Sexual assault against animals is not an exceptional, isolated incident. It can take place inside the owner's home or dog pound centers. No matter the context, bestiality is one of the many forms of animal cruelty. It is a tough topic to talk about, but it is important to properly recognize and be prepared to, respond to these ethical and legal violations.
There have been many steps and initiatives taken by both the government and non-government organizations to stop sexual crimes against animals. As of now, California Penal Code PC 286.5 is the only criminal statute specifically aimed for such purpose. Unlike most provisions, the language in PC 286.5 is explicit and clear: “Every person who has sexual contact with an animal is guilty of a misdemeanor.” The conciseness of this law makes it easier to enforce; thus, a greater chance of meaningful convictions. Furthermore, the following definitions have been provided for terms used in the statute such as:
- “Sexual contact” - This refers to any act or behavior done between an animal and a human being for the purpose of sexual satisfaction, arousal, abuse, or monetary gain. It involves contact with, or penetration, of one's sex organs to the animal's sex organs or vice versa. Body parts such as the mouth, anus, or fingers, when used for sexual acts, may also be considered under this definition.
- “Animal” - This refers to any non-humane organism -- amphibians, birds, reptiles, mammals, or fish -- whether alive or deceased.
Meanwhile, sexual crimes against an animal may also involve a person who is did not directly participate in the act. Distributing videos and photos of the sexual innuendo, for instance, may also be considered a violation under this statute.
There are certain exemptions to this law. For instance, the law does not apply to acts that are done for bonafide veterinary or husbandry purposes. Accepted husbandry practices include:
- Assisting with the birthing process of animals; and
- Other acts under reproductive care.
Animal molestation can be as subtle as you can imagine. Unfortunately, these acts often go unreported because the victims cannot speak out. Therefore, let us examine some examples of animal sexual abuse. (Disclaimer: we advise readers to skip to the next discussion if you are easily triggered by sexual abuse scenarios).
- To earn some money, a dog owner lends his pet to a colleague who secretly makes animal pornographic videos.
- A young teenager who is currently undergoing sexual awakening becomes curious about sex after watching a bed scene from a movie. He then experiments with his pet rabbit by inserting his sexual organ into its anus.
- A mentally-ill man sneaks inside a farm to molest horses and cows during the night.
- An abusive boyfriend, after failing to convince his girlfriend to have sex with him, decides to take it on her dog and films him fondling with the pet's sexual organ.
Animal cruelty takes many forms; sometimes even branching out to other distinct provisions depending on the nature of the crime. However, the most commonly related laws in California involving sexual abuse against animals are as follows:
- Injure/kill a pet (California Penal Code PC 384h);
- Animal cruelty (California Penal Code PC 597); and
- Assault and battery (California Penal Code PC 240 and California Penal Code PC 242/243).
Punishments for Animal Sexual Assault
A violation under California Penal Code PC 286.5, otherwise known as sexual assault against an animal, is considered a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor is heavier than an infraction but less serious than a felony.
Nevertheless, an individual who is convicted guilty of committing sexual assault against an animal will face the following penalties:
- Up to 6 months in county jail, and/or
- Misdemeanor probation.
Keep in mind that while the punishment for such an unspeakable act is not as serious, you can still be charged for other crimes depending on the facts of your case.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
As animal abuse is such a sensitive topic, being accused of doing so will inevitably make you the bad person in everyone's eyes -- even if the trial hasn't even started yet. For this reason, if you have been wrongfully accused of committing sexual crimes against your pet or an animal, you need an aggressive and compassionate criminal defense lawyer on your side. Reach out to us now and we will discuss your case with full confidentiality.
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