Florida criminal statute 843.19 Offenses against police dogs, fire dogs, SAR dogs, or police horses

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Florida Gator football player Antonio Morrison was arrested this weekend for “harassing” a police dog and resisting arrest without violence.  This was his second arrest in a month.  The other was for battery, which is a crime of violence, and he was allowed into a diversion program.  The diversion program results in criminal charges being dropped as long as you complete the conditions of the program AND DO NOT GET ARRESTED AGAIN!  This new arrest may result in the player being kicked out of the diversion program. He would then face those charges in court and have to decide whether to go to trial or plea.  A crime of violence can result in a person losing their job, not being able to rent an apartment, and in this case, getting kicked off the football team and losing his scholarship.  If you ave been arrested for a crime of violence, call an experienced Polk criminal lawyer to explain the defenses you have to such a crime.

What does it mean to harass a police dog?  Florida criminal statute 843.19 governs this crime.  A “Police dog” means any dog, and “police horse” means any horse, that is owned, or the service of which is employed, by a law enforcement agency for the principal purpose of aiding in the detection of criminal activity, enforcement of laws, or apprehension of offenders.  There is also protection for “fire dogs” and “search and rescue” (SAR) dogs.

Any person who intentionally and knowingly, without lawful cause or justification, causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or death to, or uses a deadly weapon upon, a police dog, fire dog, SAR dog, or police horse commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in Florida state prison.

Any person who actually and intentionally maliciously touches, strikes, or causes bodily harm to a police dog, fire dog, SAR dog, or police horse commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to a year in the Polk county jail.

Any person who intentionally or knowingly maliciously harasses, teases, interferes with, or attempts to interfere with a police dog, fire dog, SAR dog, or police horse while the animal is in the performance of its duties commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 60 days in the Polk jail.

A person convicted of a harassing a police dog (or any other animal listed in this section) must pay for the injuries caused to the police dog, fire dog, SAR dog, or police horse and must pay the replacement cost of the animal if, as a result of the offense, the animal can no longer perform its duties.

In this case, the football player was charged with the lowest possible criminal offense for teasing the dog. However, any criminal offense is serious and can still cost him his enrollment in school, his scholarship, and his position on the football team.  In addition, it can cause future problems in background checks when searching for a job or housing.  A video can be seen here:

http://www.thebiglead.com/index.php/2013/07/22/dashcam-video-of-antonio-morrison-arrest-for-barking-at-a-police-dog-is-as-stupid-as-youd-imagine/

There are no small crimes.  All crimes are serious and can cost you in ways you never dreamed possible.  Call and speak to an experienced Polk criminal defense attorney BEFORE you go to court!

CALL NOW AND SPEAK TO AN AGGRESSIVE POLK COUNTY CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER.

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Thomas C. Grajek  863-688-4606

 

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