Legal Question in Criminal Law in Florida

In many states, animals are chattel. In Florida this is true. If animals are chattel, then why are there animal cruelty crimes? This is akin to being charged for leaving a hot coffee mug on a table without protection, allowing the finish to be ruined, which would be a loss of value. What leads up to animal cruelty seems then to overstep the bounds of property law and gives a modicum of person-hood to animals, elevating them into a gray area between a human-like being and property. What quantifies the fact that animals are chattel but are treated as more than property (an overlap between tort law and criminal law)?

Asked on 5/22/13, 8:15 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Craig Epifanio Craig Epifanio, P.A.

There are way too many reasons in a forum such as this and without hiring an attorney for their time, but here's the simple answer. Animals while defined as chattel under CIVIL law, under CRIMINAL law they are treated differently. Your analogy is not proper in this situation. For example, a 16 year old is free to have consensual sex with a 21 year old, but if that person were 24, then a crime can be committed. The legislature decides that certain people, animals, and other personal property should be treated differently depending on the law. A cup of coffee has no rights. A dog does. If the legislature chose to treat a dog and a cup of coffee the same, they could do so, but there would be a lot of upset citizens out there.

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Answered on 5/23/13, 6:37 am

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