Nevada law outlaws bestiality, which is when a person deliberately performs sex acts on a non-human animal. People can also be convicted of bestiality by aiding others in engaging in sex with animals or by merely photographing acts of bestiality.
Bestiality under NRS 201.455 is a gross misdemeanor as long as the animal did not get seriously harmed or killed. The penalty is a maximum $2,000 and/or 364 days in jail. Otherwise, human-animal sex is a category D felony carrying 1 - 4 years in Nevada State Prison and possibly $5,000 in fines. It may also carry Nevada sex offender registration.
People convicted of the Nevada sex crime bestiality also have to give up their pets and may have to pay for counseling, animal care, and restitution.
In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about the Nevada offense of bestiality, including legal definitions, possible punishments, animal ownership consequences, potential defenses, record seal wait-times, and immigration issues. Click on a topic to jump to that section:
- 1. What is bestiality in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. Can I go to jail for bestiality in Las Vegas, NV?
- 3. Can I keep my pets if I am convicted of bestiality in Las Vegas, NV?
- 4. How do I fight bestiality charges in Las Vegas, NV?
- 5. When can I get my bestiality case sealed in Las Vegas, NV?
- 6. Can a NV bestiality conviction get me deported from the U.S.?
Also see our article and videos on animal cruelty laws in Nevada.
The Nevada crime of bestiality under NRS 201.455 occurs when someone knowingly and intentionally:
- Engages in sexual conduct with an animal; or
- Causes another person to engage in sexual conduct with an animal or aids or abets another person in engaging in sexual conduct with an animal; or
- Permits any sexual conduct with an animal to be conducted on any premises under the control of the person; or
- Engages in, organizes, promotes, conducts, advertises, aids, abets, participates in and is physically present as an observer, or performs any service in the furtherance of an act involving any sexual conduct with an animal; or
- Photographs or films, for purposes of his or her sexual gratification or the sexual gratification of another person, a person engaged in sexual conduct with an animal.
"Sexual conduct" means any sexual act involving:
- The genitalia of a person and the genitalia, anus or mouth of an animal;
- The genitalia of an animal and the genitalia, anus or mouth of a person;
- Any insertion, however slight, of any part of the body of a person or of a foreign object into the genitalia or anus of an animal; or
- Any touching or fondling by a person, directly or indirectly through clothing, of the genitalia or anus of an animal.
Obviously, merely petting or cuddling an animal is perfectly legal.1
Bestiality is typically punished as gross misdemeanor if the animal involved is not killed or sustains serious bodily injury. A penalty includes:
- up to $2,000 in fines, and/or
- up to 364 days in jail
But if the animal involved did die or sustain serious bodily injury, bestiality is prosecuted as a category D felony. The sentence includes:
- one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
- maybe $5,000 in fines
Note that if the defendant had previously been convicted of violating NRS 574.100 (one of Nevada's animal torture laws), then a defendant in a bestiality case will automatically face category D felony charges even if the animal was unharmed. The punishment is:
- one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
- maybe $5,000 in fines
The defendant will also have to give up his/her pets. The defendant may also be required to register as a sex offender. Scroll down to question 3 to learn more.2
2.1. Additional penalties:
In addition to any fines and/or incarceration imposed, a Nevada court may order a person convicted of bestiality to comply with any or all of the following:
- Undergoing a psychological evaluation and any recommended counseling; and/or
- Paying all reasonable costs incurred for the care and maintenance of the animal involved in the crime and any other animal relinquished by the person; and/or
- Reimbursing the owner of the animal for all medical expenses incurred for treating the animal (if the person convicted of bestiality is not the owner of the animal involve)
The defendant is responsible for paying for any psychological evaluations or counseling.3
In addition to fines and possibly incarceration, people convicted of bestiality in Nevada must relinquish all animals in their household to an animal shelter, an organization that takes into custody animals which have been abused or neglected, or a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Furthermore, people convicted of bestiality in Nevada are not allowed to own, keep, or exercise control over animals for a period of time that the court determines. This means they may not live in any house where an animal is present. Nor may they work or volunteer for a business or shelter where they have access to an animal.4
It depends on the facts of the case...
The judge should drop the case if the defendant can show that the alleged criminal acts were not bestiality but instead either:
- Any accepted practice of animal husbandry which provides care for an animal; or
- Any accepted method of insemination of an animal for the purpose of procreation; or
- Any accepted practice relating to conformation judging; or
- Any accepted medical procedure performed by a licensed veterinarian while engaging in the practice of veterinary medicine or by his or her employee while acting under his or her supervision.5
Other possible bestiality defenses include:
- The defendant was not acting knowingly and intentionally, perhaps because he/she was unconscious or in an extremely impaired mental state; or
- Someone falsely accused the defendant; or
- The animal assaulted the defendant instead of the other way around
Common evidence in these cases may include photographs, video, eye-witness testimony, and veterinary records and expert witnesses. Either way, the defense attorney would try to convince the prosecutor that the state's evidence is too insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Note that it is not a defense to bestiality charges that the animal involved did not resist or put up a fight.
It depends how the case resolves...
- If the bestiality charges get dismissed or the defendant gets acquitted at trial, then the defendant can pursue a record seal right away.6
- If the defendant get convicted of bestiality as a gross misdemeanor, he/she can pursue a record seal two (2) years after the case closes.
- And if the defendant gets convicted of bestiality as a category D felony, the waiting time to pursue a record seal is five (5) years after the case closes.7
Note that Nevada law currently forbids the sealing of sex crime convictions involving only humans.8 At some point, Nevada legislators may decide to include bestiality among the list of non-sealable crimes.
This is a grey area. But it is possible that an immigration judge would interpret bestiality in Nevada to be a crime involving moral turpitude, especially because Nevada's definition of bestiality requires the defendant to have acted "knowingly and intentionally." Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
Note that the federal crime of bestiality does not qualify as a crime involving moral turpitude. This is because the federal definition of bestiality does not require that the defendant acted intentionally.9
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...
If you have been charged with bestiality in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. We may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed so that you keep your pets. And if necessary, we are ready to take the case to trial and zealously argue your innocence to a jury.
Arrested in Colorado? See our article on Colorado obscenity laws.
- Nevada Assembly Bill 391 (2017); NRS 201.455.
- NRS 179.255.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.245.
- 10 U.S.C § 925; Adam P. Feller, "Serve Honorably, Foreign-born Service Member, or Risk Deportation: Determining Whether a Conviction Under The UCMJ Constitutes A Deportable “Crime Involving Moral Turpitude” Under The Immigration And Nationality Act," The Air Force Law Review, Volume 26 (2016).