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Viewing animal fights could soon be a federal crime

Federal crimes include any criminal act that falls within the jurisdiction of the federal government, like a crime involving a violation of the federal criminal code or crimes involving interstate commerce. Because of the unique nature of federal crimes and the federal rules of criminal procedure, it is vital that California residents accused of federal offenses contact a criminal defense attorney experienced with federal cases.

Under a current proposal that is headed for United States congressional approval, it will now be a federal offense for an adult individual to attend an animal fight. Furthermore, the proposed legislation includes enhancements for adult spectators who bring a child. For the law to apply, however, there must be evidence of interstate activity, such as an animal that was transported to the fight across state lines.

The legislation, which is expected to clear the Senate, was included as a provision within the farm bill. The provision calls for a maximum federal penalty for spectators who knowingly attend an animal fight of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. If the spectator "knowingly causes" a minor to attend an illegal animal fight, they face a maximum prison sentence of up to three years in prison as well as a $250,000.

The topic of animal fighting has been a controversial subject for years, but those who attend such events cannot currently be punished under federal law. The supporters of stopping animal fighting, such as animal-welfare groups, have been pushing for stricter legislation and harsher penalties against those caught participating in such activities for years. Should the proposed penalty pass, it may be important for those charged to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney to help understand their case and seek the best possible outcome.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Animal-fight spectators face stiff penalties under proposed law," Richard Simon, June 8, 2013

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