A person commits an offence if the person engages in a sexual activity of any kind with an animal. This offence is known as Beastiality and is governed by Section 63A of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT). It carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years.
The offence of beastiality was only reinstated into legislation in 2010-11 after having been repealed in 1985, before the ACT obtained self-government. ACT sentencing statistics show that only one person has been dealt with under Section 63A since the offence was returned to the statute book, and a good behaviour order was imposed.
The Offence Of Beastiality
The offence of bestiality is set out at Section 63A of the Crimes Act, which provides, “A person commits an offence if the person engages in a sexual activity of any kind with an animal.”
The Legislation Act 2001 provides, at Section 189, that a reference to an offence against an ACT law includes a reference to an offence against the Criminal Code, part 2.4.
This makes it an offence to attempt to commit any criminal offence. A person found guilty of attempting to commit an offence must be found to have carried out conduct that is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence attempted.
The maximum penalty for attempting to commit the offence is the same as for the offence itself. If a person is found guilty of attempting to commit an offence, the person cannot later be charged with committing the offence.
What Actions Might Constitute Beastiality?
There is no definition of bestiality in the Crimes Act; however, there is case law that states that the definition would include any form of sexual intercourse with an animal: R v Brown (1889) 24 QBD 357.
Penetration is not required for an offence under this section to arise, as long as there is behaviour that can be defined as some form of sexual intercourse: R v Bourne (1952) 36 Cr App R 125.
As such, both men and women can commit an offence under this section: R v Packer  VLR 225.
What the Police Must Prove
To find a person guilty of a charge of bestiality, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that they carnally knew an animal.
To convict a person of a charge of attempt to commit bestiality, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that they attempted to carnally know an animal.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
As the offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, you can choose to have your case go before a judge and jury in the Supreme Court or you can consent to the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court, where the maximum penalty that can be imposed is two years.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.