Model legislation to protect victims, ensure justice, and prevent recidivism in animal cruelty cases through court-appointed advocates.
In addition to the state prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the enforcement agency (animal control or police officer), the appointed advocate is “an official party to the case. They can do investigative work prosecutors often don't have time for, such as interviewing veterinarians and other witnesses. They also make arguments, write briefs and make recommendations to the judge.”
Before Connecticut passed such a law, 80% of cruelty cases were dismissed or not prosecuted. The rate of actual conviction was even worse. Of the 3,723 reported cruelty cases before passage, only 19 resulted in a conviction – ½ of 1%. That means 99.5% of people charged with cruelty faced little to no legal consequences.
Indeed, Connecticut’s “Desmond’s Law” is named after a dog killed by someone who did not receive jail time. “Brutally beaten, strangled and starved — Desmond’s owner admitted it, but was only sentenced to a 4-month rehabilitation program.” He’s not alone. “Cats and dogs in Connecticut have been scalded with hot liquid, kicked to death, left shivering outside in the bitter cold, and killed as revenge following romantic break-ups.” The perpetrators remained unpunished.
Not anymore. “Both advocates and activists report stiffer penalties since the law’s enactment.” A Harvard Law Review article further found that it has led to “voluntary forfeiture of animals, restitution for rescue organizations, agreements to avoid future contact with animals, and agreements to seek counseling.”
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