2018 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings

Laws against the sexual assault of animals

Select an animal law category to view 2018 trends:

2018 Trend Report: Sexual Assault of Animals

Laws against the sexual assault of animals

Laws prohibiting the sexual assault of animals vary widely from state to state. Five states—Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming—still do not have any laws prohibiting the sexual assault of animals. In those states, sexual assault could still be prosecuted as animal cruelty if the animal suffers some physical harm, but that is still grossly insufficient to address the issue.

Even if the state prohibits sexual assault of animals, the laws may be weak. In 22 states, bestiality is merely a misdemeanor. Furthermore, many states have antiquated laws which prohibit vague, undefined crimes such as the “abominable crime against nature.” Not only are such statutes difficult to enforce due to their vagueness, but they are also usually closely tied to unconstitutional sodomy laws.

A growing number of states are updating and strengthening their bestiality laws, bringing them into the 21st century. Three states—Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Vermont—passed bills strengthening their laws addressing the sexual assault of animals. In Louisiana and Massachusetts, those laws not only included thorough definitions, but also addressed related crimes and provided additional sentencing tools.

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