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South Carolina man pleads guilty to animal cruelty

A 61-year-old South Carolina man recently plead guilty to one count of animal cruelty and was sentenced to a year in prison for watching a dog fight. In 2011, the man was one of five people arrested in relation to an alleged dog fighting ring. It is not clear whether or not he had hired a criminal defense attorney.

This defendant turned himself in after the raid. Police also arrested four other men, ranging from their early twenties to early thirties. One of the other four men is accused of trying to run over a police officer with a vehicle in addition to dog fighting charges.

None of the dogs were put down. All were either adopted or sent to shelters.

When the state brings charges against a person, it may enter into plea negotiations in order to more quickly and efficiently resolve the case. A plea negotiation allows both the state and the defendant the opportunity to avoid a long drawn-out criminal trial that could end unpredictably. Generally, plea negotiations involve the state agreeing to pursue lesser charges against the defendant on the condition that the defendant pleads guilty to those lesser charges.

Here, the defendant was initially charged with three felony dog-fighting counts and five more related counts. It is unclear why the state ended up only pursuing one count of animal cruelty. It could be that the state did not have a solid case and felt it would have been unable to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. But it is also distinctly possible that the parties reached a plea agreement.

Source: The State, "61-year-old pleads guilty to animal cruelty in dog-fighting ring," R. Darren Price, Jan. 31, 2012

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