This table details state laws prohibiting sexual conduct between humans and animals. Most states (about 48) have some provision that criminalizes engaging in sexual conduct with animals. New Mexico and West Virginia as well as the District of Columbia, do not have laws addressing this conduct.
States are somewhat split between categorizing first offenses misdemeanors or felonies (23 misdemeanor and 25 felony, which also depends on severity of conduct and injury to the animal in states like Nevada and Texas). One striking fact is the range of possible sentences under the laws. In Rhode Island, conviction results in imprisonment for not less than 7 years up to 20 years. Idaho gives a sentence of not less than 5 years in state prison. Georgia also has a mandatory minimum of one year in jail up with a maximum of up to five.
While almost half of states label the crime a misdemeanor, in some of those states, such as Kansas and Maine, the severity level jumps to a felony if the actor causes or coerces juveniles to engage in the activity or if the person has previous convictions of bestiality.
Notably, the legality of bestiality is not controlled from the federal level. The only relevant federal law is the sodomy law under the military code. This law provides that “[a]ny person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with . . . an animal is guilty of sodomy.” 10 U.S.C.A. § 925. The penalty is derived through court martial. As one might expect, the statute applies only to military personnel.
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