When it comes to animal cruelty in Michigan, the law provides a continuum with regard to the severity of the offense. The severity typically depends on the number of animals involved and whether the accused individual has any other animal cruelty convictions. For example, an instance of animal cruelty that involves one animal will likely be classified as a misdemeanor, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days, a fine of up to $1,000, community service of up to 200 hours or any combination of those penalties.
If the alleged offense involves between two and nine animals, then the penalties may increase, but the offense will likely still be classified as a misdemeanor. However, once you commit an offense that involves 10 or more animals, or you have been convicted twice or more for animal cruelty, then you may be convicted of a felony. This means that, upon conviction, you could wind up behind bars for up to four years, be forced to pay a fine of up to $5,000, and be ordered to perform up to 500 hours of community service.
But the penalties do not end there. If you are convicted of animal cruelty or neglect, then you might be ordered to pay for the housing and treatment that is necessary to care for the animal. You might also be prohibited from owning animals for a certain period of time.
Losing one's animals, time and money can redefine one's life. So, if you are facing animal cruelty, neglect or abandonment allegations, then you might want to think about your defense options. By presenting a competent defense, you might be able to avoid harsh penalties, keep your animals, and move on with your life.
Source: Michigan Legislature, "Section 750.50," accessed on Nov. 13, 2015