In Houston, Texas, a homeless woman was killed when she was attacked by a dog. The couple that was connected to that attack has now be given charges by state officials, showing how the recent changes to the laws surrounding animal attacks can be used when there is a fatality.

The couple being charged were not married, but they did appear to be living together. This means that, under common law practices, they can be considered husband and wife. The man is 33 years old, and the woman is 26 years old. They reportedly owned one of the dogs, a pit bull, that played a part in the killing. They may have owned more than one.

Under the Texas laws, a dog attack charge can be classified as a second-degree felony. The potential prison sentence could be as short as two years, but it could also be as long as 20 years. On top of that, they could be looking at fines of as much as $10,000.

There will be a few key points in the case, according to one expert. First, they must be able to show that the attack was not provoked in any way. Second, they have to show that the people who owned the dog did not secure it. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they have to demonstrate that the owners were already aware that they had a dangerous dog.

Individuals who have been attacked by a dog should know exactly how the changes to local laws, which went into effect in 2007, could change what rights they have in a case, even if they only suffered injuries.

Source: Source: Houston Chronicle, “Couple charged in dog attack death of homeless woman,” Carol Christian, July 1, 2014