The ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy department provides expert legal assistance to prosecutors, police and cruelty investigators around the country to help ensure successful prosecution of animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. The department provides “second chair” legal support through the coordination of legal and other expert services vital to the effective handling of animal cruelty prosecutions. Legal Advocacy also serves as legislative counsel to the Government Relations department, a large part of which is providing legal analysis of proposed animal-related legislation.

The legal assistance provided to prosecutors and law enforcement officials includes:

  • Providing legal guidance to prosecutors and investigators on relevant animal cruelty laws and procedures, drafting motions, jury instructions, bonding/forfeiture petitions, appellate briefs and other legal documents;
  • Connecting prosecutors and investigators to resources integral to success in the criminal case, including forensic, behavioral and legal experts;
  • Identifying cases likely to impact large numbers of animals or with potential for significant legislative change in the field; and
  • Intervening as amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) in appropriate cases.

In cases with the potential to significantly improve legal protections for companion animals, the Legal Advocacy department will bring legal proceedings corollary to the criminal prosecution including writs, declaratory judgments and petitions for injunctive relief, and will initiate or support civil litigation on the state and federal level to promote those heightened legal protections.