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Animal Welfare: Sentencing

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL2896, tabled on 22 October 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance is provided to magistrates and judges about when it is appropriate to apply the maximum tariff available in cases of animal cruelty.

Answered on

2 November 2015

Animal cruelty is a summary offence with a maximum penalty of a level 5 (unlimited) fine and/or 6 months’ imprisonment. The maximum penalty for any offence is set by Parliament to deal with the most serious possible cases. Guidance on sentencing for this offence is contained in the Magistrates’ Courts Sentencing Guidelines, which are published by the independent Sentencing Council.

These are the sentencing starting points from the guidelines for animal cruelty, based on a first time offender pleading not guilty:

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point Range


One impulsive act causing little or no injury;

short term neglect

Band C fine Band B fine to medium level community

Several incidents of deliberate ill-treatment/frightening

High level community order

Medium level community order to 12 weeks custody

Attempt to kill/torture; animal baiting/conducting or permitting cock-fighting etc.; prolonged neglect

18 weeks custody

12 to 26 weeks custody