Prosecutors Charge Man for Crime That Doesn’t Exist
Article from Reason by Joe Setyon.
The New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office didn’t drop animal cruelty charges against Michael Hinson because they realized treating a man like a criminal over a pet fish was ridiculous. Rather, authorities were forced to let Hinson off after realizing he hadn’t actually broken the law.
Hinson was evicted from his home on March 22. The 53-year-old did not take his pet oscar fish with him, so there was no one to feed it or provide fresh water. Several days later, cops showed up at the home and discovered the fish, which by that point was in poor health. The animal was taken to The Fish Room, a fish store in Wilmington.
Actually, under state law, pet fishes are not the same. The state statute that deals with animal cruelty defines “animal” as “every living vertebrate in the classes Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, and Mammalia except human beings.” Notably, none of those categories include pet fish.
As a result, prosecutors had no choice but to drop the charges. “We take a very dim view of anyone who would abuse any creature great or small and appreciate [the Animal Services Division’s] enforcement of the laws to protect vulnerable animals,” District Attorney Ben David said in a press release. “Fish are not protected under these statues, therefore all charges against Mr. Hinson are dismissed.”
Read the entire article at Reason.
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