Clay County Man Accused of Animal Cruelty on Ducklings

The Florida Times-Union reports that a Clay County man now faces charges of animal cruelty after allegedly mowing over four ducklings.

Being charged with animal cruelty in Jacksonville or the surrounding areas can be a daunting realization for some people. In cases like this, sometimes people make a mistake that severely injures an animal. In other cases, mental illnesses can cause people to harm animals. But hiring an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer to dispute the facts and put together a compelling defense is important to any case.According to the news report, a public works employee is accused of chasing four ducklings and a mother duck with a lawnmower. The four ducklings were killed. The 29-year-old Middleburg man was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.

According to an arrest report, the incident happened on a recent Friday in Middleburg in an already-mowed section of a subdivision off County Road 220. Some witnesses said the man chased the ducks, and lowered the mower’s brush cutting attachment to mutilate them. Four of the seven were killed, the newspaper reports.

According to a police report, one witness said the man then “appeared to laugh and gave …the thumbs up,” after he was done. Another witness said the man bragged about what he did, the newspaper reports.

According to Florida Statutes 828.12, the law that defines animal cruelty, the crime can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony.

The distinction between the two forms of charges is the actions of the defendant. For the misdemeanor charge to apply, a person must “unnecessarily” kill or injure an animal. To be charged with a felony, a person must “intentionally” commit the act, which, in this case, appears to be the charge prosecutors have gone with, based on the news reports that site the arrest report.

The difference may seem minor, but the penalties are much different. A misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to a year in jail. But the felony charge carries a possible five-year prison sentence. That’s a big difference for one word in the statute.

And, as with any crime, public opinion can sometimes sway the filing decisions made by prosecutors. Perhaps it is even more of a factor in animal cruelty cases because these cases tend to pull at the heartstrings of pet owners and animal lovers. The news media also tends to pick up on these cases for that same reason.

The state has an extreme burden in these cases, however. They must prove the allegations beyond all reasonable doubt. That means if the jury has any doubt that the defendant committed the crime, they must vote to acquit. And an experienced criminal defense attorney must work to keep key evidence out of trial and question all of the state’s witnesses in defense of the accused.

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.

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Jacksonville Juvenile Charged With Animal Cruelty: August 17, 2011

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