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PC 286.5 Sexual Assault of an Animal: Law, Sentence, & Defense

California penal code section 286.5 PC describes the law and punishment related to the new crime of sexual assault of an animal. Included in this article is a list of common defenses related to a violation of PC 286.5. For further information, contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation.

PC 286.5(a) Law

Per PC 286.5(a) Every person who has sexual contact with an animal is guilty of a misdemeanor.

The following terms have the following meanings:

“Animal” means any nonhuman creature, whether alive or dead (PC 286.5(c)(1)). This includes any domesticated or feral dog (canine), cat (feline), or farm animal (goat, donkey, horse, etc.).

“Sexual contact” means any act, committed for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, abuse, or financial gain, between a person and an animal involving contact between the sex organs or anus of one and the mouth, sex organs, or anus of the other, or, without a bona fide veterinary or animal husbandry purpose, the insertion, however slight, of any part of the body of a person or any object into the vaginal or anal opening of an animal, or the insertion of any part of the body of an animal into the vaginal or anal opening of a person (PC 286.5(c)(2)).

The following are violations of PC 286.5: oral copulation performed on an animal; oral copulation received by an animal; sexual penetration of an animal (without bona fide veterinary or animal husbandry purpose); sexual penetration of a person by an animal; sexual intercourse with an animal; masturbation of an animal.

Also, any authorized officer investigating a violation of sexual abuse to an animal may seize the animal that has been used in the commission of the offense to protect the health or safety of the animal or the health or safety of others, and to obtain evidence of the offense (PC 286.5(d)(1)).

Note: Any animal seized pursuant to PC 286.5 shall be promptly taken to a shelter facility or veterinary clinic to be examined by a veterinarian for evidence of sexual contact (PC 286.5(d)(2)).

PC 286.5 Penalty

Jail Sentence: Sexual abuse of an animal is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of sexually abusing an animal, the defendant could face up to 180 days in county jail.

Note: Sexual abuse of animal is classified as a misdemeanor; however, sexual abuse of an animal can often be charged as animal cruelty, a felony, where pain is inflicted to the animal as part of the sexual abuse (PC 597).

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is allowed in penal code 286.5(a) cases, but a probation sentence is never guaranteed. Essentially, a probation sentence is a period of monitoring by the court, as opposed to a jail sentence. A probation sentence carries "terms of probation," that relate to the crime, punishment, and rehabilitation (i.e., work release, fines, restraining orders, etc.).

Whether the defendant receives a probation sentence after a conviction of PC 286.5(a) depends on many factors, including the defendant’s criminal history, the level of abuse inflicted on the animal, the remorse shown by the defendant, if any, the terms of any negotiated plea bargain between the defendant and the district attorney, and more.

Sex Offender Registration: A conviction of PC 286.5 does not require sex offender registration in California (PC 286.5 & PC 290(c)).

Seizure of Animal: Upon the conviction of a person charged with a violation of penal code 286.5, all animals lawfully seized and impounded with respect to the violation shall be adjudged by the court to be forfeited and shall be transferred to the impounding officer or appropriate public entity for proper adoption or other disposition (PC 286.5(d)(3)).

Financial Penalties: In addition to any court fines, court fees, and restitution to the animal’s owner, a person convicted of sexual abuse of an animal shall be personally liable to the seizing agency for all costs of impoundment from the time of seizure to the time of proper disposition.

Additional Penalties: In addition to possible jail or probation sentencing, if found guilty of PC 286.5, the defendant could face any of following direct and indirect penalties: immigration consequences, professional licensing consequences, military service consequences, asset forfeiture, civil lawsuit, criminal protective orders, court fines and fees, restraining orders, and more.

PC 286.5 Defense

Common defense to a criminal allegation of sexual abuse to an animal include the following statutory defenses:

Non-sexual penetration of an animal for bona fide and accepted practice related to veterinary medicine, which is performed by a licensed veterinarian or a certified veterinary technician under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian,

Non-sexual penetration of an animal for any artificial insemination of animals for reproductive purposes (non-sexual for the defendant),

Non-sexual penetration of an animal for accepted animal husbandry practices such as raising, breeding, or assisting with the birthing process of animals or any other practice that provides care for an animal (non-sexual for the defendant), or

Non-sexual penetration to any generally accepted practices related to the judging of breed conformation (PC 286.5(b)).

Other non-statutory defenses include statute of limitations (one year from the date of alleged offense), duress, illegal search and seizure, coerced confession, and more.

For further information on the crime and defenses related to sexual abuse of an animal (aka "bestiality"), or California penal code section 286.5(a), contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our award-winning team of sex crimes defense attorney have successfully handled thousands of misdemeanor and felony sex crimes in the Inland Empire, including the cities of Fontana, Redlands, Riverside, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Victorville, Moreno Valley, Chino, and more. Call today!


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PC 286.5 Sexual Abuse of an Animal


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