Eight cows, including four calves, mysteriously went missing from Polk County, Florida in April of this year from a Lakeland pasture. The cows, with a combined value of approximately $7,200, are still being searched for as the investigation continues. However, two more stolen calves, with a value of $4,000, were recently recovered after a good Samaritan gave a tip to detectives. The previously eight mentioned stolen cows and calves had been sold at an auction, and multiple men were arrested and confessed to the crime. In fact, a total of six young men have been arrested and charged with a variety of crimes, according to ABC 8 News. Charges include felony grand theft of livestock, dealing in stolen property, and confining an animal without sufficient food and water. More individuals are being investigated as potential accomplices to the “Bovine Bandits.”
Grand Theft of the Third Degree
As per Florida statute 812.014, third degree grand theft, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000, includes the theft of things such as:
- A stop sign;
- A construction sign;
- A firearm;
- A motor vehicle
- A fire extinguisher;
- 2,000 pieces of fruit or more;
- Any property that is valued between $300 and $19,999; or
- Any commercially farmed animal.
However, a fine of $10,000, not $5,000, can be imposed if a commercial animal is stolen. A commercially farmed animal includes any equine, bovine, swine, or grazing class of animal, bee colonies of a registered beekeeper, and aquaculture animals if owned by a certified aquaculture facility.
Cruelty to Animals
The manner in which the two recovered calves were detained constituted cruelty to animals, under Florida statute 828.12. The following is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $5,000:
- Unnecessarily overloading; overdriving; tormenting; depriving of food, water or shelter; mutilating, or unnecessarily killing an animal in a cruel or inhuman manner.
If a person intentionally commits an unnecessary act of cruelty to an animal and death results, or if that person has an animal in custody and does not intervene in the abuse, they will be charged with a third degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The two calves had their legs bound together with duct tape, were confined in a small space, and were deprived of food and water.
Unlawful Detention of an Animal
Under Florida statute 828.13, unlawful confinement of an animal, which is also a first degree misdemeanor, includes:
- Impounding or confining an animal without a sufficient quantity of “good and wholesome food and water;”
- Keeping an animal in an enclosure without “wholesome exercise and change of air;” and
- Lets an animal die because it is maimed, sick, infirm, or diseased.
Call a West Palm Beach Attorney at Once
If you have been charged with animal cruelty or third degree grand theft of any variety, contact the Skier Law Firm today at (561) 220-3355. Our West Palm Beach attorneys are eager to assist you with your case.