Man Faces Criminal Charges for Sexual Activity with Dog
December 9, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes Social Share
Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of sexual conduct.
Florida Legislature has made it illegal for citizens to engage in any sexual activity with animals. Often referred to as “bestiality,” these types of charges can have serious consequences if the accused person is convicted.
A recent case in Florida highlights the charges that can come with bestiality accusations after a man was witnessed having sex with a dog. This article will provide information on the case, the charges the defendant received, and what possible defenses are available for someone facing a similar charge.
What was the Incident?
Chad Mason, 36, was arrested in Clearwater, Florida after witnesses reported seeing him engage in sexual activity with a dog. According to the Clearwater Police Department’s Facebook post, Mason was seen having sex with a Goldendoodle in the 2600 block of McMullen Booth Road.
The arrest affidavit claimed that Mason knew the owner of the dog and had been walking the Goldendoodle around the apartment complex. Several people at the apartment complex—including a juvenile under the age of 16—witnessed the act and confronted Mason, who then took off running.
Clearwater police said the suspect then, “began to wreak havoc in the surrounding area.” According to the report, Mason entered Northwood Presbyterian Church where he knocked over a nativity display, broke several potted plants, and threw various toys from their playground. According to police, the damages to the church were around $400.
The suspect then took off and fled to a nearby neighborhood. Mason destroyed a house’s mailbox and attempted to steal a car from the neighborhood. Clearwater deputies managed to apprehend him and booked him into jail.
Mason has been charged with sexual activity involving animals, two counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition, two counts of exposure of sexual organs, criminal mischief, and criminal mischief to a place of worship.
Sexual Activity Involving Animals
In legal terms, the word “bestiality” is often referred to as “sexual activity involving animals.” Under Florida Statute section 828.126, the term “sexual contact with an animal” is defined as any act between a person and an animal for the purpose of sexual gratification, abuse, or financial gain which involves any of the following:
- Contact between the sex organs or anus of one and the mouth, sex organ, or anus of the other;
- The fondling of the sex organ or anus of an animal; or
- The insertion 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.
Florida law prohibits a person from partaking in any of the following:
- Knowingly engaging in any sexual contact with an animal;
- Knowingly causing, aiding, or abetting another person to engage in any sexual contact with an animal;
- Knowingly permitting any sexual contact with an animal to be conducted on any premises under his or her charge or control;
- Knowingly organizing, promoting, conducting, aiding, abetting, participating in as an observer, or advertising, offering, soliciting, or accepting an offer involving an animal for the purpose of sexual contact with such animal, or performing any service in the furtherance of an act involving any sexual contact with an animal; or
- Knowingly filming, distributing, or possessing any pornographic image or video of a person and an animal engaged in any of the activities prohibited by this section.
Any person who violates the above law can be charged with a third-degree felony in Florida. A third-degree felony has a penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
This does not apply to practices involving animal husbandry for agricultural purposes, such as birthing or artificial insemination of an animal, as well as judging practices or accepted veterinary medical practices.
Exposure of Sexual Organs
Florida Statute section 800.03 defines the unlawful exposure of sexual organs as when a person exposes his or her sexual organs in public or in the private premises of another person, or so near thereto as be seen from such private premises, in a vulgar or indecent manner.
In addition, being naked in public in a vulgar or indecent manner also violates section 800.03. It’s important to note, that Florida’s legislation does not consider a mother breastfeeding her baby to be a lewd or indecent exposure.
For a first-time offense, an exposure of sexual organs charge is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor in Florida has a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
If the defendant is charged with a second or subsequent violation, then they can be charged with a much more serious third-degree felony. A third-degree felony in Florida has a penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years of imprisonment.
Criminal Mischief to a Place of Worship
Criminal mischief is the legal term for vandalism or graffiti in the state of Florida. An individual can be charged with criminal mischief if they are accused of willfully and maliciously damaging any personal property or real estate belonging to another person, which includes but is not limited to the placement of graffiti or other acts of vandalism.
A standard criminal mischief charge can result in a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. However, Florida Statute section 806.13 explains that enhanced penalties are put into place depending on several factors, which include the value of the damage caused during the commission of the crime.
One instance of more severe penalties for a criminal mischief charge can result from the commission or attempted commission occurring at a place of worship. Under the same Florida Statute, any person who willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages any church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of holy worship can be charged with a much more serious third-degree felony. A third-degree felony in Florida can result in up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
To learn more about criminal mischief and other types of crimes involving public property, you can visit our informative blog page here.
Possible Defenses Against Sexual Activity with an Animal
Most often, defendants present the defense of not having committed the charged offense, also known as the “I didn’t do it” defense. This can be a powerful way to prove a defendant’s innocence, especially when an alibi exists. However, not all cases allow a defendant to raise these types of defenses, so what’s left?
First, it’s important to understand that Florida’s prosecutors are tasked with proving each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This is normally not a simple task, but when the crime specifies that the offender must have had a specific intent things get more complicated.
To prove the crime of Sexual Activity with an Animal, depending on the specific facts regarding the offense, the State’s prosecutor must prove one of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
The Defendant either knowingly:
- engaged in sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal.
- caused or aided or abetted another person to engage in sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal.
- permitted sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal to be conducted on any premises under [his] [her] charge or control.
- organized, promoted, conducted, advertised, aided, abetted, participated in as an observer, or performed any service in the furtherance of an act involving sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal for a commercial or recreational purpose.
A skilled criminal defense attorney normally ensures that the prosecutor presents evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt each element of an offense. As previously stated though, when the offense requires a specific intent, things can be more difficult for the prosecution.
To put it simply, crimes are normally either specific or general intent offenses. General intent crimes are simpler to prove by the prosecutor, as they only need to prove that the offender intended to commit the charged crime and that such an act is illegal in Florida. On the other hand, specific intent crimes require more and are therefore harder to prove.
Specific intent crimes typically include in their description that the offender intended to commit the illegal act by using words like knowingly, maliciously, intentionally, willfully, purposefully, etc. This means that if the offender did not possess the requisite intent, then they may not be convicted for that offense.
Regarding the crime of conducting sexual activity with an animal, the person must knowingly commit the above-described actions. That means that if the offender can prove that they did not intend to commit the charged offense, they may be able to be acquitted.
Defendants who may have been under the influence of mind-altering substances may be able to show that they lacked the required intent. If the person charged was involuntarily intoxicated, they may be able to be excused from the actions that they committed while being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
To learn more about the Involuntary Intoxication Defense, click on our link here.
This is also when an Affirmative Defense can come in to show that the defendant did not have the required specific intent.
Affirmative defenses come into play when the defendant admits to the alleged offense but avoids either all or some of the liability. This can happen if the offender is able to introduce what can be considered as an excuse. The ‘excuse’ can potentially justify the defendant’s actions at the time that the charged offense occurred.
A common example of an affirmative defense is an Insanity Plea. While the insanity defense is ubiquitous with many serial killers like Jeffery Dahmer or other pop-culture criminal tv shows, there is a very good reason why it is so widely known throughout our culture.
This type of defense can hold a negative connotation in our society. However, if a charged defendant was not in their right mind at the time of the offense, the Justice System does not seek to punish them for actions that they didn’t intend to do. However, the defendant must provide clear and convincing evidence proving that their mental state was suffering due to a mental illness, disease, infirmity, or defect.
This is when an experienced expert witness is necessary, as their testimony can help the jury understand the situation affecting the defendant and why they should determine that insanity was at fault during the commission of the offense.
To learn more about Florida’s Insanity Defense, click on our informative blog here.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, it is in your best interest to first speak with an experienced defense attorney in your area. Sex crimes are often prosecuted harshly in the state of Florida, leaving those convicted with expensive fines and potential imprisonment.
Don Pumphrey and his team have years of experience representing clients in Florida for various criminal charges. Our Tallahassee criminal defense attorneys vow to stand in your corner throughout the legal process and strategize a strong defense for your case. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.
 AMENDMENTS TO JURY INSTRUCTIONS INVOLVING SEX CRIMES, 4/15/2018 FLBN 24
Written by Karissa Key