What Are the Laws Regarding Bestiality in the United States?


Quick Answer

As of 2015, 34 states have laws criminalizing sexual contact between human beings and animals, explains the Animal Legal and Historical Center. In Kansas, Maine and 15 other states, bestiality is a misdemeanor, while in Massachusetts, Georgia, Rhode Island and 14 other states, the crime is a felony.

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Full Answer

The only federal law prohibiting bestiality is in the military code, according to the Animal Legal and Historical Center. The statute, found in Title 10 of the U.S. Code, criminalizes the behavior among military personnel and provides a legal basis for courts martial to prescribe punishments for violators. This dearth of federal laws against bestiality means that proscriptions against the behavior are exclusively in state laws.

Alaska's jurisprudence views bestiality as a form of cruelty against animals and classifies the crime as a Class A misdemeanor, as the Animal Legal and Historical Center explains. Among other measures, courts may require offenders to forfeit affected animals and bear the cost of medical and other care. Additionally, courts may bar such individuals from owning animals for up to 10 years.

Arizona state laws classify bestiality as a Class 6 felony, according to the Animal Legal and Historical Center. However, in situations in which offenders involve other individuals or minors under the age of 15, the crime is a Class 3 felony. Courts may require guilty individuals to undergo psychological assessments and counseling at their own cost.

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