Tougher sentencing guidelines for those convicted of dangerous dogs offences have been published today.
They include significantly longer maximum prison sentences for cases where someone is killed or seriously injured.
The Sentencing Council Guidelines, which have been updated to reflect changes to legislation in 2014, also encompass attacks on assistance dogs, taking into account both the harm suffered by the dog and the potential impact on the owner.
In addition, there is further guidance for cases where someone possesses a banned breed, such as a pit bull terrier or a Japanese tosa.
The Guidelines stress the importance of considering whether an offender should be banned from keeping dogs, have dogs taken away from them, and be ordered to pay compensation to the victim.
The changes will come into force in courts in England and Wales from 1 July 2016.
Today’s sentencing guidelines incorporate an increase in the maximum sentence for an offence where someone is killed by a dangerous dog from two years to 14 years, and an increase in the maximum sentence for an offence where someone is injured from two years to five.
The level of blame attributed to the dog’s owner can vary considerably between cases. The severity of the sentence will differ significantly between incidents that were the result of a momentary lapse of control by an otherwise responsible owner and those who deliberately train their pet to be dangerous.
Amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act in 2014 extended the law to include attacks that happen on private property.
The Guidelines cover cases of minor injuries, for instance those caused by a nip, to more serious attacks that are either fatal or leave the victim in a serious condition.
How can Gotelee help?
If you have been charged of a dangerous dog offence, our team of criminal law solicitors can help. Call them on 01473 298141 or email [email protected]