Virginia

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Titlesort descending Summary
Blankenship v. Commonwealth Brandon Scott Blankenship showed up at Wally Andrews’ home although Blankenship had previously been ordered not to come onto Andrews’ property. Blankenship stood outside on Andrews’ property and continued to curse at Andrews and threaten to kill him. Andrews called law enforcement and when they arrived, Blankenship continued his cursing and yelling at the officers. Every time the officers attempted to arrest Blankenship he would ball up his fists and take a fighting stance towards the officers. At some point the officers released a police K-9 named Titan after Blankenship took off running. Blankenship kicked and punched Titan until he backed off. Titan ended up with a digestive injury in which he would not eat and seemed lethargic. Blankenship was indicted for three counts of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, one count of assault on a law enforcement animal, one count of assault and battery, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of animal cruelty. The Court struck one count of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, the count of assault on a law enforcement animal, and the count of obstruction to justice. Blankenship was convicted of the remaining four counts and he appealed assigning error to the sufficiency of the evidence used to convict him. The Court found that Blankenship’s overt acts demonstrated that he intended to place the law enforcement officers in fear of bodily harm which in turn caused the officers to actually and reasonably fear bodily harm. The totality of the circumstances supported Blankenship’s conviction of assault and battery on both the law enforcement officers and Andrews. As for the animal cruelty conviction, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence from which the circuit court could find that Blankenship voluntarily acted with a consciousness that inhumane injury or pain would result from punching and kicking Titan. Blankenship had no right to resist the lawful arrest and his actions against Titan were not necessary, therefore, there was sufficient evidence to support Blankenship’s conviction for animal cruelty. The Court ultimately affirmed and remanded the case.
BREEDLOVE v. HARDY



This Virginia case concerned the shooting of plaintiff's companion animal where defendant alleged that the dog was worrying his livestock. The court reversed judgment for defendant, finding that defendant’s act of killing dog while not engaged in the act of “worrying the livestock,” was not authorized within the statute.

Detailed Discussion of Virginia Great Ape Laws


This discussion analyzes the laws relevant to the possession of great apes in Virginia. The paper examines categories of individuals who possess great apes including persons using them as pets, exhibitors, zoos, sanctuaries, and research facilities.

Ford v. Com.


In this Virginia case, the defendant was convicted of maliciously shooting a companion animal of another “with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill,” contrary to Va. Code § 18.2-144, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The Court held that the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions, where the defendant admitted he drove the vehicle witnesses saw by the barn where the dog was shot and one witness saw him shoot toward the barn. 

Horen v. Commonwealth


Native American medicine woman and her husband convicted of illegally possessing wild bird feathers in violation of Virginia statute.  The Virginia Court of Appeals held that the statute violates RFRA because it does not provide a scheme to possess feathers for religious purposes, as it does for other purposes.  Thus, the statute was not religiously neutral because it discriminated based on content and the state did not employ the least restrictive means in advancing its compelling interest.  For further discussion on the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, see

Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act

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Kondaurov v. Kerdasha


In



Kondaurov v. Kerdasha




,


the Virginia Supreme Court held that the plaintiff-motorist could not recover damages for emotional or mental anguish she suffered either because of her concern for injuries sustained by her dog, who was riding in motorist's car at time of accident. Here, the plaintiff was clearly entitled to be compensated in damages for any emotional distress she suffered as a consequence of the physical impact she sustained in the accident. However, the court noted that Virginia still views pets as personal property, and plaintiffs cannot recover emotional distress damages resulting from negligently inflicted injury to personal property.

O'MALLEY, v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia The appellant, John Dixon O'Malley was not charged with or convicted of any crime. However, he was issued a summons to determine whether his dog was dangerous pursuant to Virginia Code § 3.2–6540(A) and (B). The jury found O’Malley's dog to be dangerous under the Virginia Code due to attacking and injuring the dog of Randall Powell. O’Malley appealed the trial court decision to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. The Court of Appeals concluded that they did not have jurisdiction over the appeal due to being a court of limited jurisdiction. The Court relied on Virginia Code § 17.1–406(A) which provides that the Court of Appeals' appellate jurisdiction was limited to appeals from final criminal convictions. The Court of Appeals reasoned that no language in Code § 3.2–6540 characterized as criminal the proceeding to identify a canine as a dangerous dog. Therefore, the finding at the trial level that O’Malley's dog was dangerous was civil in nature. Because the finding was civil in nature, the Court of Appeals lacked subject matter jurisdiction over O’Malley’s appeal and the case was transferred to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Sample Voir Dire Questions -- Horse Neglect Case, Noah's Arc Case
Settle v. Commonwealth


The defendant-appellant, Charles E. Settle, Jr., was convicted of two counts of inadequate care by owner of companion animals and one count of dog at large under a county ordinance, after Fauquier County Sherriff's officers were dispatched to his home on multiple occasions over the course of one calendar year in response to animal noise and health and safety complaints from his neighbors.  Consequently, all of the affected dogs were seized from Settle and relocated to local animal shelters.  The trial court also declared three of the animals to be dangerous dogs pursuant to another county ordinance.  The Court of Appeals of Virginia held that: (1) because the forfeiture of dogs was a civil matter the Court of Appeals lacked subject matter jurisdiction and was not the proper forum to decide the case; (2) that Settle failed to join the County as an indispensible party in the notice of appeal from conviction for the county ordinance violation; and (3) that the evidence was sufficient to identify Settle as the owner of the neglected companion animals.

Smith v. Com.


The defendant was charged for violation of Virginia’s Code § 3.2–6570(F) after he shot the family dog; he was later convicted by a jury.  Upon appeal, the defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his proffered self-defense jury instructions. The appeals court agreed, reasoning that more than a scintilla of evidence supported giving the proffered self-defense instructions, that determining whether this evidence was credible and actually supported a conclusion that the defendant acted in self-defense or defense of others was the responsibility of the jury, not that of the trial court, and that the proffered jury instructions properly stated the law. The case was thus reversed and remanded.

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