The deliberate and malicious infliction of mental or physical pain upon persons or animals.
As applied to people, cruelty encompasses abusive, outrageous, and inhumane treatment that results in the wanton and unnecessary infliction of suffering upon the body or mind.
Legal cruelty involves conduct that warrants the granting of a DIVORCE to the injured spouse. Phrases such as "cruel and inhuman treatment," "cruel and abusive treatment," or "cruel and barbarous treatment" are commonly employed in matrimonial law. The term comprehends mental and physical harm, but a single act of cruelty is usually insufficient for divorce; a pattern of cruel conduct must occur over a period of time. This ground of divorce is of diminished significance due to the enactment of no-fault legislation by most jurisdictions.
Cruelty to children, also known as CHILD ABUSE, encompasses mental and physical battering and abuse, as defined by statutes in a majority of jurisdictions.
Cruelty to animals involves the infliction of physical pain or death upon an animal, when unnecessary for disciplinary, instructional, or humanitarian purposes, such as the release of the animal from incurable illness.
A person commits a misdemeanor if he or she intentionally or recklessly neglects any animal in his or her custody, mistreats any animal, or kills or injures any animal without legal privilege or the consent of its owner.