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What Are the Penalties for Stealing an Animal?

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. | Last updated on

When people have a pet, it's usually just as important as any other member of the family. If someone steals a pet, the owners can be left feeling like a family member has been kidnapped, and will likely want to pursue as severe a punishment as possible for the animal thief.

While kidnapping is treated as a serious crime with severe penalties, you may be wondering what the penalties are for stealing an animal. Well, as it is for most crimes, the penalties for stealing an animal or pet will depend on the state laws where the pet theft occurs.

How Are the Penalties for Stealing an Animal Determined?

There are some states that specifically address the theft of an animal. In these states, the charges and penalties are usually provided in the statute. For example, Michigan has a statute specifically making it illegal to steal or confine a licensed dog. The penalty for conviction under this statute is imprisonment in county jail for 60 to 90 days and/or a fine of $50 to $100.

In states where animal theft is not specifically addressed, stealing an animal is usually encompassed within the state's theft or larceny laws. In these states, the penalties and sentencing for theft are usually determined based on the value of the property that has been stolen. And while pet owners don't like it, pets are considered personal property under the law. Previous convictions can also play a factor when determining the penalties for stealing an animal.

If you've been arrested for stealing an animal, it's a good idea to contact a local criminal defense attorney who can explain the laws of your state and the possible penalties for being convicted of pet theft.

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