Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Friday, 24 May 2024 12:02

Serious Animal Cruelty Charge in Queensland

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Serious Animal Cruelty Charge

It is an offence in Queensland to intentionally inflict serious injury or suffering on an animal, or to unlawfully kill animal. 


What does the law say?

  • A person who, with the intention of inflicting severe pain or suffering, unlawfully kills, or causes serious injuryor prolonged suffering to, an animal commits a crime.


Maximum penalty—7 years imprisonment.

"serious injurymeans—

  1. (a) the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
  2. (b) a bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would—
    1. endanger, or be likely to endanger, life; or
    2. cause, or be likely to cause, permanent injury to health.


What does the Prosecution have to prove?

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (see our article on reasonable doubt here) the following elements to succeed in a prosecution for this offence:

  1. the defendant killed or caused serious injury or prolonged suffering to an animal; and

  2. the defendant did so with the intention of inflicting severe pain or suffering; and

  3. that the act or omission by the defendant which caused the death, or serious injury, or prolonged suffering to an animal was unlawful.

For this offence, intention is a critical element of the offence. Intention at in the context of criminal law takes its ordinary meaning, that is something that was planned or desired to be carried out.  Intention may be inferred or deduced from the circumstances of the offence, the defendants conduct before, during and after the alleged specified acts and critically anything they said about their goal or ideas.


Are there any defences?

At law there are a wide range of defences to criminal charges, however not every defence3 is available to every charge. Examination of available defences depends on the context of the alleged offending, examples that may be available are:

  • Duress;

  • Identity;

  • Intention – Where the prosecution cannot prove the defendant intended to commit the offence;

  • Honest and reasonable mistake of fact;

  • Lawful authority; and

  • Self-defence (such as when defending oneself another from an animal)


What court will hear my case?

This offence is a strictly indictable offence, meaning that it will commence in the Magistrates Court and proceed through a committal and then be delt with in the District Court.


What does this charge look like?

Charges of serious animal cruelty come about in various ways, from the very public cases where greyhound trainers have been charged for using live baiting practices, through to deliberate abuse of animals including through neglect and mistreatment.



The penalties for a charge of serious animal cruelty are wide, and range from a fine up to periods of actual imprisonment. Each case turns on its own facts, and the penalty the court imposes will depend heavily on a number of factors, including but not limited to the extent of the cruelty, the circumstances of the case, the defendants antecedents and any remorse.


Do I need a lawyer?

Do not attempt to represent yourself in court on a serious animal cruelty charge. The matter is strictly indictable, and you will need to navigate the complex court processes that occur to take a matter from the summary jurisdiction to the District Court.   Based on the seriousness of the offending, including if other associated offences are charge, engaging an experienced criminal lawyer will help you get the best available outcome.  If the court records a conviction against you, it may affect your ability to travel internationally and to gain employment.



This article is by no means a complete breakdown of the serious offence of Serious Animal Cruelty. This article serves to give a person an understanding of the offence. This  is not a matter where you should attempt to undertake it yourself. If you require advice about this type of matter, feel free to contact Clarity Law for an obligation free consultation.


Engaging Clarity Law to act for you

Engaging us gives you the best chance at trying to avoid serving time in prison.   We are one of the leading criminal law firms in South East Queensland.  Just some of the benefits of us acting for you include:

  1. we know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome

  2. we have good relationships with the prosecutors meaning we can often have them not seek an actual prison sentence

  3. we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible

  4. engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously

  5. you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court

  6. unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests


How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further free information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

  3. Click here to select a time for us to have a free 15 minute telephone conference with you

  4. Email the firms founder on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  5. Click the help button at the bottom right and leave us a message

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide free initial information to assist you. If you want to engage us then great, we will give you a fixed price for our services so you will know with certainty what we will cost. All the money goes into a trust account monitored by the Queensland Law Society and cannot be taken out without your permission or until we are legally allowed to.

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Jack Marshall

Jack is a former soldier and now a criminal defence lawyer with Clarity Law. He helps clients navigate the court process and get the best results.