Statutory Madness

I ought to make it a regular feature to post about incomprehensible statutes. Here, here, and here are three prior ones, and those are just in the criminal books. I can’t imagine what kind of lunacy must exist in the rest of the code.

Anyway, in honor of Mike Vick and Clinton Portis, here’s the latest post asking you to make the call.

First, passed in 1982, Alabama Code 3-1-29:

(a) It shall be a Class C felony for any person:

(1) To own, possess, keep or train any dog with the intent that such dog shall be engaged in an exhibition of fighting with another dog;

(2) For amusement or gain, to cause any dog to fight with another dog, or cause any dogs to injure each other;

(3) To permit any act in violation of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.

Second, passed in 2006 and making no mention of 3-1-29, Alabama Code 13A-12-6:

(b) The crime of hog and canine fighting occurs when a person organizes or conducts any commercial or private event, commonly referred to as a “catch,” wherein there is a display of combat or fighting between one or more domestic or feral canines and feral or domestic hogs and in which it is intended or reasonably foreseeable that the canines or hogs would be injured, maimed, mutilated, or killed. . . .

(e) A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor upon conviction for a first offense. A second or subsequent violation is a Class C felony.

What’s the deal? This looks like different penalties for the same crime. The 1982 statute makes it a misdemeanor “to cause any dog to fight with another dog.” The 2006 statute makes it a felony to have a fight “between one or more domestic or feral canines and feral or domestic hogs.”

So was the 2006 statute supposed to supersede and replace the 1982 statute? Or did the legislature intend to write two laws prohibiting the same conduct, but in one case calling it a misdemeanor while in the other case calling it a felony, and leaving it up to individual prosecutors to choose, willy-nilly, which to charge? Or do the statutes deal with different crimes? I.e., the first prohibits only dog v. dog, while the second prohibits only hog v. dog?

I certainly have no idea.

BTW, how many prosecutions do think we’ve had for this (Ala Code 13A-12-5):

A person commits the offense of unlawful bear exploitation . . .

Then again, I can think of at least one potential offender.

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4 Comments on “Statutory Madness”

  1. Mark Says:

    It looks like the ’82 statute makes it a felony while the ’06 statute makes it a misdemeanor. Even if you assume the ’06 statute is intended for only dog-vs-hog fights, why should that be a misdemeanor and dog-vs-dog fights be a felony? Do the Alabama legislators have staff who are supposed to check the sanity and consistency of bills?

  2. Wheeler Says:

    i think there’s only one central office that supposed to do that sort of thing. and i’m guessing they’re probably way understaffed.

  3. Mac Thomason Says:

    I think it’s only meant to cover dog vs. hog. IIRC, there was a furor a couple of years ago about releasing hogs and using dogs to kill them. I may have written about it but it’s probably in one of those places in my archive I haven’t loaded yet.

  4. Mac Thomason Says:

    Aha. Here it is.


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