When we keep animals for our benefit the law maintains that we owe them duties of care and safeguarding. Sometimes, for various reasons, the proper care and safeguarding of animals is not accomplished. I find that generally, even simple neglect of animals, though it can be charged as a misdemeanor in Oklahoma, is filed as a felony. I also find that most animal neglect and cruelty charges are the result of mental illness in the accused which can often be successfully remedied and is always worth doing.
Prosecutors will not usually bring these charges unless the physical evidence is overwhelming. Unlike a case involving people as victims, animals cannot testify as to their condition, they can only be physically examined. Photographic evidence is the most common evidence besides the testimony of animal control officers.
Part of practice in this area is understanding that ultimately the prosecutor is the authority who determines how the acts will be prosecuted and since the evidence is generally overwhelming they will elect to proceed on the matter as felony. Obtaining a misdemeanor amended charge will be the result of one either
- negotiating with the DA, or;
- taking the case to trial where the jury can decide what's a misdemeanor and what's not.
People are emotionally volatile when it comes to charges of animal abuse. If you are the accused you need serious representation immediately.