Animal Cruelty Charges Against Couple Who Brought their Kitten to the Beach

October 21, 2022 Criminal Defense

Beachgoers witnessed the unexpected when a couple not only brought a kitten onto the beach—but proceeded to abuse it by throwing it into the ocean. Witnesses called the authorities, which led to the couple’s arrest.

We will provide details of the case along with information on battery against a police officer and animal cruelty charges in Florida.

Details of the Case

Jamarria Wayne, 22, and John Laguerre, 27, have both been arrested after an incident of animal abuse took place on Sunny Isles Beach in September. Other beachgoers became concerned after seeing the couple repeatedly throw their pet kitten “like a toy.”

One witness called the authorities, and eight officers responded to the scene. “They were throwing her like this into the water,” witness Natalia Martin told Local 10. “They were trying to make her swim and the cat was so scared, she was passing out already. She was half alive.”

Multiple beachgoers began to record the animal abuse on their phones. Martin attempted to address the couple about the abuse. “The guy started being so aggressive towards me,” Martin claimed. “He starts stepping up, he says, ‘Hey, look, this is my cat. This is not your business. I can do what I want.’ And then he was like, ‘If you don’t want me to throw the cat, give me $1,000 right now.”

Police approached the couple, questioning their violation of the “no animals on the beach” rules. According to the report, that’s when Laguerre refused to leave the beach, shouting expletives and resisting arrest from the officers. Wayne shouted at the police, threatening to bite them.

After finally accepting the arrest, Wayne was charged with two felony counts of battery and attempted battery against a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest. Laguerre was charged with misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and animal cruelty.

Neither Wayne nor Laguerre claimed ownership of the kitten after bonding out of jail. This was a relief to Martin—who stepped up and offered to adopt the kitten from the beach.

“I took this cat. I adopted her officially two days after this incident,” Martin said.

Battery Against a Police Officer

Florida law makes it illegal to batter a police officer. Statute section 784.07 explains battery against a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical care provider, public transit employee, or other specific officers is more severe than a regular battery charge.

A “law enforcement officer” is defined as a police officer, a correctional officer, a correctional probation officer, an employee or agent of the Department of Corrections, and any other employee listed under the same statute.

The State must prove each of the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant actually and intentionally touched or struck the victim against their will, and/or intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim.
  2. The victim was a Public Officer or Employee
  3. The defendant knew that the victim was a Public Officer or Employee.
  4. And the victim was engaged in the lawful performance of their duties when the battery was committed.

Thus, Battery upon a law enforcement officer is a specific intent crime that requires the State to prove the offender knowingly intended to hit the law enforcement officer.

Battery against a law enforcement officer is considered a third-degree felony in Florida. The penalties for a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison, and up to five years of probation.

Animal Cruelty Charges in Florida

The state of Florida has two types of charges for animal abuse: a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge and a felony animal cruelty charge. The main difference between the two charges is whether the abuse was a one-time occurrence or if the cruel actions are an ongoing occurrence.

Florida Statute section 828.12(1) explains that it is illegal to do any of the following to an animal:

  • Unnecessarily overload, overdrive, torment, deprive of food and water or shelter;
  • Unnecessarily mutilate or kill an animal;
  • Carry in or upon any vehicle any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner (an example would be driving a truck with a pet in the back while it’s cold and raining)

A person who commits one of these acts is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor charge for animal cruelty, which has a penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail. To find out more about animal cruelty charges and cases in Florida, read our page here.

The same Statute classifies Aggravated Animal Cruelty as a third-degree felony which occurs when a person who owns, has custody or controls an animal, intentionally commits an act resulting in the cruel death or excessive/repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on the animal. The penalties for a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison, and up to five years of probation.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, it is in your best interest to seek out the legal help of a skilled defense attorney. Navigating the legal world can be difficult and intimidating. An experienced Florida criminal defense attorney will walk you through the entire process and work towards building a strong defense for your case.

Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients across the state for various criminal charges. Contact us today for more information and a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message on our website

Written by Karissa Key

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