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An example of this is, let's say someone is accused of animal cruelty (misdemeanor) and has 10 animals involved, would it be fair to charge this person with 10 counts of cruelty to animals? Even though it is from the same incident and a first offense? Wouldn't this be double Jeopardy? Especially if the sentence stacks among charges, like for example let's say each charge carries a sentence of 3 months probation, would it be fair to charge the same person (all from the same incident) with 10 counts of cruelty to animals and have a maximum sentence of 30 months probation?

To be clear, in my state the "cruelty to animals" charge is very vague and no animals need to be dead or hurt for the state to prosecute.

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    Are you asking about any particular jurisdiction?
    – Greendrake
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 12:25
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    Let's say someone is accused of murder and has 10 people involved. Would it be fair to charge this person with 10 counts of murder? Even if it was from the same incident and a first offense?
    – bdb484
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

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A person who commits one act of animal cruelty against each of ten dogs (Ace, Biscuit, Coco etc) could be prosecuted for ten charges (or 'counts') of animal cruelty. This is because each act is a distinct offence.

(The person who commmits ten acts of animal cruelty against one dog, or five acts against two dogs, etc, could be prosecuted for ten counts of animal cruelty too.)

That is not double jeopardy. Double jeopardy is a procedural defence to being tried for a second or subsequent time for a particular act. If a person was tried and acquitted of being cruel to Ace on a given occasion, generally they can't be tried again for being cruel to Ace on that occasion. They can be tried for another occasion of cruelty to Ace.

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Depends in the jurisdiction in question. Various countries have laws on this, and procedures the prosecution is supposed to apply. These rules may apply if the same act violates different laws, or if the same law was violated several times, or both.

It is common to charge a defendant e.g. with "4 counts of murder" if they are accused of murdering four people, even if those murders were from the same burst of one automatic weapon.

It is uncommon to charge a defendant e.g. with "100 counts of theft" if they are accused of stealing a box with 100 nails, or even 100 boxes with nails.

There are always edge cases. The same kind of act, against the same victim, on different days, may or may not count multiple times. If a shoplifter takes one apple on Monday and one apple on Tuesday, that would often be two counts of theft. If a reckless driver exceeds the speed limit, slows down in a turn, and exceeds the speed limit again on the next straight road, that would often be one count.

Some countries also have rules on how to aggregate punishments for multiple. related counts. One extreme case would be to have them served consecutively, another extreme case would be to have them served concurrently, but some countries have formulas in between.

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  • I read about a case where a driver broke multiple laws (because he was extremely upset about something). A police officer figured this out and followed him to charge him with multiple offenses. A German court threw out all but the first offence, saying that the officer should have stopped the driver.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 17:17

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