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NY Penal Law § 242.15: Harming a service animal in the first degree

Service animals are dogs and other animals that have been specially trained to assist a person who suffers from a disability. A common type of service animal is a guide dog. Such dogs assist visually impaired people navigate obstacles. Because of the important service that service animals provide, there are specific laws created to punish those who injure service animals. Under New York Penal Law § 242.15 you could be charged with harming a service dog in the first degree if you intentionally injure or kill a service animal, and you have already been convicted of harming a service animal in the second degree as defined in New York Penal Law § 242.10. A service animal is defined as an animal that has been specially trained or is in the process of being trained by a qualified person to assist someone who has a disability.


Lee spotted Leanne walking down the street with a dog. Since no one was around, Lee decided to grab Leanne's bag. When he tried to grab her bag, Leanne fell to the ground. Leanne's dog started to bark and jump. Lee kicked the dog in the head and ran away. Both Leanne and the dog suffered serious injuries. Leanne suffers from epilepsy and her dog was trained to respond in the event that Leanne has a seizure. This is bad news for Lee, who had previously been convicted of harming a service animal in the second degree. Because of his previous conviction, for injuring Leanne's dog Lee could be prosecuted for harming a service dog in the first degree under New York Penal Law § 252.15.

Related Offense
  1. Interference, harassment, or intimidation of a service animal: New York Penal Law § 242.05

In order for you to be found guilty of harming a service animal, the animal that you are accused of injuring must be a service animal as defined by New York Penal Law § 242.00(1). If the animal has not been trained as a service animal, or if the training was not completed by a qualified person, then you would not be guilty of harming a service animal.


Harming a service animal in the first degree is a class E felony. This means that if you are convicted your sentence may include a prison term of up to 4 years, a probation term of 5 years, payment of restitution and payment of a fine.

New York Penal Law § 242.15: Harming a service animal in the first degree

A person is guilty of harming a service animal in the first degree when, he or she commits the crime of harming a service animal in the second degree, and has been convicted of harming a service animal in the first or second degree within the prior five years.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been charged with harming a service animal in the first degree, it is important that you immediately contact someone with experience. If you are convicted you could land in prison for up 4 years. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors in violation of New York state law and federal law. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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