Tuesday, January 27, 2004
New Jersey Gets Tough On Animal Cruelty
by Charlotte LoBuono
Gov. James McGreevey (D-NJ) recently signed into law new legislation that would increase penalties for those who abuse and injure animals in New Jersey.
Acts of cruelty resulting in the death of an animal are now considered a third-degree crime. In addition, repeat offenders of animal cruelty laws, including those whose abuse was not fatal, will now face third-degree penalties of a maximum of five years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
The new law increases the civil penalties that may be collected by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to between $500 and $5,000.
The cosponsors of the bill, Assemblymen Doug Fisher, John Burzichelli, and Robert Smith, said repeat offenders will be subject to additional civil penalties.
Previously, state law did not distinguish between cases of animal cruelty that resulted in death and those that did not. It also did not
provide additional penalties for repeat offenders.
In the past, those charged with animal cruelty were charged with fourth-degree crimes, which carry maximum penalties of $10,000 in fines or 18 months in prison.
Fisher, Burzichelli, and Smith said that they were motivated to sponsor the bill by several horrific stories of animal abuse in New Jersey in the last two years.
© 2004 Animal News Center, Inc.