Animal Cruelty Criminal Charges (Cockfighting Etc.)
(by Laura Monagle)
The Organized Crime Task Force this week made the biggest cockfighting bust in New York history, a bust involving 3000 birds. Two fights were raided simultaneously over the weekend in Brooklyn and Queens, in which investigators found birds incarcerated in tiny cages containing razors blades. The seventy individuals present at the two fights were arrested, although all but seven were released without charges. 115 birds were removed from the two locations.
Concurrent to the bust of the fights was a raid on an upstate farm, from which over 3000 birds were rescued.
Charges relating to animal cruelty are governed by Article 26 of the New York Agriculture and Markets Law. Media reports stated that the individuals faced only charges of animal fighting, which come under § 351(2): any person who engages in any of the following conduct is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for a period not to exceed four years, or by a fine not to exceed $25,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment – (a) for amusement or gain, causes any animal to engage in animal fighting, or – (b) trains any animal under circumstances evincing an intent that such animal engage in animal fighting for amusement or gain, or – (c) breeds, sells or offers for sale any animal under circumstances evincing such an intent that such animal engage in animal fighting, or – (d) permits any act described in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of this subdivision to occur on premises under his control, or – (e) owns, possesses or keeps any animal trained to engage in animal fighting on premises where an exhibition of animal fighting is being conducted under circumstances evincing an intent that such anima engage in animal fighting. It was reported that six of the men charged had brought cocks to the fights, and as such this activity would come under the above-mentioned sub-section (a). Thus the six men face felony charges, and up to four years imprisonment. The seventh individual was also charged with animal fighting charges, but the specifics of this arrest were not made public.
Cockfighting rings are often associated with the commission of other crimes. Depending on the facts of the case, the individuals who were charged could also face charges such as enterprise corruption (New York Penal Law § 460.00 et seq.)('NYPL'), money laundering (NYPL § 470), and/or gambling-related offenses (NYPL § 225).
The above charges are all very serious, and anyone facing such charges should contact an experienced attorney to handle their case.