Adultery – is it an illegal act?

Committing adultery can get you in trouble in many ways. First and foremost, a discovered adulterer will have to face an infuriated, disgusted, and wounded spouse and family. Adultery threatens to completely dissolve the home and supportive life that a family builds together. In many states, adultery is grounds for a fault-based divorce and may be grounds to initiate a civil lawsuit against the adulterous spouse.

In addition to all of this emotional trauma and fallout, some states take the consequences further by listing adultery as a crime. In addition to the emotional and financial penalties that you face, you may be forced to serve a punishment for criminal charges as well.

Adultery Laws in the U.S.

Only a handful of states still has a criminal adultery statute. Most have ceased to prosecute individuals who commit adultery or have abolished the statute altogether. A few states, however, still believe that the criminal adultery law has its place in modern society. Florida is one of the states that still considers adultery to be illegal, and a violation is a criminal offense.

Adultery and Florida Law

In the state of Florida, the law specifies that a person may be criminally charged if he or she is “living in open adultery”. Anyone found to be engaging in extramarital relations may be found guilty of adultery. Furthermore, both individuals in the extramarital relationship may be charged with adultery, even if only one of the couple is married. This means that an unmarried individual engaging in an affair with a married person may be charged with “living in open adultery” as well.

Charges and Penalties

Under Florida law, “living in open adultery” is a second-degree misdemeanor. A person found guilty may be penalized as follows:

-Imprisonment: Up to 60 days in jail

-Fines: Up to $500 in fines

In addition to these court-ordered penalties, a person found guilty of adultery will have a criminal record. This can add insult to injury by further tarnishing an individual’s personal and professional reputation. A criminal record can also make it more difficult to find or keep a job, secure a loan, or successfully apply to an educational institution. Clearly, even one instance of adultery can have costly criminal and civil penalties that can cause irreparable harm to you and your family.

The degree to which an affair factors into a divorce proceeding will depend on the state of the marriage before the affair as opposed to while it was ongoing. If the marriage was already rocky when one spouse began an affair, it may not have much influence on the court’s decision. If the marriage was going well until the affair began or was discovered, the judge will likely give it much more weight when determining how to divide marital assets and child custody. It could also affect the judge’s decision to order the cheating spouse to pay child support and/or alimony.

Committing adultery brings up several consequences like an enraged spouse at home and possible dissolution of the family and supportive life. Despite the fact that such family and supportive life was built up with a lot of efforts on part of the couple involved, adultery can disrupt their life. On the other hand adultery, criminal laws in force in the country where it is committed can bring up serious consequences for the offender. In any case, it could constitute pertinent grounds for fault-based divorce.

If you have been charged with adultery, it is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will protect your legal rights throughout your court proceeding and will fight to defend your case against an overzealous prosecution.

Sources: 1, 2, 3