It is all about Power!
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In the act of bestiality animals cannot consent unlike a child orally, even though it is arguable that a child under the age of consent can actually consent. Sexual assault whether the victim is an animal or a human (child or adult) is about power and control. Even more with animals than children, cannot given any verbal consent.
Application: Can a Sheep be a Victim?
Michigian Court in 2008 concluded that a wild or domesticate animal "Cannot get married or have a guardian in a legal sense."
In 2008, the State of Michigan defendant, Hayes, plead no contest to the charge of “abominable and detestable crime against nature with a sheep.” People v. Haynes, 281 Mich. App. 27 (2008). The defendant was sentenced to thirty to four hundred and twenty months (30 to 420 months) or two and half years to thirty-five (2.5 to 35 years) of imprisonment due to the fact it was the defendant’s fourth offense and a habitual offender under MCL §769.12. Additionally, trial court found the defendant’s actions were sexual perversion and order the defendant to register as a Sex offender under Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA), MCL §§28.721 to 28.736. Defendant appealed the order requiring him to register as a sex offender. The court began their analysis with the presumption the Legislature intended the clear meaning of the statutes plain language and must be enforced as written.
“Any person who shall commit the abominable and detestable crime against nature either will mankind or with any animal shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 15 years, or if such person at the time of the said offense a sexual delinquent person, may be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which shall be 1 day and the maximum of which shall be life.” MCL §750.158
Under MCL §750.158 Defendant was charged and convicted of, is comprised of two crimes: sodomy and bestiality. Bestiality is broader in range of conduct then Michigan’s common law definition of sodomy and includes “any sexual connection between a human being and an animal...” Additionally, under SORA an individual is required to be registered if they commit an offense listed in the act. The court finds that a victim is an individual and an individual is defined as a single human being or person who is capable of having a spouse, being married, or a guardian. Therefore, the court concluded animals either wild or domesticated cannot be married or have a guardian in the legal sense. A victim is defined as a “person who suffers direct or threatened physical, financial, or emotional harm as a result of the commission of an offense and a person is an individual, organization, partnership, corporation, or government entity.”
The court concluded that the offense of bestiality is not listed as an offense pursuant to MCL §28.722(e)(ii) and nor did the legislature intend for bestiality to be included because an animal is not a victim. Therefore, the court rejected the State’s argument and vacated the requirement for the defendant to register under SORA.
Application: Are Animals Victims in Oregon?
Yes, for the purposes of the Anti-merger statute only in the state of Oregon animals are considered victims.
In 2008, the state of Oregon held in State v. Nix, a horrific animal cruelty case, for the purposes of the state’s anti-merger statute animals are deemed to be victims and can be counted individually and separately. In State v. Nix, the Defendant was convicted of twenty counts of second-degree animal neglect in Oregon pursuant to ORS §167.325. Due to a tip, the police entered the Defendant’s farm and found dozens of emaciated animals, mostly horses. The Defendant was found guilty of twenty (20) counts of second-degree animal neglect pursuant to ORS 167.325 (2009). At sentencing, the trial court judge merged the twenty (20) counts, explaining animals are not victims.
The State appealed arguing that the trial court erred by merging all twenty (20) counts into one (1) count.The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision and reasoning “meaning of the term ‘victim’ as it is used in the anti-merger statute is determined by reference to the underlying substantive criminal statute that the Defendant violated." The defendant appealed to the Supreme Court renewing his argument that animals are not victims, but property. Pursuant to ORS §161.067, Oregon anti-merger statute, “When same conduct or criminal episode violates one “victims,” there are “as many separately punishable offenses as there are victims.”
The issue before the Supreme Court was whether or not, under the meaning of anti-merger statute, an animal can be defined as a victim. The court found that according to the dictionary, the common meaning of the word victim is “applies to anyone who suffers either as a result of ruthless design or incidentally or accidentally...”Holding that a victim used in ORS §161.067(2) can include humans and non-human animals as there is nothing in statute’s text, context, or legislative history, which precludes animals. The court reasoned that because of substantive criminal statute, ORS §161.067(2), Defendant violated was intended to protect individual animal victims from suffering neglect. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision.
Here, the court deemed animals as victims, which is step in the correct direction, it is only under Oregon’s anti-merger statute.
Can farm animals be victims?
In State v. Nix, Oregon Supreme Court held that under the Oregon Anti-merger statute animals are considered victims it is only animals that fall under the definition of an animal in the Oregon’s animal cruelty statute. Pursuant to O.R.S §167.315, "Animal Abuse in the Second Degree":
(1) A person commits the crime of animal abuse in the second degree if, except as otherwise authorized by law, the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes physical injury to an animal. (2) Any practice of good animal husbandry is not a violation of this section.
Additionally, in O.R.S. §167.310(3) an animal is defined as “any nonhuman mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian or fish.” The statute also defines a domestic animal as “an animal, other than livestock or equines, that is owned or possessed by a person.”
But livestock is defined as the following: As used in ORS §§609.135 to 609.190, “livestock” means ratites, psittacines, horses, mules, jackasses, cattle, llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, swine, domesticated fowl and any fur-bearing animal bred and maintained commercially or otherwise, within pens, cages and hutches.
Therefore, while the definition of animal is broad enough to allow farm animals or livestock to be included but it does exclude “Good animal husbandry." Good animal husbandry is defined as the following: "... includes, but is not limited to, the dehorning of cattle, the docking of horses, sheep or swine, and the castration or neutering of livestock, according to accepted practices of veterinary medicine or animal husbandry.”
It is important to note that it is only in Oregon that animals are considered victims under the Oregon Anti-merger statute. It is unlikely in any other state or in any other situation that animals, especially farm animals, will be considered victims as they are deemed property. In the circumstances of farm animals, showing any animal cruelty that occurs in a slaughterhouse or on a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) or Animal Feeding Operation (AFO), is a huge struggle with convicting people of animal cruelty because of all industry practices will be common knowledge and would cause the industry to lose money.