Jacksonville Beach Police Seek Animal Abuse Suspect

Police in Jacksonville Beach are asking for the public’s help in finding a person who may have intentionally killed a golden retriever, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Animal cruelty charges in Jacksonville can be among the most high-profile cases because of people’s love for animals. And this added attention is rarely good for the defendant, so hiring an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney to not only win the battle in the eye of the public, but as well as in the courtroom, is critical.
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Parker, the pet of two Fletcher High School teachers, disappeared from their backyard on Kings Court on July 4. Two weeks later, the dog’s remains were found in a creek on Nightfall Drive in Neptune Beach. The body had floated free from a tarp that was weighted down with cinder blocks.

Police told the newspaper that the dog’s remains were too badly decomposed to determine a cause of death, but based on the circumstances of the dog’s discovery, the case is being treated as an act of animal cruelty. The dog’s owners said Parker had no history of running away and was friendly.

Florida First Coast Crime Stoppers is seeking donations in order to create a reward for information leading to an arrest.

Animal cruelty charges in Jacksonville are punishable either as a misdemeanor or a felony charge, depending on the circumstances. According to Florida Statutes 828.12, the variation in facts can lead either to a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

There’s obviously a big distinction between the possible penalties, so let’s take a look at the difference in the circumstances that lead to each degree of charge.

For the misdemeanor charge, a person must overload, overdrive, torment, deprive of sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily kill or mutilate an animal. For a person to qualify for the felony, a person must intentionally kill or inflict unnecessary pain or suffering on an animal.

The difference there are the words “unnecessarily” and “intentionally.” In both cases, an animal can be killed or severely injured, but it’s the intent that makes the difference between the two situations. An example of “unnecessarily” killing or injuring an animal is possibly running over a pet while not paying attention or even if a person was driving drunk. It wasn’t intentional, but through negligence, the death occurred. It appears this case, where a dog was taken, killed and dropped into a creek while weighted down with cinder blocks, will qualify as the felony offense.

These charges must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt, however, which means an experienced defense attorney will scrutinize all evidence against the accused and hold the state to the high burden it has in proving a case.


The Forbess Law Firm has been helping clients facing criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today through our website. Or call us at 904-634-0900.

More Blog Entries:

Jacksonville Juvenile Charged With Animal Cruelty: August 17, 2011
Additional Resources:

Beach police seek help probing dog death, by Maggie FitzRoy, The Florida Times-Union