TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which increase penalties of animal cruelty, specifically in commission of another crime, was unanimously approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee today.
“When you talk to a pet owner, their pet is considered to be part of the family, and there’s a reason for that,” said Senator Karcher. “So many New Jerseyans know the companionship and love a pet can bring into their lives, and it’s not so unrealistic to have empathy for animals suffering from abuse at the hands of mankind. The State should ensure that acts of animal cruelty are properly punished under the law.”
The bill, S-161, would create a new criminal offense for killing or seriously injuring an animal during the commission of some other serious crime, such as murder, assault or robbery, or during the flight from law enforcement officials for one of these crimes. The bill also increases penalties for animal cruelty, in instances when cruelty is committed purposely or if the animal dies from its cruel treatment, from those applicable for a fourth-degree crime, subject to a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or up to 18 months imprisonment, to penalties for a third-degree crime, with a maximum fine of $15,000 and/or a term of imprisonment between three to five years. Any penalty accrued under these proposed statutes would be in addition to civil penalties under the current law, and any penalty from other crimes committed.
“This bill brings the punishments in line with the crime when it comes to animal cruelty,” said Senator Karcher. “We need to make it very clear that New Jersey will not turn a blind eye on the plight of endangered or mistreated animals, and that we will enforce penalties with teeth for cruelty in this State.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.