After finding out your dog is being investigated, your first step is to remove it from the current jurisdiction and contact an attorney. If your dog has already been impounded, you need to pay the impoundment fees and take the steps required by the jurisdiction in which you reside. Each process is specific to the state, municipality, or county. Contact an attorney experienced in this area to navigate the next steps in your case.
Once your dog is impounded, you may try to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney to have your dog released to your home with specific dangerous dog stipulated provisions, such as an escape proof enclosure and muzzle when in public. Another alternative is to have the dog transferred to licensed facility such as a veterinarian’s office or boarding and training facility. Always remember that if you speak to a prosecuting attorney directly, anything you say to them may be used against you later. This is why it is very important to have an attorney represent you at this stage.
If the Animal Control and the prosecuting attorney are unwilling to release or transfer your dog, you may request an impound hearing in front of the judge. The procedure for requesting and conducting these hearings differ between jurisdictions. It is important that you understand your rights and potential consequences at these hearings.
If your dog is impounded and deemed dangerous, the dog will be kept in a kennel and could be potentially euthanized without a specific court order to keep the dog alive. However, you may appeal the decision and must timely follow the specific procedure that varies between jurisdictions. Another thing that you can do is to request that your veterinarian examine the dog or have a dog expert evaluate the dog while it is impounded. This could be important if that dog has been in a fight and has sustained injuries that need to be documented or if your dog does not exhibit any dangerous behavior or tendencies. You may also have an affirmative defense to the dog bite, such as provocation. It is important to speak to an attorney that understands and is familiar with these cases and defenses.
Additional Information On Dog Bite Cases In Colorado
Dog bite cases are very fact specific, like many criminal cases. However, most criminal attorneys do not understand the nuances of dog bite and dangerous dog cases. One of those particular nuances is whether or not bodily injury or serious bodily injury occurred. If there is serious bodily injury, almost all convictions require euthanasia. Many people think that there are two strikes for a dog to bite, which may be the case under the state statute if there is no serious bodily injury. However, a first bite that is considered to cause serious bodily injury requires relinquishment/euthanasia on a first bite. Further, not all municipalities have a two-strike provision. It depends on how you are charged to determine your ability to keep the dog after the incident.
While the definition of “serious bodily injury” and “bodily injury” may determine whether your dog lives or dies, most criminal defense attorneys do not realize that in most jurisdictions, a different definition of “bodily injury” is used from the rest of the criminal code. Under the state statute and most municipalities, “bodily injury” is defined as any physical injury that results in severe bruising, muscle tears, or skin lacerations requiring professional medical treatments or any physical damage that requires corrective or cosmetic surgery. This definition is very important because the definition of “Bodily Injury” under the standard state criminal statute is only defined as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition. “Serious bodily injury” is defined as either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, involves a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree. These overlapping definitions for dog bite cases may also implicate equal protection rights.
Misunderstanding the definition of bodily injury can make a difference in keeping your dog alive.
For more information on Preventing Your Dog From Being Euthanized, a free 30 minute consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (720) 943-6606 today.
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