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Animal offences

It is an offence to be cruel to, or have penetrative sex with, an animal in Queensland and doing so can have significant consequences, including jail with a criminal record and being banned from owning or keeping animals.

If you or a loved one has been charged with an offence against an animal, whether by the Police or the RSPCA, you should contact us for a confidential cost and obligation free discussion about the situation and how Townes & Associates can help. 

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    Animal offences

    s.211 and s.242 Queensland Criminal Code

    s.18 Animal Care & Protection Act 2001

    Cruelty offences in Queensland fall, essentially, into two categories; ‘serious animal cruelty’ which is an offence under the Queensland Criminal Code and ‘animal cruelty’ which is an offence under the Animal Care & Protection Act 2001 and is most often prosecuted by the RSPCA.  The Criminal Code also provides for a related, though totally separate, offence called bestiality which makes it a crime to have sex with an animal.

    At their least serious offences of animal cruelty carry a maximum fine of 2,000 penalty units and jail for up to 3 years while the most serous criminal code offences carry a maximum of 7 years jail.  In all cases orders can be made that a person who is guilty of a cruelty offence be prohibited from owning or keeping animals for a period of time (in addition to whatever other penalty is imposed on them).

    Depending on the circumstances, offences of animal cruelty and bestiality in Queensland are punished severely with fines, criminal convictions, banning orders and sometimes even jail even for first offenders.

    If you would like to know more about animal cruelty or bestiality in Queensland, use the tabs below to assist you.

    Animal offences in Queensland

    Select an offence from the tabs below for more information including the maximum penalty, common case examples and practical tips. Use the form at the bottom of this page, or the email link above, to get in touch if you have been charged with any of these offences.

    A charge laid under s.242 of the Queensland Criminal Code, serious animal cruelty is committed when a person has the intention to cause severe pain and suffering to an animal and they unlawfully kill, or cause serious injury or prolonged suffering to that animal.  The maximum penalty for serious animal cruelty in Queensland is 7 years imprisonment with a criminal conviction.

    Serious animal cruelty is, as the name suggests, the most serious cruelty offence in Queensland and it is prosecuted on indictment by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

    If you would like more information about serious animal cruelty please use the tabs below to assist you. 

    Serious animal cruelty is often committed in the following ways:

    Live baiting

    A greyhound trainer, in an effort to gain an edge over their competition, ties a native Australian possum to a mechanical lure and has their racing dogs pursue it around a training track.  Assuming this person is a first time offender they might expect to be released on Probation if their conduct was limited to one or two possums.  If it is proved, however, that the person’s conduct was part of a large-scale training regime a jail sentence becomes a very real possibility.

    Revenge killing

    In the throws of a messy divorce, one partner – out of spite – puts acid in the shared family pet’s water bowl, causing the animal to die painfully.  Assuming this person is a first offender they should expect to receive at least a suspended jail sentence though a period of actual custody would likely be considered by most sentencing judges.

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A person is not guilty of serious animal cruelty if they cause the death of animal without an intention to cause severe pain and suffering to it.  Importantly, simply proving that an animal suffered or died is not sufficient to establish the offence, there must also be proof that the person who caused the suffering or death intended, in doing whatever they did to cause that result, to cause ‘severe pain and suffering.

    A charge of serious animal cruelty will be heard in the District Court

    The element of intention to cause severe pain and suffering is often the most difficult for the Crown to prove, particularly in cases where there is an absence of evidence as to the precise mechanism of death (for example where an animal carcass has decomposed prior to being examined by the Crown veterinarian).   It is not sufficient for the prosecution to simply establish that death was caused, or even that pain was suffered by the animal, a separate intention to cause pain and suffering must also be established by the evidence to prove guilt.

    In many cases of serious animal cruelty, consideration should be given to a submission that a summary charge of cruelty under the Animal Care & Protection Act be laid in return for an expeditious plea of guilty (assuming one is instructed to do so).  

    A charge laid under s.18 of the Animal Care & Protection Act 2001, animal cruelty is an offence which is committed when a person is cruel to an animal.  The maximum penalty for animal cruelty in Queensland is a fine of 2,000 penalty units and/or 3 years imprisonment.

    Cruelty is defined as doing any of the long list of things set out in subsection 18(2) of the Act against an animal.  Most commonly, cruelty offences are committed when a person mistreats an animal they own or care for (by neglecting it or beating it) and/or by killing an animal in an inhumane way that causes undue pain and suffering.

    Animal cruelty is prosecuted in the Magistrates Court, ordinarily by a private lawyer paid by the RSPCA whose fees will, at least in part,  by paid by a person who is guilty of an animal cruelty offence (through the payment of something called a ‘moiety’).

    If you would like to know more about animal cruelty in Queensland use the tabs below to assist you

    Animal cruelty is often committed in the following ways:

    An accidental killing

    A person is enraged at their new puppy for fouling the carpet and, in an attempt to discipline the animal, kicks it with some force.  Unfortunately, the force of the kick causes the animal’s ribs to break and puncture one or another vital organ.  Over the next week the puppy becomes progressively sicker and dies.  A post-mortem examination reveals the cause of death to be the owner’s kick.  Assuming they are a first offender this person might expect to receive a large fine, half payable to the RSPCA, likely with a criminal conviction being recorded.  If this person has other pets in the family home they are likely to be prohibited from keeping them any longer.

    Deliberate neglect and mistreatment

    A person keeps an animal which they enter into organised dog fights (itself a separate, prohibited, activity).  In order to make the dog more aggressive during its fights the owner regularly beats it and, in the days leading up to an event, they withdraw food from it (to heighten its desperation and aggression ‘in the ring’).  Assuming they are a first offender this person might expect to lose possession of their dog (which will likely be destroyed) and be released on Probation or some form of conditional jail sentence (perhaps a suspended sentence or a parole release).

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A charge of animal cruelty will be heard in the Magistrates Court

    If a client is sentenced for animal cruelty the prosecutor (normally a private solicitor retained by the RSPCA) will likely seek a moiety in favour of the RSPCA as part of any pecuniary penalty.  Additionally, it is not uncommon for the costs associated with transporting, housing and in some cases destroying, animals which are seized from clients be payable by that client on sentence (the court can make such an order by dint of s.190 of the Act).

    A client can enhance their position on sentence if they are able to pay the cost of the seizure/destruction prior to attending court, this can normally be arranged via the prosecutor who will provide an invoice for the costs incurred which can be paid through the ordinary mechanisms.  If undertaking this course of action it is important that good records are kept of payments which are made – client’s should take screen shots of transaction receipts and, if time allows, receipt of payment should be confirmed in writing with the prosecutor before attending court.

    Be conscious, when advising a client, of the implications of a prohibition order on them and their family.  Prohibition orders can be made in respect of animals which are entirely unrelated to the cruelty proceeding, for example a person (and their children) can lose possession of their family pets even if those pets suffered no cruelty at all.

    A charge laid under s.211 of the Queensland Criminal Code, bestiality is committed when a person has ‘carnal knowledge with, or of’, an animal.  The maximum penalty for bestiality in Queensland is 7 years imprisonment with a criminal conviction.

    Carnal knowledge means, in essence, any act of sexual penetration and in the context of bestiality it means either penetrating an animal sexually or causing an animal to penetrate you.

    If you would like to know more about bestiality in Queensland use the tabs below to assist you.

    Bestiality is often committed in the following ways:

    End of year shenanigans

    A semi-professional sporting team has an end of season party at the coach’s home during which a player performs a penetrative sexual act on the family dog for the amusement of their teammates.  Unfortunately for this person, a teammate films the act and puts it on social media which, in due course, attracts police attention and the player is charged with bestiality.  Assuming they are a youthful first offender this person might expect to receive a large fine with or without a conviction being recorded (depending on the quality of their preparation for, and representation in, court).

    Commercial pornography

    A person accepts money to have sex with a farm animal on camera, with the footage to be later sold or rented to viewers on the internet.  Assuming they are a first offender and a willing participant in the arrangement (and not, for example, being prevailed upon by a violent partner), this person might expect to receive a Probation order and likely a criminal conviction.

    Please note these examples and penalties are illustrations only.  Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.

    A charge of bestiality will be heard in the District Court.

    Facing charges?

    If you or a loved one has been charged with animal cruelty, bestiality or any other offence against an animal, you should contact Townes & Associates for a confidential, cost and obligation free discussion about the situation and how we can help.  Use the form below to get in touch, leave your best contact telephone number and we will give you call back at no cost to you.

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