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Offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act
Being arrested or charged for having a dog that is dangerously out of control, not kept under proper control or that is on the list of prohibited breeds, can be highly upsetting and confusing.
If your dog is considered to be from a prohibited breed or to be dangerously out of control, there is a strong likelihood that a court will make a Contingent Destruction Order (‘CDO’) to have the dog put down.
Our expert criminal defence team have many years of experience dealing with dangerous dog offences and can advise and represent you to help secure the best possible outcome for you and your dog. Any mistakes made during police interview can be very hard to rectify, so it is essential to have expert legal advice and representation from the outset.
You should never answer any police questions without a solicitor present.
Our criminal defence lawyers speak a wide range of languages, so can offer effective representation for people from all backgrounds, right from the police interview stage through to prosecution and appeals.
If you have been charged with a dangerous dog offence, you can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate advice and representation.
Our criminal defence expertise
Having represented clients in all types of criminal proceedings for over 40 years, we have the expertise to secure the best possible outcome under even the most challenging circumstances. We can ensure all relevant factors are considered and that no possible angle of defence is overlooked.
Our team includes a number of accredited police station representatives, meaning we can offer 24-hour advice and representation for anyone arrested for an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
We regularly represent clients in both the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court and have established links with some of the country’s leading barristers. We have represented a number of clients at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in relation to dangerous dog offences, so we can provide the experience, expert representation you need.
Common questions about dangerous dog offences
What breeds are banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991?
Four dog breeds are banned under the Act:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
It is against the law to own, breed, sell, give away or abandon any dog of these breeds (although it can sometimes be possible to obtain an exemption from the police if they believe your dog is not dangerous).
Whether your dog is considered one of the prohibited breeds depends on its appearance and the judgement of a police or council expert in dangerous dog breeds.
If you are accused of owning a dog from one of the prohibited breeds, it is your responsibility to prove that it is not of a banned type, rather than for the police or other authorities to prove that it is.
When is a dog considered ‘dangerously out of control’?
A dog may be considered dangerously out of control if it is alleged to have:
- Injured someone
- Made someone fear that it might injure them
- Attacked another person’s dog or other animal
- Made someone fear they might be injured in attempted to stop your dog from attacking their animal
This law applies to all types of dogs and covers public places, your home and any other private place, such as a friend’s or neighbour’s home.
What are the penalties for dangerous dog offences?
The Crown Prosecution Service’s sentencing guidelines for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 are as follows:
Possession of a prohibited dog/ Breeding, selling, exchanging or advertising a prohibited dog – Up to 6 months’ custody and/or a community order or fine of 75-125% of your weekly income.
Owner or person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place) – Up to 6 months’ custody and/or a community order or fine of 125-175% of your weekly income.
Owner or person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place) where a person is injured – Up to 5 years’ custody and/or a community order or fine of 125-175% of your weekly income.
Owner or person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place) where an assistance dog is injured or killed – Up to 3 years’ custody and/or a community order or fine of 75-125% of your weekly income.
Owner or person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place) where death is caused – Up to 14 years’ custody.
If you are found guilty of any of these offences, you may also be disqualified from owning a dog for a period set by the court, you may be required to pay compensation to anyone injured by your dog and your dog could be ordered to be destroyed.
What will happen to a dog seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act?
If your dog is believed to be from a prohibited breed or to be dangerously out of control, the animal will normally be seized by the police.
If the dog is found by a police or council expert to be from one of the four banned breeds, or you are found guilty of having the dog dangerously out of control, a court is likely to make a Contingent Destruction Order (‘CDO’) to have the dog put down.
If the dog is of a prohibited breed but you can prove that the animal is not dangerous, you may potentially be granted an exemption by the police. This will result in your dog being added to the Index of Exempted Dogs (IED) and you being issued with a Certificate of Exemption.
If you are granted an exemption for your dog, the animal will need to be neutered, microchipped, kept in a secure place, and kept on a lead and muzzled when in public. You will also need to take out insurance and notify the IED if you move and when your dog dies.
What are my rights when arrested for a dangerous dog?
If you are arrested or charged in relation to an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, knowing your rights can be essential to help you avoid unintentionally undermining your defence.
Key points to remember are:
- At the time of your arrest, the arresting officer must tell you what specific offence you are being arrested for
- You do not have to answer any questions you are asked
- You should never answer police questions without a solicitor present
The police are required to caution you with the following words:
“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
Following a police interview, you may be:
- Charged with a specific offence
- Released under investigation
- Release with no further action
Contact our dangerous dog offences lawyers now
For urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act or any other criminal matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
You can contact a member of our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:
Camden Office: 020 7624 7771
Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333
City of London: 0207 624 7771 – our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City.
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
24/7 legal representation for dangerous dog offences
For immediate representation and advice, you can contact our Emergency Number: 07836 577 556, and we will provide you with the urgent assistance you need.
For new serious cases you can email a senior partner/lawyer directly by clicking here. When you call us you can request a call back or meeting the same day with a senior partner/lawyer or Barrister.