Bestiality in Florida
In many legal contexts, pets and animals are considered to be the “property” of the person who owns them. For example, because pets are not “people” but are “property” under the law they cannot inherit anything from their owner’s estate. The law generally recognizes a person’s ability to use or dispose of his or her property in whatever way he or she sees fit. If you do not like a book that you own, for instance, you can (1) donate the book to a library; (2) throw the book in the garbage; (3) give the book to a friend; (4) burn the book in your fireplace. However, pets are not truly “property” in the criminal law context: there are a number of criminal statutes that prohibit certain acts committed against animals. This is the lesson one woman is learning the hard way.
Bestiality in Florida
The woman was arrested on allegations of bestiality after her boyfriend showed police videos in which the woman appears to engage in various sexual acts with the woman’s two dogs. Under Florida’s bestiality law, a person commits a criminal offense when he or she knowingly:
- Engages in sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal (sexual conduct being defined as contact between the mouth, sex organ, or anus of a person and the sex organ or anus of an animal, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal);
- Aids or abets another person in engaging in sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal;
- Permits such sexual conduct or sexual contact to occur on the person’s premises;
- Performs any service aimed to promote such sexual conduct or contact, including acting as an observer to such an act.
The bestiality law does not prohibit accepted husbandry practices and/or veterinary practices. A conviction for bestiality is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and/or a term of confinement of up to one year.
Defenses to Bestiality Charges
Two defenses to bestiality charges focus on the intent of the individual allegedly involved in the act. If the person did not act knowingly, because of an intoxicating substance or other mental impairment, the prosecution may not be able to prove its case. Alternatively, if the person did knowingly engage in sexual conduct but there is no evidence that the act was performed for sexual arousal or sexual gratification, the defendant may be acquitted.
In addition, the contact between the defendant and the animal must fit the definition of either “sexual contact” or “sexual conduct” or else the prosecution may not be able to secure a conviction against the defendant.
Knowledgeable Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner has years of experience representing Florida residents charged with various sex crimes and sex-related offenses. Contact his office by calling (305) 670-9919 or completing his firm’s online contact form to discuss your sex crime case with Jeffrey S. Weiner and learn how a resourceful and skilled attorney can make the difference in your case.