Criminal Adultery Charges and Penalties

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 have 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.

Dealing With Adultery

Adultery is the most serious offence in a marriage because it breaks the trust and union (oneness) between a husband and his wife. It is the height of marital selfishness, an absolutely wicked atrocity, and a very serious sin against God. When you commit adultery in your marriage, you are basically telling your spouse to “go to hell”, and directly telling your children, family members, friends, congregation and God that they are not as important as your accomplice. Your adultery will scar your children for life, even more than the rugged road to divorce, which could finally break them.

The impact of adultery is so severe on children that it is akin to parental abuse, neglect and abandonment. A lifelong regrettable act, adultery insults and disowns everyone that truly cares about you and your family. When your spouse commits adultery, it is no one’s place to tell you what to do. So I will only be sharing strategies that we have used to help others to recover from this malicious act. First and foremost, though, I will reiterate that unless the husband and wife are strongly willing to put in the time and effort to make their marriage work, the marriage will eventually stalemate.

A marriage that has been rocked by adultery will require a lot of time and effort from both the husband and wife to rebuild. It must be rebuilt and not mended as generally indicated. Mending is the act of putting broken pieces together, while rebuilding gives you the opportunity to start afresh. Mending requires you to put the same pieces together, while rebuilding gives you the opportunity to introduce new pieces, and even a totally different structure altogether. This is why we have created a three-step program to help victims and perpetrators of adultery recover from the impact – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Our program has both intense and relaxing components, with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exercises designed to energize your body, enlighten your mind, and enrich your soul. Here is a recap, which should help you in your honourable desire to “still make your marriage work”. Friend, heaven applauds you for still willing to make it work!

Three Proven Steps of Recovering from Adultery

1. Process of Healing:

If your spouse committed adultery, remorse on his or her part is absolutely required to heal the marriage, while absolute forgiveness on your part is equally crucial. There is no recovery and healing without remorse and forgiveness. This requires time and effort – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Moreover, both of you cannot undergo the Healing Process on your own; you require the help of an experienced marriage counsellor and coach whose programs have strong spiritual flavours. If your spouse is not truly sorry for committing adultery and/or you have not truly forgiven your spouse, then you have a marital deadlock.

In the Healing Process, which could last a long time, we tactfully engage the couple in dialogues that are structured to strategically extract forgiveness and remorsefulness from the deepest part of their hearts.

2. Process of Rebuilding:

At some point of the Healing Process, we will introduce the Rebuilding Process, with an objective to help the couple fall in love with each other again. While the Rebuilding Process helps to solidify the Healing Process, the effectiveness of the Rebuilding Process depends on the success of the Healing Process. Lots of time and effort is further required from both of you to overcome the inestimable impact of adultery in your marriage, with a strong focus on getting to know, trust and love each other all over again. Fun is key in this component.

This is where both of you start going out on dates together, while consistently performing activities to build companionship, support and intimacy. As the victim of adultery, it would likely be hard at first, for you would still have some mental struggles with the fact that the person sitting in front of you recently “stabbed you in the back”; however, we exhort you to persist in this Rebuilding Process with an open mind. For then and only then would you be able to see beyond the associated emotional injury to the remorseful heart of your spouse.

Adultery Criminal Laws and Their Effects

Adultery is also known as philandery or infidelity is basically a form of extramarital sex. Originally it referred to sex between a married woman and another person other than her spouse. Illegal in some countries, its difference from rape is that while rape involves use of force; adultery is voluntary. Having a Judeo-Christian origin, the concept is present in almost all religious factions of the world.

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.

Legal consequences of adultery that is considered a criminal act, does not end with divorce alone. It could result in a civil lawsuit against the spouse committing adultery. Besides the emotional trauma as well as the fallout faced by the subjects of adultery and consequential criminal laws, they could even land up in jail serving punishment on criminal charges.

Scenario is however changing pretty rapidly. Only few states in United States have adultery statute in place. Many states on the other hand abolished the statute altogether. Of course the states like Florida are an exception that still considers the adulterer as criminal. Open adultery is still a punishable criminal offence in Florida. Unique feature of adultery criminal laws in Florida is that even though only one of the persons involved in adultery is married, both can be charged with criminal offences of open adultery.

Thus, in Florida a person guilty of open adultery can face imprisonment up to 60 days and fines up to $500. In addition such person will also have a criminal record adding insult to injuries. In result it would be difficult getting jobs, loans, and other such financial and career benefits.

People charged with commitment of adultery should consult an efficient and reputable criminal lawyer to get appropriate advice. Such lawyer would be the right person for protecting the civil rights of the client.

Adultery – A Matrimonial Offense

Adultery may be defined as a voluntary sexual intercourse by a married person with a partner other than his/her spouse. Therefore, the definition of adultery brings out a few ingredients, which are:

It is a voluntary act of the parties. A forceful act cannot be termed as adultery
Adultery can be indulged into only by a married person. A sexual intercourse by an unmarried person cannot be termed as adultery
The sexual intercourse should be with a person other than the adulterer’s spouse

Therefore, all the above 3 ingredients are important for an act to be termed as adultery.

Now a question arises that why are we discussing adultery; this is because this is a ground for divorce in the Indian Marriage Laws. The act of adultery is not a ground for divorce for the moral turpitude involved in it but for voluntary surrender to another person of the reproductive organs of the guilty person. Hence, adultery is actually an offense against the spouse in a marital relationship and not an offense of moral turpitude.

A question which comes up during discussions with married people, whose spouses have indulged in adultery, is a question of howto prove it during a divorce proceedings. As a divorce proceeding is civil in nature, the proof need not be as strict as in a criminal case and therefore proof beyond reasonable doubt is not required.

Adultery can very rarely, if ever, be proved by the direct evidence of witnesses who saw the parties in flagrante delicto and witnessed the act. In most cases, the evidence must be circumstantial in character and must depend upon the situation spoken to in regard to which the act is alleged, and the probabilities relating to that situation (Subbarama Reddiar vs Saraswathi Ammal). Therefore, a direct evidence is not required to prove adultery, infact direct evidence, if produced in the court, could be negative. The reason is that adultery is a secret act and it is highly improbable that there could be a witness to such a secret act (Pattayee Ammal vs Manickam Gounder). Only proof of preponderance of probabilities is required to prove adultery. In common parlance this means that the proposition is most likely to be true in a given situation. If the probability is more than 50% that the given proposition being true, the test of preponderance of probability is met and the proposition is considered to be true.

Hence, from the above discussion, we understand that

Direct evidence is not required to prove adultery, infact direct evidence may be treated negatively by the courts
The proof need not be strict in nature as in case of criminal offenses. Proof of adultery is not to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’
The test of preponderance of probability is applied to civil matters such as divorce proceedings

Howto prove adultery?

In the case of Samuel Bahadur Singh vs Smt. Roshni Singh the hon’able judge had held that ‘The Court usually infers adultery from the fact that the respondent wife shared a bed or bedroom for the night with a person of opposite sex other than the petitioner or from the fact that the respondent had been carrying on an association with a person of the opposite sex other than the petitioner and there is evidence of illicit affection or undue familiarity between them coupled with an opportunity for them to have committed adultery.’ Therefore we can understand from the above, to prove adultery, the petitioner has to prove that his/her spouse

Voluntarily shared a private moment with a person of the opposite sex such as a bedroom, an apartment etc…

Has an illicit affection or undue familiarity with the person of the opposite sex. This implies acts of the spouse which are generally forbidden by law, rules or customs of the society and which tend to generate suspicion in the mind of a person

The spouse and the person of opposite sex should have an opportunity to commit adultery. For example, if the accused spouse and the other person are in a room alone for a few moments, the 3rd condition is not satisfied as there is no opportunity for them to commit adultery.

All the above 3 conditions viz. voluntarily sharing of a private moment, illicit affection/undue familiarity and opportunity to commit adultery should exist at the same time when the said act of adultery is alleged to be performed. This is required so that the conditions of preponderance of probability is met.