People in New Jersey can be charged for animal cruelty crimes if they grossly neglect, torture or abuse animals. The Federal Bureau of Investigation started collecting detailed information about animal cruelty in its National Incident-Based Reporting System on Jan. 1. Now, acts of animal cruelty will be counted individually rather than lumped into the 'All Other Offenses" category.
A spokesperson for the Bureau's Criminal Statistics Management Unit said that the FBI wanted to start counting animal cruelty crimes because they are often precursors to other crimes that are sometimes more serious. People who hurt animals may also hurt people, according to the National Sheriffs' Association, a group that advocated for collecting animal cruelty crimes on the FBI database. Some of the examples that were cited by the National Sheriffs' Association are infamous serial killers who tortured animals in their youth like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.
The NIBRS collects crime data from 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the country. Right now, the NIBRS only represents around 31 percent of them, but more agencies may opt into the system over the next couple years. James Comey, the current FBI director, said that he is striving to collect more accurate data that can be used to keep people informed about important issues.
A person who has been accused of some type of animal cruelty may find it advisable to meet as soon as possible with a criminal defense attorney. The criminal law process can be complex, and an attorney is likely to be better-equipped to construct a viable defense strategy for use before or during a trial.