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Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other.

Under the Common Law, the crime of fornication consisted of unlawful sexual intercourse between an unmarried woman and a man, regardless of his marital status. If the woman was married, the crime was Adultery.

Today, statutes in a number of states declare that fornication is an offense, but such statutes are rarely enforced. On the theory that fornication is a victimless crime, many states do not prosecute persons accused of the offense.

Under modern-day legislation, if one of the two persons who engage in sexual intercourse is married to another person, he (or she) is guilty of adultery. Statutes in some states declare that if the woman is married, the sexual act constitutes adultery on the part of both persons, regardless of the man's marital status.

Fornication is an element of a number of Sex Offenses such as rape, Incest, and seduction.

Although penalties are seldom enforced, they usually consist of a fine, imprisonment, or both. In November of 1996 an Idaho prosecutor brought fornication charges against a teenage couple in an effort to curb teen pregnancy.


n. sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other. This usage comes from Latin fornicari, meaning vaulted, which became the nickname for brothel, because prostitutes operated in a vaulted underground cavern in Rome. Fornication is still a misdemeanor in some states, as is adultery (sexual intercourse by a married person with someone not his/her spouse), but is virtually never prosecuted. If such anachronistic laws were enforced, the jails of America would have no room for robbers, murderers and drug dealers.

References in periodicals archive ?
identify aspects of participants' acceptance of people having sex before marriage using a scale designed for that purpose;
Fewer tweens and teens now (44%) than in 1989 (53%) think that sex before marriage is "OK if a couple loves each other.
The research included a YouGov poll of more than 4,000 people of various religious persuasions, including atheists, who were asked whether they would feel guilty if they used contraception, had an affair or sex before marriage and other issues.
Attitudes towards sex before marriage have also become substantially more liberal.
The pair attended the same Christian church - which allowed ``heavy petting'' but banned sex before marriage.
Sex before marriage is an abomination, she declares.
She admitted then that they'd had sex before marriage as well, though she'd eventually gone to her bishop and confessed.
By foregoing sex before marriage, one is almost forced to focus on everything else one must do to learn how to live on the broader plane of existence that marriage demands.
I was told not to wear tight jeans because it was tempting to men and that if I even thought about having sex before marriage, my man would cheat on me.
Washington, May 23 ( ANI ): Olympic athlete Lori 'Lolo' Jones has revealed that she is still a virgin, and insisted that keeping her vow of not having sex before marriage has been harder than even training for the games.
net, the complaint came after the actor had said publically that he encourages young people to have sex before marriage in order to gain experience, a matter that is completely against the teachings of Islam.
She doesn't approve of sex before marriage and makes it as awkward as possible for us to sleep together.