One of the qualities that make animal cruelty and fighting cases unique and also complicated are the live evidence. The animals who suffered neglect, maltreatment or cruelty are seized from the defendant and held by sheltering organizations. Too often, these animals are held for long periods waiting for the defendants’ prosecution in shelters with limited resources. But this doesn’t have to be the case, especially when there are legal workarounds that can safeguard the animals’ well-being.
Jennifer Chin is the Vice President of the ASPCA Legal Advocacy Department. Her responsibilities include overseeing the department in its efforts to provide legal support to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors around the country on cases related to animal cruelty. Their work led to pre-conviction forfeiture of animals and lend their expertise to assist federal, state and local courts in issues related to animal law.
Jennifer discusses pre-conviction dispositional statutes on this course, detailing on points like:
- The reality on the lengthy time animals involved in animal cruelty or animal fighting cases are held by sheltering organizations.
- ASPCA’s team composition, scope, and dynamics of their work.
- The legal assistance provided by ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy Department, zeroing on pre-conviction dispositional proceedings.
- The challenges of long hold times in the form of:
- Medical and behavioral concerns of maltreated animals.
- Animals that experience decline over time deeming them unadoptable or end up euthanized.
- Resource challenges including finances, limited space and staffing concerns.
- Revictimization of the animals due to less than ideal conditions in the shelter.
- The legal challenges presented by the fact that the animals remain to be properties of the defendant.
- The various types of pre-conviction dispositional statutes in effect, which can result in forfeiture if not met.
- The most common Bond/Security Posting which orders a defendant to post a bond to cover for the costs incurred for care and shelter of the seized animals.
- Owner Fitness Proceedings that gauges an individual’s ability to care for the animal.
- Liens where the seizing agency is given the right to the defendant’s property to secure the debt incurred for housing and caring for the seized animals.
- Other proceedings utilized by certain states to decide on the forfeiture of the animal.
- The agencies authorized to initiate and the due process considerations for the proceedings.
- Technicalities concerning the required timeframe to initiate proceedings, the scope of animals included in the forfeiture, and the nature of the proceeding.
- Proof required for seizure, animal maltreatment/cruelty/fighting, and cost for the care of the animals seized.
- Practical tips when involved in such proceedings.
- The importance of coordination, planning, and compliance with requirements and deadlines.
- Developing a strategy for often complicated large scale cases
- Building your case in relation to the criminal case including considering the witness to stand for the proceeding and the criminal prosecution.
- Clarifying court orders on authorized disposition, placement of animals and humane euthanasia.
- Preparing for the possibility of appeals and motion to stay.