KY Animal Cruelty Defense Lawyer

There’s no denying that cases of animal cruelty are emotionally charged, especially those that involve domestic animals like cats or dogs. It can be hard for prosecutors, judges, and juries to separate their emotions from the duties assigned to them under the legal process.

Aggressive prosecution of suspected animal abusers is firmly supported by the general public, who feel they must speak for the voiceless victims. If you have been charged with animal cruelty, having an experienced attorney who is familiar with the facts of your case and knowledgeable about the law is imperative.

Whether you are under investigation for this crime or are already facing charges, it is important to discuss your situation with a skilled Kentucky defense lawyer. Based in Lexington, criminal defense attorney Dan Carman represents clients facing animal cruelty charges throughout the state in communities such as Fayette County, Winchester, Georgetown, Versailles, Richmond, and Nicholasville. Dan is dedicated to helping those who find themselves struggling with serious criminal accusations and provides competent legal representation to ensure that you get the best possible result under the circumstances of your case.

Get started with a free initial consultation by using the convenient online inquiry form or calling 859-685-1055.

Animal cruelty in Kentucky

Animal protection laws in the Bluegrass State are somewhat lacking when compared to the rest of the nation. For example, some states have increased penalties for repeat abusers or animal hoarders, include animals in domestic violence protective orders, or allow courts to order forfeiture of abused animals. While Kentucky has none of those provisions, the legislature is moving toward expanding animal cruelty laws. As of 2016, Kentucky was the only state in the country that did not have an enforceable bill against dog fighting. That changed in April when Governor Bevin signed HB 428, which amends an existing law, and makes any person who knowingly owns, possesses, keeps, breeds, trains, sells or otherwise transfers a dog, for the purpose of that dog, or its offspring, (to be) used to fight for pleasure or profit, guilty of cruelty in the first degree, a Class D felony.

Cruelty to animals in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor, addresses instances of intentional cruel or injurious mistreatment through abandonment, mutilation, beating, torture, torment, or failure to provide certain basic necessities.

It also includes provisions regarding neglect and poisoning. Torture of a dog or cat is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for each subsequent offense if the dog or cat suffers physical injury as a result of the torture, and a Class D felony if the dog or cat suffers serious physical injury or death as a result of the torture. As used in the statute, “torture” mean the intentional infliction of or subjection to extreme physical pain or injury, motivated by an intent to increase or prolong the pain of the animal. There are also prohibitions against assaulting a service animal.


The penalty that can be imposed for a Class A misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $500. For a Class D felony, a defendant can be sentenced to between one and five years in prison, and to pay a fine between $1,000 and $10,000.


Every criminal charge turns on the unique circumstances of the case, which is why you need an experienced and effective KY animal cruelty lawyer by your side. One common defense is that the necessary intent was not present. When considering an animal cruelty charge, a Kentucky trier of fact must ask whether the action was intentional or done knowingly in accordance with the wording of the statute. Another valid defense is that the animal is not covered by the statute that is charged. The laws do not apply to all animals. Creative defense arguments can also involve elements of mistake, double jeopardy, insanity, duress and procedural issues.

We Can Help

An advocate in your corner who will thoroughly review and investigate the factual and the legal issues in your case can make all the difference. From Kentucky misdemeanors to felonies and federal charges, the Lexington-based Carman Law Firm will assess the strength of the case against you, explore any possible defenses and represent your best interests each step of the way. Attorney Dan Carman provides aggressive and comprehensive criminal defense representation, and has been admitted to practice in all Kentucky state courts, the federal courts in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, and the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. His wide-ranging experience from when he served in the United States Marine Corps as defense counsel, prosecutor, legal assistance attorney, and in-house counsel for an infantry battalion gives him valuable insight into both sides of the legal process. From your initial consultation through the final resolution, you can always expect honest and reliable feedback regarding the direction of your case. Contact us today by calling 859-685-1055 or by filling out this online form.

Attorney Dan Carman

Attorney Dan CarmanFocusing on criminal matters, Mr. Carman is admitted to practice law in all Courts of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, and the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. He is a member of the American, Kentucky, and Fayette County Bar Associations. Mr. Carman also worked as a prosecutor, as well as a legal assistance attorney. Attorney Dan Carman can help you with any criminal defense matters you may need including; DUI, drug, and weapons charges, trespassing, traffic violations and more. [ Attorney Bio ]