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158 people appear in Florida courtroom on cockfighting charges


Cockfighting can result in serious charges in Florida. In fact, merely attending a cockfighting event can result in felony charges. Recently, 158 people appeared in a Miami - Dade County courtroom to face allegations of involvement in the blood sport.

The defendants were arrested during a narcotics raid at a home. Undercover narcotics officers conducting the investigation allegedly found the cockfighting operation. Almost 200 people were initially detained by police, but some were released without being charged. In addition to those who face cockfighting charges, others were arrested on drug sale and weapons charges. At the initial appearance, some people agreed to pay a fine and participate in a pretrial diversion program in exchange for dismissal of the charges. Others pleaded not guilty and may ultimately face a trial.

Cockfighting is a third degree felony in Florida. The statute prohibits owning or breeding animals, or owning any property or equipment, for the purpose of animal fighting or baiting. It also prohibits promoting or staging an animal fight, or placing bets on such an event. But the statute also states that mere possession of the animal, without more, does not violate the law.

When a person is charged with involvement in an unsavory or unpopular activity, they may be concerned with whether they can get a fair trial. Fortunately, like anyone arrested for a crime, those arrested for cockfighting or on similar charges do have rights. Among those rights are the right to an attorney and the right to confront prosecution witnesses and cross-examine them. With the help of an aggressive defense attorney the accused can point out inconsistencies in the prosecution's case and tell their side of the story in court.

Source: NBCMiami.com, "Crowded Court Deals With Cockfighting Arrests," May 23, 2014

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