New York adulterers could get tossed out of house but not thrown in jail under newly passed bill



ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A little-known and rarely enforced law from 1907 that makes adultery a crime in the state of New York could soon be a thing of the past, after lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday to repeal it.

The state Senate approved the bill almost unanimously. It’s now up to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is in the midst of budget negotiations, to make the ultimate decision. Her office said she’d review the legislation. The state Assembly passed the measure last month.

Laws banning adultery still exist in several states throughout the country, but they are seldom enforced. The New York law was initially implemented to bring down the number of divorces at a time when adultery was the only way to secure a legal split.

Adultery, classified as a misdemeanor in state penal code and punishable by up to three months behind bars, is defined in New York as when a person “engages in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse.”

The statute has stayed on the books for more than 100 years but has been infrequently used in recent decades. The latest 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 bargain.

Adultery is still a crime in several other U.S. states, mostly as a misdemeanor, though Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan treat it as a felony offense.


Maysoon Khan is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Maysoon Khan, The Associated Press

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