When Dog Bite Charges Turn Criminal

Usually, when dogs attack people in Rockford, the victim must call a Rockford personal injury lawyer to take care of their case. Because dog owners in Illinois are held strictly liable for any injuries their dogs inflict, victims can sue the owner and obtain a settlement for their damages. There are only some rare circumstances when a dog bite charge may warrant a criminal case. 

Dangerous vs. Vicious Dogs in Illinois

Illinois differentiates between dangerous and vicious dogs. Dangerous dogs are dogs that put people or animals at risk of injury or death. A dog may be classified as dangerous in Illinois if it exhibits threatening behavior or causes minor injuries to a victim. A dog may be classified as vicious if it causes severe injuries to a victim or has been declared dangerous on three different occasions.

Once a dog is labeled as dangerous in Illinois, the dog owner must follow specific guidelines outlined by the court. These guidelines may include placing a label on their property to warn passerby that the dog is dangerous or placing a muzzle on the dog whenever leaving the house. 

If a dog owner of a dangerous dog violates the dangerous dog law, the dog owner may face a misdemeanor. If a dog owner of a dangerous dog violates the dangerous dog law and their dog seriously injures someone, they may face felony charges.

Consequences of Criminal Dog Bite Charges 

If you’re a dog owner who’s been accused of criminal charges because your dog has attacked someone, you’ll likely need a strong defense to reduce or dismiss your charges. Most courts will have trouble siding with a dangerous dog over an injured victim, so it’s important to explain your side of the story if you believe your dog was innocent or the victim was negligent in some way. 

There are situations when the victim may contribute to their own injuries. For example, if your dog attacked a victim while they were trespassing on your property, you may not be at fault. It’s also possible that a victim was at fault if they approached your dog without asking.

Although there are no guarantees you and your dog will be safe from criminal consequences, you have the right to a fair trial and legal representation under the law in Illinois and a skilled defense attorney can help fight your case.