People v. Garcia

812 N.Y.S.2d 66, 29 A.D.3d 255 (2006)

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People v. Garcia

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
812 N.Y.S.2d 66, 29 A.D.3d 255 (2006)

Facts

In 2003, Michael Garcia (defendant) was living with Emelie Martinez and Martinez’s three children. Garcia became angry at Martinez and threw one of the children’s fish tanks, which contained a goldfish. The fish tank shattered across the floor. Garcia then stomped on the goldfish while the children were watching. Following the incident, the State of New York (plaintiff) charged Garcia with aggravated cruelty to animals under the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law § 353-a(1). Section 353-a(1) provided that an individual may be convicted of a felony for the unjustifiable killing of a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. The trial court found Garcia guilty of violating Section 353-a(1). Garcia appealed on the ground that he could not be convicted of a felony because a goldfish did not constitute a companion animal. Garcia argued that a companion animal was an animal capable of showing reciprocity or loyalty to its owner, such as a cat or a dog. Garcia also argued that he had not killed the goldfish with aggravated cruelty because the fish had died instantly and had not experienced extreme pain. Additionally, Garcia claimed that the statute was unconstitutionally vague.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Catterson, J.)

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