Will juveniles charged with dog beating be tried as adults?

District Attorney explains why they cannot

CLEVELAND, Tennessee (WDEF) – The District Attorney General for Bradley County is addressing an issue brought up by the public in a gruesome dog abuse case.

Two 16 year olds were charged with Aggravated Cruelty to Animals over a video showing a boy beating a dog to death with a stick.

Investigators say one of them was the boy in the video and the other was behind the camera.

Members of the public want officials to try the juveniles as adults.

But DA Steve Crump’s office has issued a statement on why they can’t do that.

He says the law used to allow it, but an updated law specified which cases were eligible for transferring to adult court.

And animal abuse is not one of them.

Here is their full letter:

Recently, two sixteen-year-old juveniles were charged with the offense of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals.  The District Attorney’s Office for the 10th Judicial District has requested the detention of the juveniles for this conduct.   They are scheduled for a detention hearing on May, 19, 2022 in the Juvenile Court of Bradley County Tennessee.


Numerous citizens have requested that our office begin the process to “transfer” the juveniles to Criminal Court so that they may be prosecuted as an adult for the killing of the dog known as “Angel.”  Tennessee law allows the transfer of juvenile cases to Criminal Court only under specific and limited circumstances found at Tennessee Code Annotated section 37-1-134 and Rule of Juvenile Procedure number 208.  Recently, the transfer of juveniles to criminal court to be tried as adults was restricted by the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018.


Specifically, following the passage of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, Tennessee law now provides for transfer only as follows:


(A) The child was:

(i) Less than fourteen (14) years of age at the time of the alleged conduct and charged with first degree murder or second degree murder or attempted first or second degree murder;

(ii) Fourteen (14) years of age or more but less than seventeen (17) years of age at the time of the alleged conduct and charged with the offense of first degree murder, second degree murder, rape, aggravated rape, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child, aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, especially aggravated burglary, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated kidnapping, commission of an act of terrorism, carjacking, or an attempt to commit any such offenses;

(iii) Sixteen (16) years of age or more at the time of the alleged conduct and charged with the offense of robbery or attempt to commit robbery; or

(iv) Seventeen (17) years of age or more at the time of the alleged conduct;


Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-134


Tennessee law does not allow for a Juvenile Judge to transfer any sixteen-year-old to Criminal Court for the offense of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, and this office will not be allowed to seek transfer.  Because we cannot pursue a transfer of these juveniles to Criminal Court for prosecution as an adult, we will continue to oppose their release from juvenile detention.  Our office will seek all remedies allowed by law in this case. We at the District Attorney’s Office will continue to pursue justice in this case for the community and the dog known as “Angel.” 

Categories: Bradley County, Local News