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New animal cruelty felony laws coming out of Congress

Many people in California treat their pets like members of the family, and federal lawmakers have taken action to strengthen federal laws against animal cruelty. The passage of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act in the U.S. House of Representatives addressed the criminality of interstate commerce when it contributes to acts of animal cruelty. The U.S. Senate has a similar bill in the works, and final legislation could head to the White House for the president's signature.

The bill specifically addressed the role that interstate or foreign commerce could play in the production of animal crushing videos. The new legislation designated some acts as felonies that had not been mentioned in the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act.

Bipartisan support for the legislation has been strong. The co-sponsors in the House intended the expansion of felonies described in the bill to reinforce social intolerance for animal crushing videos and other acts of animal cruelty and torture. If the act becomes law, it would not alter local animal cruelty laws. The president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund expressed support for the additional laws because he views people who torture animals as capable of harming the most vulnerable members of a society.

Anyone charged with federal crimes could likely face harsh penalties if convicted. The representation of an attorney when someone becomes embroiled in a federal criminal case may provide crucial insights about how to proceed with a defense. An attorney might strive to sow doubt among jurors at a trial regarding the accuracy of evidence. Prior to a trial, an attorney may help a person explore the possibility of making a plea bargain with a prosecutor. That route might reduce a felony charge and ultimately lighten the sentence.

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