What are Dangerous Dog Offences ?

Under the Companion Animals Act there is a maximum penalty of $11,000 for owners of dogs that rush at, attack, bite, harass or chase an animal (other than vermin) whether or not any injury is caused.

  • The owner can be prosecuted even if not present when the incident occurred.
  • The penalty increases to four times the normal amount, a whopping $44,000 in the case of a menacing, dangerous or restricted dog.
  • The court can disqualify you from owning a dog for a period of time, even if you do not receive a conviction.

The Law

16(1AA) Dog attacks resulting from owner’s conduct

The maximum penalty increases to $22,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment where the ‘attack’ resulted from a ‘reckless act or omission’ by the owner, or by a person in charge of the dog.

16(1AB) Attacks by menacing, dangerous or restricted dogs

The maximum penalty in the case of dangerous or restricted dogs is $55,000 and/or 4 years imprisonment.

Restricted or Dangerous dogs include (as per section 55 of the Act):

(a) American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier,

(b) Japanese tosa,

(c) dogo Argentino,

(d) fila Brasileiro,

(d1) any other dog of a breed, kind or description whose importation into Australia is prohibited by or under the Customs Act 1901 of the Commonwealth,

(e) any dog declared by an authorised officer of a council under Division 6 of this Part to be a restricted dog,

(f) any other dog of a breed, kind or description prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this section.

Section 23(1)(a) says that any conviction or finding of guilt means that the owner must be permanently disqualified from owning a dog. This means that the dog will be seized, and the owner will not be able to get it back. Your dog may also be destroyed.

16(1A) Attacks by menacing, dangerous or restricted dogs that result from owner’s conduct

The maximum penalty increases to $77,000 if an attack by a dog from the above category is a result of the owner’s failure to comply with the ‘control requirements’ under section 51 or 56 of the Act.

Those requirements include keeping the dog in an approved enclosure unless muzzled and leashed in the case of a dangerous dog or enclosed in a manner that is sufficient to restrain the dog and prevent a child from accessing it in the case of a menacing dog that is not under the effective control of an adult.

Section 17: Encouraging dog to attack

17(1) Encouraging a dog to attack generally

There is a maximum penalty of $22,000 for anyone who ‘sets on or urges a dog’ to attack, bite, harass or chase any person or animal (other than vermin). You may also be disqualified from owning a dog.

17(1A) Encouraging a menacing, dangerous or restricted dog

The maximum penalty increases to $77,000 and/or 5 years imprisonment where the person encourages a dog from the above category.

Any guilty person must be permanently disqualified from owning a dog.

If you have received a ‘Notice of Intention to Declare Dog Dangerous’, you have 7 days to send a ‘Letter of Objection’ to Council.

Appealing Against Dangerous Dog Declarations

An appeal can be made against a Dangerous Dog Declaration:

(a) to the Local Court within 28 days after the Declaration is made; or

(b) to the Council more than 12 months after the Declaration is made.

Negotiating ‘Undertakings’ or ‘Control Orders’

‘Undertakings’ and ‘Control Orders’ are rules that a particular dog owner must follow. They are much less strict than Dangerous Dog Declarations.

‘Undertakings’ can be negotiated with Council before a Dangerous Dog Declaration comes into effect. They can persuade Council not to go ahead with the Declaration.

‘Control Orders’ can be negotiated after a Dangerous Dog Declaration is made. They can result in Council agreeing to ‘revoke’ (cancel) the Declaration.

A particular set of ‘Undertakings’ or ‘Control Orders’ may, for example, require that:

(1) your dog must always be leashed when in public,

(2) your dog must be trained by a qualified dog trainer within 3 months, and

(3) the fencing at your home must be adequate to prevent your dog from escaping.

‘Destruction Orders’

A ‘destruction order’ is an order for a pet to be ‘destroyed’. The Companion Animals Act states that a ‘destruction order’ can be made if a person is convicted of any of the following offences:

Section 16 – dog attack,

Section 17 – encourage to attack

Section 49 – fail to comply with Control Order or Destruction Order

Section 51 – owner of dangerous dog that does not comply with ‘control requirements’

Section 56 – owner of restricted dog that does not comply with control requirements, or

Section 35A of the Crimes Act NSW (1900) – causing dog to inflict grievous bodily harm or actual bodily harm

If you are charged with Dangerous Dog Offences what are your options?

National Criminal Lawyers have been successful in defending a number of Dangerous Dog Offences charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of Dangerous Dog Offences.

NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with Dangerous Dog Offences;

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.

Fequently Asked Questions

Why National Criminal Lawyers?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:

1. Your best chance to get the result you’re after

We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

2. How a Senior Defence Lawyer Can Help You Deal With Criminal Charges

No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with any Dangerous Dog Offences offence our Team at National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.

Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.

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