Laws supporting post-conviction possession bans

2023 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings

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Post-Conviction Possession Bans

◼︎ Mandatory ◼︎ Permissive ◼︎ None

*New/revised in 2023

Laws supporting post-conviction possession bans

After a person is convicted of animal cruelty, the court may prohibit the defendant from owning or possessing any animal for a period of time. In many states, this prohibition is statutorily authorized, or even mandated. These possession bans are one of the most effective ways to prevent repeat offenses. They restrict an abuser’s access to animals, drastically limiting the pool of potential victims. They also allow law enforcement to intervene quickly to protect at-risk animals.


As of 2023, only 23 states mandate possession bans after a conviction for animal cruelty—and several of those state statutes are limited to specific species or crimes, such as the sexual assault of an animal. Additionally, 19 states, Guam and D.C. statutorily authorize possession bans, but those are ultimately left up to the court’s discretion. Fortunately these numbers are trending upwards. In 2023, Connecticut and Texas both imposed mandatory 5 year possession bans following a conviction for animal cruelty. New Mexico created a mandatory 3 to 15 year possession ban following a conviction for sexual assault of an animal. Illinois strengthened its existing possession ban law, clarifying that such bans may last up to a lifetime, and imposing a penalty for violating the ban.

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