There are similar penalties for participating in cockfighting or fighting of any other type of animal, the punishments for which range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the specific circumstances of the fight and the defendant’s participation in the fight. 

Local and Federal Animal Cruelty Charges

Anyone charged with animal cruelty in North Carolina should also be aware of possible local and federal charges. In addition to state laws, many local municipalities have their own regulations regarding animals such as dogs and other pets. Your specific city will likely have additional regulations on animal cruelty that, if violated, will bring about additional penalties. 

Lastly, in November 2019, the President signed into law “The Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act.” This law makes it a federal crime to commit certain acts of animal abuse, including crushing, burning, or suffocating animals, so you should be aware of potential federal penalties as well. 

Contact a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Charges.

If you have questions about an animal cruelty charge, contact Cotten Law. Jeremy has represented tens of thousands of clients charged with offenses such as yours and has hundreds of stellar reviews online. Our offices serve clients in central North Carolina including Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties. Give our office a call or click over to our main page to chat live with an assistant 24 hours a day.