Dangerous Dog Offences – new guidelines mean harsher punishments
It has been broadly reported that under new sentencing guidelines, which come into force 1st July 2016, pet owners convicted of dangerous dog offences will face harsher punishments in England and Wales.
The guidelines cover offences where a dog injures or kills a person, where the dog injures an assistance dog or where someone possesses a banned dog breed.
The banned breeds of dogs are;
- Pit bull terriers
- Japanese tosas
- Dogo Argentinos
- Fila Brazilieros.
The guidelines have been introduced following changes to dangerous dog legislation in 2014. They are needed to provide clear guidance to the Courts to ensure when sentencing that the approach adopted is consistent, appropriate and proportionate.
The guidelines mirror the changes in the law by applying to offences that occur on private property as well as in public places. This means that an offence is committed if a guest at your home is injured by your dog or even if the postman is attacked in your front garden.
Changes in legislation have led to a significant increase to the sentence that can be imposed on those convicted of a dangerous dog offence. For example, the maximum sentence for an offence where someone is killed by a dog has increased from two to fourteen years imprisonment and for where someone is injured from two to five years imprisonment.
If you have been charged with a dangerous dog offence, our advocates in the criminal department at Emery Johnson Astills are specialists in this area. Our advocates have considerable experience in all types of advocacy including persuasive submissions to ensure that you receive the most appropriate sentence.
The guidelines are designed to deal with a variety of offending behaviour. They will cover situations ranging from a minor injuries to death. The guidelines will also cover the blameworthiness of the offender because it will vary on every case. Some owners deliberately train their dogs to be dangerous, whilst others do not and the offence is caused during a momentary lapse of control.
When a Court is sentencing an offender the guidelines provide that other factors must be considered, such as; whether an offender should be banned from keeping dogs in the future, whether an offender should have their dog taken away from them and whether an offender should be ordered to pay compensation to the victim.