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Two Riverside men were recently arrested and charged with abandoning a bruised and starving horse, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Animal cruelty charges are not only serious in terms of their punishment in California, but also in the stigma attached in the eye of the public. That's why consulting with the Riverside criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible would be in your best interests to protect your rights and ensure the best possible resolution in your case.

According to the article, the two men were spotted pulling the horse by a rope and then leaving without the horse. Animal Services officers say this is a growing problem in Riverside County. More than 40 abandoned horses have been recovered so far this year.

Under California Penal Code 597, animal cruelty in California is punishable by prison time as well as a fine of up to $20,000. The charge can be pursued by prosecutors as either a misdemeanor or felony, which would change the amount of time and fine a person could face. A suspect could face 1 to 3 years in prison, under the law.

Obviously, it would be better for the suspect to be charged with a misdemeanor. And while the state controls the defendant's destiny, hiring an experienced criminal attorney early in the process can be advantageous.

For one, the attorney can speak with the prosecutor who will be handling the case before he or she files formal charges against the defendant. This is important because it allows the state to hear a second opinion. Rather than relying 100 percent on the police officer's opinion, the prosecutor now hears from the attorney, who can relay the defendant's perspective.

This sometimes can lead to the state not filing charges at all or filing a reduced charge. Because law enforcement's standard of proof is "probable cause," which is a low standard to meet and the state's burden of proof is "beyond all reasonable doubt," a high standard, prosecutors have to take a careful look at the facts and determine if they can prove the charges to a jury "beyond reasonable doubt."

That's why hiring an Riverside County felony attorney who can sort through the facts can be a big advantage. For one, it helps in plea negotiations. Or, it may mean the state doesn't file charges at all and the defendant can go free.

This applies to any type of charge, whether animal cruelty, robbery, assault or even juvenile cases from Riverside to San Jacinto.

But waiting a long time to decide which attorney to choose would be a mistake. This opportunity may long be gone and the state may have a better chance for victory. Don't wait. Call today.

If you're facing an animal abuse charge in the Riverside County area, you should contact a lawyer. Contact a Riverside County criminal defense attorney at (714) 705-6701.