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Serious Animal Cruelty

Serious Animal Cruelty is an offence under Section 530 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You intended to inflict severe pain on an animal, and
  2. With that intention, you tortured, beat or committed any other serious act of cruelty on an animal, and
  3. You killed, seriously injured or caused prolonged suffering to that animal

A 3 year maximum penalty applies where:

  1. You were reckless as to whether severe pain would be inflicted on an animal, and
  2. That recklessness resulted in the torturing, beating or serious act of cruelty on an animal, and
  3. The killing, serious injuring or prolonged suffering of that animal

An ‘animal’ is defined as a mammal (other than a human), a bird or a reptile.

‘Serious act of cruelty’ includes using the animal as a lure for another animal or permitting a dog to kill or seriously injure the animal.

You were ‘reckless’ if you foresaw the possibility of severe pain being inflicted but went ahead with your actions regardless.

You are not criminally responsible if your conduct occurred:

  1. With lawful authority under the Animal Research Act 1985, or
  2. In the course of, or for the purposes of, routine agricultural or animal husbandry practices or recognised religious practices, the extermination of pests or veterinary practice.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Self-defence
  2. Duress, and
  3. Necessity

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