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Under current law an act "involving contact between the person's mouth or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal or fowl" is considered an act of public lewdness and is punishable by a Class A misdemeanor which carries up to a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000 or both.
SB 1232 would create a new offense of bestiality and place the aforementioned conduct, as well as other specific related behaviors, under the definition of bestiality. It would also be a bestiality offense if a person sells, buys, transfers, purchases or otherwise obtains an animal with the intent that the animal be used for bestiality purposes. An offense under this section would be a state jail felony unless the act causes serious bodily injury or death to the animal or is performed in front of a minor, in which case it would be a felony of the second degree. A state jail felony is punishable by a minimum of 180 days and up to two years confinement plus a fine. A second degree felony is punishable by a minimum of two years and up to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
In addition to the felony level punishments, conviction of a bestiality offense would be a reportable conviction, meaning the person would be required to register as a sex offender.
Regardless of how disgusting the acts described by this legislation are, they are already punishable by a Class A misdemeanor. There is no compelling evidence that a penalty for these offenses needs to be increased to a felony level and require registration on the sex offender registry. People who commit these offenses are likely more in need of psychological treatment than lengthier prison sentences and the additional permanent public humiliation and disability imposed by being a registered sex offender. It is our view that SB 1232 adds to the problem of overcriminalization by proposing a set of punishments disproportionate to the offense. For these reasons we oppose SB 1232.