Section 531 Crimes Act 1900 | Law Enforcement Animals


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Law enforcement animals such as sniffer dogs and horses are commonly used to assist police in their duties.

It is against the law to kill or seriously injure law enforcement animals, and doing so can attract charges under section 531 of the Crimes Act.

That section says that you may be charged with this offence where it is alleged that you intentionally killed or seriously injured a law enforcement animal, and you knew that the animal was being used by a law enforcement officer in their duties.

You may also be charged with this offence if it is alleged that you intentionally killed or seriously injured a law enforcement animal in retaliation for the use of the animal in assisting the law enforcement officer.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

While this may seem like a heavy penalty, it’s important to remember that it is the absolute maximum, and will only apply in the most serious cases.

Our lawyers have considerable experience fighting these types of charges and can assist you in avoiding a criminal conviction or a heavy penalty.

The Legislation

531 Killing or seriously injuring animals used for law enforcement

(1) A person who intentionally kills or seriously injures an animal:

(a) knowing that the animal is being used by a law enforcement officer in the execution of the officer’s duty, or

(b) as a consequence of, or in retaliation for, the use of the animal by a law enforcement officer while in the execution of the officer’s duty,

is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.

(2) In this section:”animal” means a dog, horse or other mammal (other than a human being).”law enforcement officer” means:

(a) a police officer (including a member of the police force of the Commonwealth or another State or Territory), or

(b) any other official of this State, the Commonwealth or another State or Territory who is authorised to use an animal in connection with the detention of persons or the enforcement of the laws of this State, the Commonwealth or another State or Territory.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Being accused of killing or seriously injuring a law enforcement animal can have a negative impact on your life and future.

However, with Sydney’s leading criminal lawyers on your side, you can give yourself the best defence against the charges.

Our lawyers specialise almost exclusively in criminal law – so you can trust that we have the knowledge and expertise necessary to secure a favourable outcome in your case.

We always seek to have matters resolved as soon as possible by carefully examining all the evidence in order to identify problems with the prosecution case.

Where issues are found, we can write to the prosecution and ask for the charges to be dropped.

This often means that our clients are spared the time and expense of fighting the matter in court.

However, should your case progress to a defended hearing before a magistrate, you can rest assured that our lawyers will work tirelessly to give you the best possible defence against the charges.

We are able to consistently obtain outstanding results in even the most serious criminal matters by raising all favourable evidence to cast doubt upon the prosecution case, along with any possible defences.

We can also assist you in avoiding a heavy penalty should you wish to plead guilty to the charges.

In these circumstances, we can construct persuasive sentencing submissions which emphasise the need for a lenient penalty.

Our ability to obtain excellent results in even the most serious cases is a reflection of our lawyers’ skill and knowledge.

Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference with our criminal defence lawyers to discuss your case.