All right, you legal beagles, what does it mean

…in penal statutes when reference is made to the “Crime Against Nature”? Often the word “infamous” is prefixed to it, but obviously it was something so horrible that the codifiers shrank from describing this offense more explicitly.

I have an idea it has something to do with sex, but what exactly?

The paralegal’s friend, Black’s, says this:

*Deviate sexual intercourse per os or per anum between human beings who are not husband and wife and any form of sexual intercourse with an animal. Model Penal Code ss 213.0. Crime of buggery or sodomy. *

Mushroom hunting is not included in this definition.

IANAL, but:


Note if the URL above doesn’t work, you can go to and search for it.

As the previous posts have suggested, it’s a common-law term for sodomy or bestiality. Most states have replaced the common-law crime with more explicit statutory definitions.

  • Rick

I came across the term in a 1930 California Penal Code (God I need to get a life).

You know, if there ever was a prosecution made on the strength of these laws the ACLU would doubtless get the laws written off the books. And they’d have public sympathy, too, seeing as how the government has no business in a person’s bedroom (caveat: Crimes such as abuse, pedophelia, etc. are horrible crimes and definitely need to stay crimes. The transgressions outlined in the laws above are merely strange, not violent, abusive, or malicious. I hope my point is clear.)

Heh, heh. I’d like to see just how explicit the modern statutory definition of bestiality is.

You know, a picture would be worth a thousand words–but that’s illegal, too.

Derleth, I you really believe that, I would suggest that you stay out of Georgia if you indulge (even with your spouse).

Thanks, tomndebb. I’m aware of the state of intolerance in this country. I’m just saying the legal reality has changed so much since those laws were passed the said laws are no longer defensible. But I might be surprised.

If I remember right, more than one couple has turned themselves in to the authorities here in Virginia, confessing to such crimes as sex other than the Missionary and other interesting things.

The Commonwealth has to my knowledge not yet taken the bait. If true (and I’m not saying it is), this is one example whereby the state ain’t biting because by attempting to convict, they would almost certainly invite appeal to a higher, less blue-of-nose, authority.


There is no law in Virginia that requires couples to use a particular sexual position. Any couples “confessing” to that act are not describing a crime.

However, Virginia does proscribe other acts, which are, on information and belief, quite common between consenting adults. And since you expressed an interest in seeing how the statute is phrased, here is the Code of Virginia regarding crimes against nature:

  • Rick


Actually, this type of law has been upheld from just such a challenge, by the US Supreme Court no less, as Tom hinted in his reference to Georgia.

A summary of the decision in [!28[group+syllabus!3A]!7C[level+case+citation!3A]!29/doc/{@1}/hit_headings/words=4/hits_only?"]Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986)]([group+478+u!2Es!2E+186!3A):

After being charged with violating the Georgia statute criminalizing sodomy by committing that act with another adult male in the bedroom of his home, respondent Hardwick [note: did they choose the accused in this test case because of his name?] brought suit in Federal District Court, challenging the constitutionality of the statute insofar as it criminalized consensual sodomy. The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the Georgia statute violated respondent’s fundamental rights.

Held: The Georgia statute is constitutional.

man, I’m having trouble with links tonight - try this one: Bowers v. Hardwick.

20 years for sodomy! Holy crap!

A list of those filing amicus curiae briefs for reversal (of the Georgia Supreme Court ruling finding that the law violated Hardwick’s “fundamental rights”) provides a nifty, if outdated, list of homophobic jerks.

In any event, it seems that the case mostly considered the question of whether Georgia’s statute abridged the fundamental rights of homosexuals, not the question of whether the state had the ability to ban sodomy in general. The dissenting opinions, by Blackmun and Stevens, did address this question, and seem far superior in quality all around. Stevens’ dissenting opinion (joined by Marshall and Brennan) ends thusly:

And Blackmun’s (joined by Brennan, Marshall, and Stevens) ends thusly:

I would agree with both of these positions. Maybe someday the majority of the Court will as well.