§711-1108 Abuse of a corpse. (1) A person commits the offense of abuse of a corpse if, except as authorized by law, the person:
(a) Treats a human corpse in a way that the person knows would outrage ordinary family sensibilities; or
(b) Accepts the donation of a dead human body or any of its parts.
(2) An entity to whom body parts are entrusted commits the offense of abuse of a corpse if, except as authorized by law, the entity to whom body parts are entrusted disposes of a dead human body without a disposition permit. Disposal of a dead human body includes removal of body parts or organs; provided that it shall not be an offense for a procurement organization to remove body parts or organs for transplantation or therapy prior to obtaining a disposition permit.
(3) The preparation of a corpse for burial or cremation in a manner consistent with traditional Hawaiian cultural customs and practices shall not be a violation of this section.
(4) The burial or cremation of a corpse prepared consistent with traditional Hawaiian cultural customs and practices shall not be a violation of this section.
(5) Abuse of a corpse is a misdemeanor.
(6) For the purposes of this section, "procurement organization" has the same meaning as defined in section 327-2. [L 1972, c 9, pt of §1; gen ch 1993; am L 2015, c 171, §2; am L 2020, c 43, §4]
COMMENTARY ON §711-1108
This section prohibits any sort of outrageous treatment of a human corpse, including sexual contact (necrophilia) and physical abuse. It does not, of course, relate to legally authorized activities of undertakers and physicians. Knowledge that ordinary family sensibilities would be outraged must be proved.
Previous Hawaii law prohibited the disinterment, disturbance, or scattering of any human body that has been legally interred. Section 711-1108 is more comprehensive in coverage.
1. H.R.S. §734-3.
SUPPLEMENTAL COMMENTARY ON §711-1108
Act 171, Session Laws 2015, amended this section to recognize and support traditional Hawaiian burial or cremation practices by clarifying that the preparation, burial, or cremation of a corpse in a manner consistent with Hawaiian cultural customs and practices is not a violation of the Penal Code's prohibition of abuse of a corpse. The legislature found that Act 171 was necessary to address confusion about whether the use of traditional Hawaiian customs and practices to prepare human remains for burial or cremation and the burial or cremation of a corpse prepared consistent with those customs and practices violate the law. Senate Standing Committee Report No. 339, House Standing Committee Report No. 1383.
Act 43, Session Laws 2020, amended this section to provide that: (1) the offense of abuse of a corpse includes when a person accepts the donation of a dead human body or any of its parts; and (2) an entity to whom body parts are entrusted commits the offense of abuse of a corpse if the entity disposes of a dead human body without a disposition permit. The legislature found that anatomical gifts of human bodies, elected by individuals prior to their death, are vital to the education and training of medical students. Act 43 protected vulnerable donors and their loved ones from making anatomical gifts to people or entities other than recipients who are capable of handling bodies with care and respect for legitimate medical or research purposes. The legislature further found that Act 43 would also prevent body donations to people or entities who may not take the necessary steps to create a death certificate and obtain a disposition permit for the body. Senate Standing Committee Report No. 3754.