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People of the State of New York v A. P., Appellant



April 3, 2018

A judgment was originally entered against the defendant on May 31, 2017, convicting him of the charge of aggravated cruelty to animals, including torturing animals. He was sentenced to 2 years in prison, which was unanimously affirmed.

The defendant brought a legal sufficiency claim which the court concluded was unpreserved, therefore the court has declined to review it. The court determined that the verdict was not contrary to the evidence presented (People v Danielson 9 NY3d 342, 348-349 [2007]). The court found that on the contrary, the evidence clearly established that the defendant killed his girlfriend’s dog in a way that exhibited aggravated cruelty (Agriculture and Markets Law 353, 353-a[1]).

The shocking details of this case were set forth in the court’s per curiam opinion that disbarred the defendant (Matter of P. 154 AD 184, 1st Dept. 2007) There is no legal reason for questioning the jury’s eligibility determinations.

The compelling circumstantial evidence is simple in that he killed the dog, no one else is at issue for this offense (friend, passerby, girlfriend). So, the defendant’s arguments are otherwise without merit.

The court properly used its discretion to admit prior evidence that the defendant had previously beaten his girlfriend’s dog, and the dog died in a manner in keeping with the evidence presented (People v Walker 293 AD2d 411 [1st Department 2002].

At the beginning, there was very clear circumstantial evidence that he committed this crime, and the court rejects his claims to the contrary. The court said that the probative value of the unchanged offense far outweighs any possible prejudice. This was also minimized by the court giving complete limiting instructions. The court found that this error was harmless (People v Crimmins 36 NY2d 230 [1975]).

The challenges that the defendant made to prosecutor’s summation are unpreserved.

The sentence as ordered stands.

The prevention of animal cruelty is mostly a state responsibility. However, because of growing awareness around the issue, Congress has begun to punish animal abusers under the Federal Commerce Clause of the United States.

In New York, these laws come primarily under Article 26 of the Agriculture and Markets Law. For the purposes of these statutes, an animal includes any living creature that is not a human.  A person who kills, tortures, injures, maims or beats an animal, including depriving the animal of food or water, is guilty of a misdemeanor and can receive 1 year in jail. They can also receive a fine of up to $1,000.

It is important to note that scientific testing, investigations, and experiments do not come under this law if they are conducted by the State Commissioner of Health.

If you have been convicted of this or another serious offense, it is important to take prompt action to ensure that your rights are protected. With the help of a skilled lawyer, you may be able to get your charges dropped, or lessened. A lawyer will help you present the best defense possible and ensure that your legal interests are protected at every stage of the process.

Speak with an experienced New York criminal lawyer from Stephen Bilkis and Associates for guidance and a free consultation. We will gather the facts of your case and create an action plan that makes sense for you moving forward. We have offices throughout the New York area, including locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Westchester County. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at 1-800-NYNYLAW.

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