A transient man has recently been charged with animal cruelty after beating an elephant seal pup to death on a San Diego beach. His Pacific Beach defense lawyer argues that the man thought he was helping to put an injured seal out of its misery. Here’s what you should know about this case.
First, the man’s defense does have some merit as elephant seals are rare in San Diego and their vocalizations (especially while young) sound like distress calls to the uninitiated. “It was like a baby screaming. It was horrible,” a witness said. So there is every possibility that the defendant actually did think he was trying to help.
Unfortunately for the defendant and his criminal attorney in Mission Beach, even if the animal were suffering, there were other things he could have done to help. Prosecutors point out that the man had a cell phone and could have called animal control or Sea World to help the creature. Additionally, a marine biologist who ran the autopsy pointed out that the animal was bashed in the head at least seven times with a rock and was still alive when the defendant stopped his attack -meaning even if the animal was crying out in pain, the defendant left it suffering even worse.
While animal cruelty charges are usually filed as misdemeanors, this high-profile case will be charged as a felony -meaning the defendant could face up to eight years in prison. With these high stakes, it is likely the man’s Ocean Beach defense attorney will try to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecution, but chances are that he will spend at least a little time behind bars.
If you encounter an injured wild animal, it is almost always advisable to call animal control before attempting to anything yourself. If you are charged with animal cruelty or any other criminal offense, it is always advisable to contact a La Jolla criminal lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.
Creative Commons Image by Anita Ritenour