Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Criminal Justice

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 244 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Alissa P Worden

Committee Members

James Acker, Valerie Lang, Hans Toch, Robert Worden


Animal Cruelty, Animal Law, Prosecutorial Decision-Making, Animal welfare, Animals

Subject Categories



Societal norms regarding the treatment of animals are evolving. This is reflected in part in nationwide changes in criminal justice policy regarding animal welfare. These changes, however, are not likely embraced by all nor do they necessarily result in changes in the practices of decision-makers in the criminal courts. Prosecutorial decision-making in animal cruelty cases may be especially varied due to evolving norms regarding the treatment of animals and conflicting views on the seriousness of the offense, along with the classification of animal cruelty as a relatively low level offense. Research to date has failed to examine how these cases are being handled by those assigned to prosecute them. This research relies primarily on interviews with prosecuting attorneys, and also includes interviews with other criminal justice actors and limited case data, to better understand these types of cases. Prosecutors' thoughts on and experiences with animal cruelty cases are explored, providing information on how these cases are handled by the criminal justice system. This research also examines whether or not general theories of prosecutorial decision-making apply to animal cruelty cases. Results indicate that overall, cruelty cases are handled by prosecutors in a manner similar to other types of cases; however some notable differences do exist.

Included in

Criminology Commons