Cruelty against animals is currently a misdemeanor crime in many parts of the country. Those convicted of animal cruelty often face minor penalties, including small fines. However, some lawmakers hope to make this type of crime a felony across South Carolina and the rest of the U.S.

Two members of the House of Representatives, a Democrat and Republican, are pushing the effort to update animal cruelty laws. They proposed legislation called Preventing Animal Cruel and Torture (PACT) Act. Put forth near the end of January in 2019, the law proposes that different acts of cruelty would fall under the banner of federal crimes. Those acts include any type of sexual exploitation as well as suffocating and otherwise maiming or killing the animals.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund worked with the two congressmen to draft the proposal. There are 284 sponsors attached to the act, which has support from more than 200 law enforcement agencies and professionals across the United States. This act would work with the Animal Crush Prohibition Act of 2010, which bans the production of videos that show the intentional torture and/or death of animals.

Fighting a felony charge is much more serious than fighting a misdemeanor. In general, a felony charge will result in at least a year in prison. However, a defense attorney can help prepare a client for an upcoming felony case. In some cases, it may be wise to plead down to a lesser charge. Legal counsel could potentially negotiate with prosecutors to secure a more lenient sentence.