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Bestiality

The 85th Texas Legislature created a new law in 2017 called Bestiality, which makes it illegal to perform sexual acts with animals.

This law was created by Section 2 of Senate Bill 12321 and is to be codified at Section 21.09 in the Texas Penal Code. S.B. 1232 created the offense of Bestiality among several other changes to laws on the same subject, and the law takes effect September 1, 2017.2 S.B. 1232 also added this offense to the list of registrable offenses for the purposes of Texas offender registration.3 Judges were also given wider discretion to set conditions for community supervision.4

What is the law about Bestiality in Texas?

Effective September 2017, Section 21.09 of the Texas Penal Code describes the Bestiality law at subsection (a) as follows:5

(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).

There is 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.

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 degree6.


Legal References:

1Senate Bill 1232

2Senate Bill 1232 at Sections 9-10

3Senate Bill 1232 at Section 5

4Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42A.511(b), as created by Senate Bill 1232, 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.

5Penal Code Section Sec. 21.09(a), as created by Senate Bill 1232, Section 2, effective September 1, 2017

6Penal Code Section Sec. 21.09(b), as created by Senate Bill 1232, Section 2, effective September 1, 2017

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