U.S. House passes bill making animal cruelty a federal crime

Illinois animal lovers might be happy to learn that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that makes animal cruelty a federal crime. The measure was passed by a unanimous vote on Oct. 22.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, also known as PACT, expands on another anti-animal cruelty bill that Congress passed in 2010. That law made it illegal to create and distribute videos of animals being crushed or otherwise tortured and killed, but it did not outlaw specific acts of animal cruelty. PACT, which was sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., would close that loophole and make it a federal crime for anyone to intentionally burn, drown, impale, suffocate or otherwise harm non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians.

Deutch released a statement saying that the bill makes it clear that the U.S. does "not accept" animal cruelty. He also said that the measure received support from Americans all over the country and from all political backgrounds. A spokesperson for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals thanked the sponsors of the bill and said its approval is an important step toward obtaining federal protection for animals. The U.S. Senate must approve the measure before it can be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Federal crimes typically carry harsh penalties for defendants who are convicted. However, a criminal defense attorney could represent a defendant as he or she goes through the legal system and do everything possible to fight the charges. Depending on the details of the case, the attorney might be able to challenge the evidence and get the case dismissed. However, under some circumstances, legal counsel might advise arranging a plea deal that reduces the charges and penalties.

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