OCEAN TOWNSHIP – State Senator Vin Gopal, D-Long Branch announced today that he will introduce legislation to upgrade animal cruelty penalties for offenders who commit extreme violence against an animal.
Currently, violence against animals is considered aggravated cruelty, which is a fourth degree crime. If an animal dies, suffers “serious bodily injury,” or the abuser has previously been convicted of animal cruelty, that penalty rises to a third degree crime. There is no presumption of incarceration for either offense.
Gopal’s bill will make extreme cruelty that maims or results in the death of an animal a second degree offense.
“There is a case pending in my district, in Asbury Park, were a man is accused of torturing, raping and killing his pet cat,” Gopal said. “The case highlights that our animal cruelty laws weren’t designed to deal with this level of violence. Anyone who could commit the acts described in this case needs extensive help and should be held accountable for their actions. It is important that we give our prosecutors the tools needed to address these offenders in the proper way.”
The judge in that case found that all of the evidence indicated “a depravity of the mind that goes far beyond animal cruelty.”
“We agree with the judge that this type of extreme animal cruelty demonstrates a level of antisocial behavior that poses the most serious risk and danger to humans,” Gopal said. “We need to pass legislation that increases the penalty for extreme animal cruelty to recognize what the courts have recognized, that there is a link between people who abuse animals and people who abuse humans.”
Senator Vin Gopal serves as Senate Majority Conference Leader and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Elected in 2018, a lifelong resident of Monmouth County, Senator Gopal represents residents of Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbor, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Township, and West Long Branch in the State Senat