State v. Crosswhite

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 09-16-2015
  • Case #: A154208
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; DeVore, J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 167.325(1), an individual has "custody or control" over an animal if that individual has authority to guide or manage an animal, or direct or restrain the animal.

Defendant appeals a conviction of four counts of second-degree animal neglect, arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motion for acquittal. Over a period of about five years, Defendant frequently stayed at the home of Evans (a friend), who, together with Exendine (a third person), owned ten pit bulls, which lived at Evans' home. Defendant often took care of the dogs by refilling their food and water bowls, and breaking up fights between the dogs. The dogs frequently fought, and police officers frequently visited Evans' home, finding Defendant there routinely. One day, the neighbors heard a great commotion of the dogs fighting with shouts of encouragement from people. When confronted by the neighbors, Defendant grabbed a hammer and hit some of the dogs to break up the fight. When police arrived, many of the dogs were found with bite-mark injuries, both fresh and old. At trial, Defendant argued that, in order to be convicted under ORS 167.325(1), the State was required to show that he had "custody or control" over the dogs; on those grounds, Defendant moved for acquittal. The trial court denied. On review, the Court reviewed the statutory text and legislative history of ORS 167.325 and other animal abuse statutes to determine whether actual ownership of the dogs was necessary to show "custody or control" under ORS 167.325. The Court found that this issue had not yet been addressed, but based on equivalent statutes regarding child neglect, an individual's assertion of authority over the premises where the dogs are housed or assertion of authority to guide, manage, direct, or restrain the dog, is sufficient to show "custody or control" as necessary under ORS 167.325. Affirmed.

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