Criminal Justice Program

ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program is staffed by attorneys, including former prosecutors, with expertise in animal protection law. Our attorneys provide free legal assistance to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to ensure that state criminal anti-cruelty statutes are vigorously enforced and that those convicted of animal cruelty and neglect receive appropriate sentences. We work with state legislators to enact felony anti-cruelty statutes in states that do not yet have them and to upgrade existing laws in states that do. The Criminal Justice Program also maintains a nationwide database of animal cruelty cases and current and model animal protection laws available to prosecutors, legislators and researchers.

ALDF declared war on cruelty in 1994, launching a nationwide campaign for stiffer laws and, more vigorous prosecution of animal abusers, and making available the tools to win convictions and appropriate sentences for those found guilty of mistreating animals.

District attorney and law enforcement offices too often lack the resources or the special expertise needed to prosecute criminal abuse cases.

ALDF staff attorneys provide the following free legal services to prosecutors, investigators, and veterinary professionals:

Legal research
ALDF attorneys will perform legal research as requested by prosecutors handling animal cruelty cases.  ALDF attorneys will also assist law enforcement officers with drafting affidavits in support of search warrant applications.

ALDF attorneys will assist veterinarians with questions regarding their role in animal cruelty cases.

Strategy suggestions
ALDF attorneys with prosecution experience will discuss and suggest strategies to promote a successful animal cruelty prosecution.

They can assist veterinarians in drafting their reports in cruelty cases and in preparing for the possibility of courtroom testimony.

Friend-of-the-court briefs and memos
At a prosecutor’s request, ALDF attorneys will submit amicus curiae briefs in support of the prosecution.

Location of expert witnesses
ALDF will help prosecutors locate expert witnesses, including veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and experts on animal fighting and on animal hoarding.  ALDF even has limited funding to assist prosecutors with the cost of retaining expert witnesses.

Training and seminars
ALDF attorneys are available to lead accredited training programs for police, veterinarians, animal control officers, prosecutors, judges, and community groups on topics such as investigating and prosecuting animal abuse. Contact ALDF to get a list of recent speaking engagements.

Sample pleadings
ALDF has sample pleadings, research memos, and briefs on issues relevant to cruelty prosecutions. They are available to prosecutors upon request.


Voir dire questions

ALDF has sample voir dire questions for jury selection in animal cruelty cases.

Jury instructions
ALDF has sample jury instructions for animal cruelty cases.

National Animal Cruelty Database
ALDF maintains a nationwide database of animal cruelty cases, and makes the information we gather — including convictions and sentences — available to prosecutors, judges, legislators and researchers.

Online resources
ALDF provides a compendium of current animal protection laws, a legal advocates’ manual, a searchable database of cases and laws, and many other resources available on our website. ALDF has a quick reference table for veterinarians who suspect animal cruelty which sets forth those states that have guidelines for reporting, and protection from civil and criminal liability.

ALDF staff attorneys provide the following free legal services to legislators:

Legislation drafting or review
ALDF attorneys with special expertise in animal protection legislation will draft or review animal protection legislation.

Testify at committee hearings
ALDF attorneys are available to help educate legislative committee members by testifying at public hearings or in helping to locate other special experts to testify.

Online resources
ALDF provides a compendium of current animal protection laws, a collection of model animal protection laws, and many other resources available on our website.

ALDF staff provide the following free services to citizens:

Online resources
ALDF provides citizen guides on what to do when anti-cruelty laws have been broken, what to do if your companion animal has been injured or killed, how to find an attorney, and many other resources available on our website.

Location to report animal cruelty
Citizens can report cases of animal cruelty to action1@aldf.org. Provide us with the name of the defendant, the county and state in which the crime occurred, the criminal charges, and a brief description of the crime. ALDF will offer free legal assistance to prosecutors after criminal charges have been filed and will advise citizens, as appropriate.

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