Robin Fuson
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Is A Dog Considered A Weapon In Florida?

Criminal Defense

When we think of laws involving our dogs, we may be reminded of leash laws, animal protection laws, and even laws about posting signs to warn people that a dog is on our property. We rarely assume that a dog can be considered a weapon, but it is possible if the dog was used in the commission of a crime.

Dogs are our companions, our pets, our protection, and sometimes our livelihood. We know dogs are very intelligent and they can be easily trained to serve their masters. However, if the dog owner has illegal plans and they use their dog to carry them out, is the dog a weapon?

The laws on what constitutes a weapon in Tampa are broad. There is a logical reason for that. While we all know a gun, knife, or bat can be a deadly weapon, in the wrong hands a household item can also become a weapon, like a pan, hammer, or insecticide. So, when a dog owner trains and uses their dog to commit a crime, the courts are compelled to view them as a weapon because dogs can be taught aggression. The police and military have trained dogs for years to subdue and intimidate people they are hunting. The same is true for some people who teach their dogs to attack on command.

When a dog owner uses their animal to commit a crime, the dog can be considered a weapon. Dogs can cause significant damage to someone with their teeth, body weight, and paws. A dog attack can even be deadly.

Assault and Battery Charges For Dog Owners

In the past, the court has charged dog owners with crimes for using their dogs as weapons. If evidence demonstrates the attack was provoked by the owner’s commands to harm or intimidate a victim, then the accused can be charged with using their dog as a weapon. An example of this would be giving your dog a “sic” command to growl or attack someone during an assault, robbery, rape, or other serious crime.

The use of a dog can escalate the owner’s charges to a felony aggravated assault if the victim feels as if they were in danger. For example, if the dog was commanded to bite someone, the charges can easily become aggravated battery.

Does the breed of the dog matter?

Unfortunately, any breed of dog can be trained to be vicious and aggressive. Certain breeds, like Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, are considered more aggressive than other breeds because of their association with criminal behavior today. Pit Bulls are typically associated with horrific attacks on children and adults. In 2016, incidents of crime involving Pit Bulls had doubled. These breeds receive more scrutiny than other types of dogs because of the fear associated with them, which makes them ideal animals for people involved in illegal activity.

For their own protection and the protection of their animal, aperson being charged with using their dog as a weapon should seek immediate legal help from a Tampa assault and battery attorney. It is crucial to protect yourself from an assault or battery conviction.

Robin Fuson
By Robin Fuson