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Failing to Control a Dangerous Animal

July 19, 2016

Criminal law 2950 is defined as failing to maintain control of a dangerous animal. An individual can be tried in a court of law for causing injury or death by refusing to control a vicious animal.
In order to be found guilty of breaking criminal law 2950, a person must be proven to have:

  • Failed to control a dangerous animal.
  • Been aware that the animal was dangerous.

Alternative 3A states that the animal was allowed to roam freely by the owner.
Alternative 3B states that the owner/defendant chose not to use ordinary care to confine and care for the animal and the animal caused serious bodily harm or death to a passerby while roaming freely.

Serious bodily harm would include: bone fracture, wounds involving extensive treatment, disfigurement, loss of limb or organ function, concussion or loss of consciousness.

‘Willfully’ implies the act was done on purpose. It does not matter if the defendant intended to harm someone or break the law.

‘Ordinary care’ means the precautions a reasonable owner would exert upon possibility of harm to another from his/her dangerous animal.

If a dangerous animal causes the death of another person, the owner can be made liable for criminal offense and up to three years incarceration. If the victim is badly injured, the crime can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If a misdemeanor is charged, the punishment could include one year in jail. If decision is made for a felony, the maximum sentence is three years incarceration. Restitution to a victim would be ordered in both scenarios, as well as court costs.

The court needs to prove that the attack victim took all reasonable avenues to avoid the vicious animal, and was unable to do so. The exception would be a person under the age of five years or a mentally impaired individual who could not take such precautions.
Wild animals or wildlife pets are classified as dangerous until proven otherwise, but domestic animals are classified as such if vicious behavior is demonstrated.

Certain defenses to the accusation of failing to control a dangerous animal are reasonable. For example, a person may not own an animal running on his/her property, and be unaware the animal was dangerous or present.

If a dog-sitter was not made aware of a dog’s dangerous behaviors and the dog attacked another individual, the dog-sitter would not be at fault.

If the dangerous animal was tethered or in a secured area and the victim did not use ordinary precautions in approach, the owner is not criminally liable unless the victim was not old enough or mentally cognizant enough to be knowledgeable of danger.

If an owner was unaware that an animal under his care was dangerous and the animal escaped and harmed someone, the owner would not be liable unless he/she was previously aware of dangerous behavior by the animal.

Failure to control a dangerous animal is a criminal charge.
If you have been charged with failure to control a dangerous animal, it is very important to receive risk-free consultation from a New York City lawyer. Please call today to find out what your options are to defend yourself against this serious charge.



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