I've Been Charged in a Dog Bite Case. What Does This Mean for Me and My Dog?

Many of my clients are dog lovers, and occasionally I receive a call from someone who has been charged under Virginia Code Section 3.2-6540 for a dog bite incident. These charges can be devastating for several reasons. Not only do they carry the possibility of jail time under certain circumstances, but they can result in the animal being put down. For these reasons, you must hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney to ensure that both you, and your dog, are spared.

Dog bite cases can result in the animal being classified as either a "dangerous dog" or a "vicious dog." The difference between the two is literally a matter of life and death. A dog found to be a "dangerous dog" must be registered as such with animal control and wear a special tag indicating this status. The owner of such an animal must periodically re-register the dog, and must maintain certain standards of enclosure in their yard, as well as signage warning others that the animal has been labeled "dangerous." In addition, the owner must maintain at least a $100,000 insurance policy against potential dog bites, or in the alternative must post a bond in the same amount as surety against such an attack.

These restrictions may seem severe, but they are far better than the determination that an animal is a "vicious dog." Any dog so designated shall be summarily euthanized by the local animal control agency.

Obviously, if your dog is involved in an attack on a person or another domestic animal, it is critical to get proper aggressive representation. Your pet's life may depend on it.

In addition, there are potential criminal penalties for the owners of "dangerous dogs" who engage in subsequent attacks after such designation. The owner of a dangerous dog that attacks another dog or cat will be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail. The owner of a dangerous dog that bites a human will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail. If the dangerous dog's attack is the result of the owner's "reckless disregard for human life" and results in serious bodily injury, the owner will be charged with a Class 6 felony, resulting in one to five years in the state penitentiary.

As you can see, the stakes are quite high in dog bite cases. Not only is the owner's freedom at risk, the family pet's very life is in danger. If you are facing these types of charges, call us right away. We love dogs too, and we're ready to fight for yours!

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