The 85th Texas Legislature created a new law in 2017 called Bestiality, which makes it illegal to perform sexual acts with animals.
BESTIALITY ATTORNEY FAQs
This behavior is not something that was just made illegal, but prior to the 85th Legislature, it was commonly prosecuted under one of the Cruelty to Animals statutes. Now it is described separately. Presumably, this was done because of the stigma attached to Cruelty to Animals convictions.
What is the current Texas law about Bestiality?
The current Texas law defines the offense of Bestiality in Penal Code Section §21.09 as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly:
(1) engages in an act involving contact between:
(A) the person’s mouth, anus, or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal; or
(B) the person’s anus or genitals and the mouth of the animal;
(2) fondles or touches the anus or genitals of an animal in a manner that is not a generally accepted and otherwise lawful animal husbandry or veterinary practice, including touching through clothing;
(3) causes an animal to contact the seminal fluid of the person;
(4) inserts any part of a person’s body or any object into the anus or genitals of an animal in a manner that is not a generally accepted and otherwise lawful animal husbandry or veterinary practice;
(5) possesses, sells, transfers, purchases, or otherwise obtains an animal with the intent that the animal be used for conduct described by Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4);
(6) organizes, promotes, conducts, or participates as an observer of conduct described by Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4);
(7) causes a person to engage or aids a person in engaging in conduct described by Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4);
(8) permits conduct described by Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4) to occur on any premises under the person’s control;
(9) engages in conduct described by Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4) in the presence of a child younger than 18 years of age; or
(10) advertises, offers, or accepts the offer of an animal with the intent that the animal be used in this state for conduct described by Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4).
This law was created in 2017 by the 85th Texas Legislature and was codified at Section 21.09 in the Texas Penal Code. S.B. 1232 created the offense of Bestiality and made several other changes to laws on the same subject, and the law took effect September 1, 2017. S.B. 1232 also added this offense to the list of registrable offenses for the purposes of Texas offender registration. Judges were also given wider discretion to set conditions for community supervision.
There is also a defense in the law provided by subsection (c):
(c) It is an exception to the application of this section that the conduct engaged in by the actor is a generally accepted and otherwise lawful animal husbandry or veterinary practice.
How can I be charged with Bestiality?
You can be charged with Bestiality if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 21.09(a), in any of the categories of (1)-(10), as described in the section above have been met.
What is the penalty for a Bestiality conviction?
The crime is penalized as a state jail felony, unless the offense is committed under subsection (a)(9) or results in serious bodily injury or death of the animal, in which event the offense is a felony of the second degree.
^1. Texas Penal Code §21.09^2. S.B. 1232, 85th Texas Legislature, Section 2, effective September 1, 2017^3. S.B. 1232 at Sections 9-10^4. S.B. 1232 at Section 5^5. Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42A.511(b), as created by S.B. 1232, 85th Texas Legislature, Section 4, effective September 1, 2017:
(b) If a judge grants community supervision to a defendant convicted of an offense under Section 21.09, Penal Code, the judge may:
(1) require the defendant to relinquish custody of any animals in the defendant’s possession;
(2) prohibit the defendant from possessing or exercising control over any animals or residing in a household where animals are present; or
(3) require the defendant to participate in a psychological counseling or other appropriate treatment program for a period to be determined by the court.
^6. Texas Penal Code §21.09(b), as created by Senate Bill 1232, Section 2, effective September 1, 2017