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Do Pets Have the Right to Legal Representation? New Jersey Considers Law for Animal Abuse Advocates

Our laws allow people to obtain legal representation from professionals with the experience and insight needed to protect their rights, and even call for the Constitutional protection of the right to counsel in matters of criminal law. While our country has long valued the importance of having a lawyer, it hasn’t been until recently that we’ve begun to seriously debate whether animals should also have legal representation in certain matters. In New Jersey, lawmakers are considering just that.

Under recently proposed legislation, some lawmakers are looking to give abused animals a voice in court. Here are a few details:

  • If passed, the law would create a program which ensures animals victimized by abuse have the right to justice, and enable attorneys and law students to volunteer their time as legal advocates in for abused animals in court. These advocates would be responsible for things like monitoring cases, attending proceedings, and reviewing records regarding an animal’s conduction and a defendant’s conduct. They would also provide the court with information or recommendations which reflect the best interests of the animal.
  • The proposed bill comes after the state of New Jersey placed county prosecutors in charge of investigations and enforcement of animal abuse. Previously, those matters were helmed an independent organization (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
  • The measure is modeled after “Desmond’s Law,” a Connecticut state law which was passed in 2016 after an alleged animal abuser received what many viewed as a slap on the wrist.
  • Backers of the bill say it’s important to providing pets with an advocate, as many cases of animal cruelty go unaddressed by the legal system. Many supporters also believe cracking down on animal abuse is important for public safety, as they suggest those who abuse pets and other animals are more likely to harm humans.

Though it remains to be seen if New Jersey lawmakers will vote in favor of the newly introduced bill, it has gained a lot of support from animal rights advocates, attorneys, and numerous pet owners who view their animals as part of the family.

Advocates Supporting Advocates

Levinson Axelrod, P.A. has been fighting for the injured and wronged across New Jersey since 1939, and is passionate about the invaluable role we place in helping victims seek justice in the legal system. Because we value how our justice system creates an equal playing field between victims and powerful corporations, and offers real people an opportunity to be heard heard, we know the importance of providing a voice to those seeking justice. We believe animals who’ve been abused deserve that opportunity as well.

If you believe strongly in efforts like these, we encourage you to learn more and get involved yourself, or share with friends and family. As advocates, we believe in giving back and supporting others who dedicate themselves to helping others. We’re also committed to offering high quality representation in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases across the state.

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