Aggravated Animal Cruelty

In Victoria, aggravated animal cruelty carries a maximum penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment or 500 penalty units. In the case of a company (body corporate) the maximum penalty is 1,200 penalty units.

The Offence of Aggravated Animal Cruelty

The offence of aggravated animal cruelty is contained in section 10 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 which states:

A person who commits an act or acts of cruelty on any animal, which results in the death or serious disablement of the animal, commits aggravated cruelty on that animal and is guilty of an offence and is liable to a penalty of not more than, in the case of a natural person, 500 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years or, in the case of a body corporate, 1200 penalty units.

What Actions Might Constitute Animal Cruelty?

The following acts may read to a charge of animal cruelty.

  • Failing to feed a domestic dog and the dog dies;
  • Packing too many horses onto a truck and a number of the horses are seriously injured to the extent they need to be put down;
  • Poisoning a pond and causing fish to die.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of aggravated animal cruelty, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you either wounded, mutilated, tortured, overrode, overdrove, overworked, abused, beat, worried, tormented, terrified, abandoned, poisoned or caused the unreasonable suffering;
  • Of an animal;
  • You were the owner of the animal or the person in charge of the animal; and,
  • The act of cruelty resulted in the death or serious disablement of the animal.

Possible Defences for Aggravated Animal Cruelty

A person charged with aggravated animal cruelty may defend the charge by arguing:

  • The accused did not care for the animal because they had entered into an agreement with another person by which the other person had agreed to care for the animal;
  • The accused acted under duress;
  • The accused acted reasonably or reasonably omitted to do an act in defending themselves or any other person against an animal or against any threat of attack by an animal.

Which Court Will Hear the Matter?

This is a summary matter and will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.



If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


Armstrong Legal
Social Rating
Based on 284 reviews
Legal Hotline.
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223