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New York May Repeal Law That Made Cheating on Spouse Illegal

Adultery may soon be legal in New York thanks to a bill in the legislature, which would repeal the 1902 law that made cheating on a spouse punishable by up to three months behind bars, reports the Associated Press. Still active in several states, adultery bans were originally implemented to reduce the number of divorces a time when an accusation of adultery was the only way to obtain a legal separation. Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan still have laws on the books that treat adultery as felony offenses. Several states, including Colorado and New Hampshire, have moved to repeal similar laws.

Adultery is currently classified as a misdemeanor in New York. Only about a dozen people have been charged under New York’s law since 1972, and of those, just five defendants were convicted. The last adultery charge in New York appears to have been filed in 2010 against a woman who was caught engaging in a sex act in a public park, but it was later dropped as part of a plea deal. Assemblyman Charles Lavine sponsored the bill because the law never enforced and because prosecutors shouldn’t be digging into what willing adults do behind closed doors, he said.


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