Jacksonville Juvenile Charged With Animal Cruelty

A 12-year-old boy has been charged in Clay County with felony animal cruelty charges after authorities allege two ponies, three goats and two chickens died or had to be euthanized because of the boy.

Juvenile crimes in Jacksonville are among the most difficult because they have such long-term impacts. A teenager who is charged with a crime must be rehabilitated, not sent into the harsh adult criminal justice system. An experienced Jacksonville Juvenile Defense Attorney may be able to provide mitigation in order to convince the prosecution to try the teen as a juvenile and not an adult or move for lesser penalties, such as being treated as a youthful offender on more serious charges.
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In this case, there is little likelihood a 12-year-old boy will be charged as an adult, but mental health professionals and other medical care may be the more appropriate route.

According to the news report, police believe the 12-year-old used a butcher knife, piece of lumber, pipe and golf club to injure the animals. One pony’s leg was beaten so badly it was barely still attached and a chick was found on a slab of concrete with its head torn off.

The alleged attacks happened at a stable and the boy was fingered through eye witness accounts and because the boy allegedly left his dog at the stable after one of the attacks.

Police reports state the pony’s legs and baby goats were beaten by golf clubs and pipes. One of the pony’s legs was broken and cut open so badly it hung only by skin. It was euthanized. A 2-year-old quarterhorse was cut on its shoulder and a 1-year-old billy goat had an injured leg, but both lived. Police say a chick was decapitated.

Charges of animal cruelty often bring out strong emotions in animal lovers — sometimes they care more about animal victims than human victims. And often this leads to the public calling for severe charges, even against juveniles.

But one must consider the suspect in this case. A 12-year-old boy’s mental capacity is much lower than an adult. The brain takes a long time to fully develop and that must be taken into consideration. If a teen doesn’t understand the consequences of their actions, it must be a factor in the filing decision of prosecutors.

In the adult criminal system, animal cruelty in Florida is defined under Florida Statutes 828.12. Under that law, someone can be charged with a misdemeanor up to a third-degree felony.

A misdemeanor animal cruelty charge means not providing shelter or food over overloads an animal and causing injury or death. It is punishable by a year in jail. The felony charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and is defined as intentionally causing death. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Either charge is serious and must be fought diligently.


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 Crimes Cause Long-Term Problems: July 28, 2011
Additional Resources:

Orange Park boy, 12, arrested after case of extreme animal cruelty at stable, by Dan Scanlan, Topher Sanders, The Florida Times-Union