criminal conversation

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Criminal Conversation

A tort under Common Law that involves the seduction of another person's spouse.

A few states still permit a lawsuit for damages by the injured spouse against the wrongdoer. Many states have abolished this action.

Criminal conversation is not the same as alienation of affection, which does not necessarily involve the commission of Adultery.

criminal conversation

formerly, a common law action brought by a husband by which he claimed damages against an adulterer.

CRIMINAL CONVERSATION, crim. law. This phrase is usually employed to denote the crime of adultery. It is abbreviated crim. con. Bac. Ab. Marriage, E 2; 4 Blackf. R. 157.
     2. The remedy for criminal conversation is, by an action on the case for damages. That the plaintiff connived, or assented to, his wife's infidelity, or that he prostituted her for gain, is a complete answer to the action. See Connivance. But the facts that the wife's character for chastity was bad before the plaintiff married her; that he lived with her after he knew of the criminal intimacy with the defendant; that he had connived at her intimacy with other men;, or that the plaintiff had been false to his wife, only go in mitigation of damages. 4 N. Hamp. R. 501.
     3. The wife cannot maintain an action for criminal conversation with her husband; and for this, among other reasons, because her husband, who is particeps criminis, must be joined with her as plaintiff.

References in periodicals archive ?
18) In one case, the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed damages for alienation of affection and criminal conversation "awarding] $1.
But even if alienation of affection could stand as a claim, criminal conversation is likely unconstitutional.
22) Both Erskine and Kenyon were able to amplify the meanings of adultery partly because of the nature of the criminal conversation trial itself.
While concurring with Binhammer's analysis in the main, I would qualify it in two ways: first, the regulatory effects of the discourses at work in the criminal conversation trial, especially under Kenyon and Erskine, were perhaps not as coherent as she suggests.
While she maintains that many states have abolished the torts of criminal conversation and alienation of affection, she admits that "in the states that do permit these torts, the number of cases filed appears to be rising.
I found Criminal Conversations enlightening and easy to read.
Korobkin devotes the final section of her book, "Female-Plaintiff Criminal Conversation Cases: Rewriting the Law's Story of Marriage," to a discussion of the process by which one legal fiction evolves into another.
Criminal Conversations raises important issues for scholars of literature and law and American culture and we can look forward to Korobkin's continuing contributions to these fields.
In Criminal Conversations, Laura Hanft Korobkin takes this observation more seriously than I did at the time.
One way to state the significance of Criminal Conversations is to position it, as Korobkin does, in relation to the well-known "Tompkins-Douglas debate" that began to structure literary-critical response to sentimentalism in the mid- 1980s.
Literary stories portraying women as emotional, so the argument goes, led courts to allow women to claim injury in cases of criminal conversation.
For a woman, the figurative charge of criminal conversation was whatever would single her out for publicized attack, whether in the law court, the press, or political cartoons, tarnishing her forever.