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Woman fails to prove animal fighting statute is unconstitutionally vague

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A Marion County woman failed to carry her “heavy burden” of proving that Indiana Code 35-46-3-10, which governs dog fights, is unconstitutionally vague, the Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

Alice Lee appealed her Class A misdemeanor conviction of attendance at an animal fighting contest. Police received a tip from a confidential informant about a dog fight occurring at an Indianapolis residence. Lee was in the garage where the fight was occurring, but told police she was just there to pick up her pit bull, which was in her car in the driveway.

She contended in Alice Lee v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1112-CR-1090, the word “attends” in I.C. 35-46-3-10, is so vague as to make the statute unconstitutional. The statute says “a person who knowingly or intentionally attends a fighting contest involving animals commits cruelty to an animal, a Class A misdemeanor.” An “animal fighting contest” is a conflict between two or more animals, doesn’t include a conflict that is accidental or unorganized, and “animal” does not include human being.

Lee argued that the statute could lead to someone being arrested if they watched a dog fight on the Internet, a simulation of a fight for a movie, watched a friend feed a mouse to a pet snake, or attended a circus and watched a man box with a kangaroo or wrestle a bear.

The statute makes clear that the scenarios Lee proposed would not fall under the statute, Judge James Kirsch wrote. He did note that the court “reserve(d) for another day the question of whether a person who pays to watch an animal fight live on the Internet can be said to be attending an animal fighting contest.”

 

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