Protesters Demand "Justice for Indy" in Van Nuys Animal Cruelty Case

More than 100 protesters gathered in front of the Van Nuys courthouse on Tuesday morning, where a man was facing a hearing in an animal cruelty case. The animal rights activists called for "Justice for Indy," the young pit bull the man allegedly left for dead in a Winnetka alley last summer.

The suspect in the case, a 41-year-old North Hollywood man, has been charged with one count of animal cruelty. He has been accused of pulling the badly burned dog from the bed of his truck and abandoning him in an alley between Kittridge and Hamlin streets in Winnetka on July 4, 2013. According to authorities, a good Samaritan saw the dog and took him home for the night before bringing him to an animal shelter, where he was then placed in the care of veterinarians. The pit bull had abrasions and burns on both sides of his chest, rear legs and all four paws, though the source of these injuries is not officially known.

According to the prosecution, there is currently no evidence of what caused the dog's injuries, though one theory is that fireworks were strapped to his body and subsequently set off. The suspect is therefore being charged in relation to the alleged abandonment of the severely injured animal. He is set to appear in court again on June 18 when a date for a preliminary hearing should be set. The suspect is currently out on $30,000 bail and faces up to 4 years in county jail if convicted.

Animal Cruelty Charges in California

Animal cruelty cases are taken very seriously by law enforcement and prosecutors throughout California, with or without the involvement of protesters, who garner media attention and put additional pressure on prosecutors to seek a conviction and maximum penalties. When a person is charged with abusing, neglecting or otherwise mistreating an animal, is it important to seek legal counsel. These cases can escalate quickly, damaging one's reputation, personal and professional relationships and even threatening one's employment or business opportunities.

A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with defending clients against animal cruelty charges can offer experienced guidance that can help with the media, animal rights activists and of course law enforcement personnel and prosecuting attorneys. In their zeal to protect defenseless animals, these parties may sometimes make false or exaggerated claims, or claims that they believe to be true but that are actually based on misinformation.

Depending on the severity of the alleged offense, animal cruelty may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. Penalties may range from time in county jail all the way to 16 months or 2-3 years in state prison. These penalties may vary, however, as is evidenced in the above case and the potential 4-year jail sentence the suspect may face. Additional penalties may include having the animal removed from the defendant's care, restitution to pay for medical expenses and housing the animal and court-ordered counseling. Legislators have even pushed for laws that would require those convicted of animal abuse to register with law enforcement, similar to the registry that is required for sex offenders.

To protect your future and freedom, you need to act quickly in the face of animal cruelty charges. At Lessem & Newstat, our criminal defense attorneys have tried more than 200 cases and have secured hundreds of dismissals on behalf of our clients. We fight tirelessly, with professionalism and an aggressive yet strategic approach that helps us secure the best possible outcome in every case we handle. Call today to see how we can help with your case.