(720 ILCS 5/12-35)

Sec. 12-35. Sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal.
   (a) A person may not knowingly engage in any sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal.

From a pragmatic perspective, there’s not much to worry about with this law. So few of us harbor lustful thoughts toward our iguanas. (Google "Kenneth Pinyan" sometime, but not right after a meal.)

The reason it’s a bad law is that, well, it’s embarrassing to know that our legislature is thinking about cat-on-man sex. Or horse-on-man. Or serpents.

(i) In this Section:
    "Animal" means every creature, either alive or dead, other than a human being.
    "Sexual conduct" means any knowing touching or fondling by a person, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organs or anus of an animal or any transfer or transmission of semen by the person upon any part of the animal, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the person.
    "Sexual contact" means any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of a person and the sex organ, mouth, or anus of an animal, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of the person into the sex organ or anus of an animal, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the person. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual contact.
(Source: P.A. 96-1551, eff. 7-1-11.)

Take note, cat fanciers, that the Illinois Bestiality law allows you to rub your penis all over* your pet, so long as you ejaculate elsewhere. (There's no mention of the female orgasm; surprise!)

We have a law prohibiting cruelty toward animals. Isn’t that sufficient? It’s hard to imagine a human-on-animal sexual scenario, cruel or painful to the animal, that wouldn’t be proscribed by that law.

It’s a good law, too. Extra points to the legislature for considering the Crazy Cat Lady.

 

    (510 ILCS 70/2.10)
    Sec. 2.10. Companion animal hoarder. "Companion animal hoarder" means a person who (i) possesses a large number of companion animals; (ii) fails to or is unable to provide what he or she is required to provide under Section 3 of this Act; (iii) keeps the companion animals in a severely overcrowded environment; and (iv) displays an inability to recognize or understand the nature of or has a reckless disregard for the conditions under which the companion animals are living and the deleterious impact they have on the companion animals' and owner's health and well-being.
(Source: P.A. 92-454, eff. 1-1-02.)

Thus, the bestiality law is superfluous, except for our continuing obsession with regulating sexual behaviors. There’s a practical problem with this law, too. The mens rea qualification is “knowingly.” It’s not “purposely.”

Mens rea is the state of mind indicating culpability which is required by statute as an element of a crime. To fit this crime with a “knowingly” rather than a “purposely” mens rea creates some common culpabilities. For example, when your best friend’s dog sticks his nose in your crotch, and you know it, you may have just committed a felony.

Wikipedia's discussion of the different modes of culpability.

  • Strict liability: the actor engaged in conduct and his mental state is irrelevant. Under Model Penal Code Section 2.05, this mens rea may only be applied where the forbidden conduct is a mere violation, i.e. a civil infraction.
  • Negligently: a "reasonable person" would be aware of a "substantial and unjustifiable risk" that his conduct is of a prohibited nature, will lead to a prohibited result, and/or is under prohibited attendant circumstances, and the human-individual was not so aware but should have been.
  • Recklessly: the human-individual consciously disregards a "substantial and unjustifiable risk" that his conduct is of a prohibited nature, will lead to a prohibited result, and/or is of a prohibited nature.
  • Knowingly: the human-individual is practically certain that his conduct will lead to the result, or is aware to a high probability that his conduct is of a prohibited nature, or is aware to a high probability that the attendant circumstances exist.
  • Purposefully: the human-individual has the "conscious object" of engaging in conduct and believes or hopes that the attendant circumstances exist.

Have you ever been awakened by a pet licking your balls, or ladyparts?  I would certainly never admit that this happened to me, because it’s a crime. But I have met a dog who really, really likes having his lower abdomen scratched (if you know what I mean ;-).

The licking hypotethical begs a more radical question about this bad law: If the dog likes it, and human likes it, why has our general assembly stuck its nose in?

*Excluding the sex organs, mouth and anus, of course.