Last week an animal control officer in Lawrence, Massachusetts responded to a call reporting that a kitten was dying at a local rooming house. The officer learned from another tenant that the accused, Edwin Hernandez might have thrown the animal at a wall after it supposedly scratched him. The witness also reported seeing Hernandez hit the kitten several times in the head. The animal control officer reported that the kitten’s face was swollen and that it was bleeding from the mouth area. Hernandez denied striking the animal. A local animal hospital examined the kitten and confirmed that hit had a suffered a broken jaw and blunt force trauma to its head. Hernandez will be summonsed for a Clerk’s Hearing.
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There are two primary animal cruelty laws in Massachusetts. The first is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 112 which makes it a felony to “willfully and maliciously” kill, disfigure or maim an animal. This crime is a felony. A conviction for this offense can result in up to five years on prison. The other law is more commonly used when charging Animal Cruelty Cases in Massachusetts. This law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 77 makes it a felony to torture or beat an animal. This law also permits a state prison sentence for up to five years. Animal cruelty cases in Massachusetts are taken quite seriously by prosecutors and judges. People do get sentenced to jail when convicted of these charges. This makes your decision of which Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer to hire an important one.
So what is going to happen to Mr. Hernandez? This depends on how the magistrate handles the allegations at the Clerk’s Hearing. If the tenant who witnessed Hernandez hit the kitten on the head appears and offers testimony against him then a complaint will most probably issue. Even if this person does not appear at the hearing, the animal control officer will provide this information to the magistrate making the likelihood of the issuance of a criminal complaint strong. Hernandez has to keep in mind that anything he might say at the Clerk’s Hearing can be used against him if the complaint issues. Not all Clerk’s Hearings are recorded however I have seen police officers take notes and prepare supplemental reports based on representations made during these proceedings. Prosecutors will use this material to help prove their case. Appearing at a Clerk’s Hearing without a lawyer is never a good idea. Too many times complaints issue in cases where had the defendant hired a lawyer no probable cause would have been established.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman has been defending people accused of all types of crimes for over twenty years. If you have to go to court you should get a lawyer. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email if you want to talk. We will protect your rights and help defend your case.