Adultery Laws in New York


A crime of passion is one that happens when a person’s emotions overcome their rationality. Love leads us to do strange things, and in some cases, it leads people to do things they’d never consider doing otherwise. Murder, assault, and theft are common examples, but there’s another crime of passion we rarely think of: adultery.

Is adultery illegal in New York, and if so, what sort of punishment would an offender face? A local criminal defense attorney can help you understand New York’s laws and apply their legal knowledge to your case.

Is Adultery an Illegal Crime in New York?

According to the state’s penal code, adulterers face Class B misdemeanor charges. People are deemed guilty if they engage in intercourse with someone else while they or the other person are married. If you’re found guilty of these charges, you may face a three-month jail sentence and a maximum fine of $500.

Examples of Adultery

Not only could you face criminal charges for sleeping with someone else while married, but the other party could also wind up in court. These cases are rarely prosecuted, but the law could be used against you in a divorce case or by a spouse who wants revenge.

While adultery is still technically illegal in New York, it’s very rare for a person to be convicted of the crime. Since 1972, there have only been a few adultery cases taken to court; out of roughly a dozen cases, only five people were convicted. Of that number, every person had committed other crimes and adultery was added to the charges.

Why is it uncommon for adulterous spouses to face charges? It’s a matter of common sense. Times have changed, as have people’s views on fidelity and marriage. Additionally, a person can’t be prosecuted for adultery based on testimony from participants. In simple terms, you won’t go to jail simply because your partner accused you of adultery; there must be evidence that the act occurred.

When Adulterers Should Hire an Attorney

If you are facing accusations of adultery in the state of New York, it’s important to get help from a qualified defense lawyer right away. While most people believe that the state’s adultery law is outdated, all criminal charges are serious matters. Having a lawyer on your side can defend you from criminal charges that stem from adulterous actions.

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