The Alabama legislature has passed a bill that strengthens the state’s animal cruelty laws. H.B. 27 lowers the burden of proof on prosecutors in establishing animal cruelty under the state’s law, Sec 13A-11-14. Instead of having to prove the offender acted intentionally or recklessly, prosecutors will only be required to prove criminal negligence or recklessness.
Also, animal cruelty will be a Class A misdemeanor instead of Class B. Maximum jail time will be increased from six months to one year.
The bill also establishes the crime of aggravated animal cruelty. A person commits aggravated animal cruelty by intentionally or knowingly committing an act of animal cruelty or neglect with torture. The word “torture” means inflicting “inhumane treatment or gross physical abuse meant to cause the animal intensive or prolonged pain or serious physical injury, or by causing the death of the animal.” Aggravated animal cruelty will be a Class C felony.
The bill has been sent to Gov. Robert J. Bentley for his signature.
Under current law only intentional torture to a dog or cat is a felony. Sec. 13A-11-241. H.B. 27 applies to all animals.