Welcome back to our feature on new laws from the 2019 Utah Legislative Session. There were a lot of changes in family law in 2019, and one amendment was made by Senate Bill 45, which adds aggravated cruelty to an animal to the list of offenses that may qualify as a domestic violence offense. Specifically, “domestic violence” or a “domestic violence offense” now includes “aggravated cruelty to an animal, as described in Subsection 76-9-301(4), with the intent to harass or threaten the other cohabitant.”
Aggravated cruelty to an animal means torturing an animal; administering, or causing to be administered, poison or a poisonous substance to an animal; or killing an animal or causes an animal to be killed without having a legal privilege to do so.
So now you can commit domestic violence against somebody without laying a hand on’em, without even attempting to hurt them or threatening to hurt them. You can commit domestic violence against someone else by committing aggravated cruelty against any old animal at all. Not even the person’s own dog or cat. Buy a goldfish (or just borrow someone else’s) and stomp it to death, with “intent to harass or threaten” a cohabitant, and you committed domestic violence. I guess the intent to harass or threaten isn’t enough. You gotta kill the goldfish too. Or just poison it or torture it. Too.
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