On Oct. 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would make it a federal crime to commit acts of animal cruelty. The bipartisan legislation, which received unanimous approval, was introduced by Florida Reps. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, and Vern Buchanan, a Republican.
In 2010, Congress passed a law banning the creation and distribution of videos depicting animal crushing and other forms of animal cruelty. However, that bill failed to outlaw general acts of violence against animals. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT, closes that loophole by making it a federal crime to “intentionally engage” in the burning, drowning, impaling, suffocating or harming of animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. The law would only apply to interstate and international cases and wouldn’t interfere with state and local laws on animal abuse.
In a statement, Deutch said that the bill makes it clear that American society is against the abuse of animals. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals praised the passage of the bill, saying that it’s an important step toward obtaining a federal ban on animal cruelty. Before becoming law, the bill must also be passed in the U.S. Senate and be signed by President Donald Trump.
All defendants charged with federal crimes are presumed innocent and have the right to fight the accusations in court. By working with a criminal defense attorney, it might be possible to dispute the evidence and cast doubt on the prosecution’s version of events. These actions could cause the case to be dismissed or help the defendant win an acquittal at trial. However, if the evidence is solid, legal counsel might suggest negotiating a plea bargain instead of contesting the charges in court. This strategy might help the defendant obtain a lighter sentence.