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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It provides that the presiding officer of a court taking cognizance of an offence shall at once examine on oath the complainant and at least two eyewitnesses to the act of fornication. If in the opinion of the court there is sufficient ground for proceedings the court shall issue summon for the personal attendance of the accused.
The couple had also forced 23-year-old M.G., wife one of their sons, and their 12-year-old niece, A.F., to perform belly dancing and fornication for money.
Ali Al-Hamdan, the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, also described tourist marriages as "legalized fornication" and blamed the strange fatwas issued by some scholars for the phenomenon.
The position of the authors is contrary to church teaching about the intrinsic evil of fornication. Certainly they are not spokespeople for the church regarding human sexuality and sacramental marriage.
Time was when Morrissey had trouble distinguishing aesthetic and ascetic; if he wasn't wailing about the world's temptations and flaws (fornication, religion, Big Macs), his job as a pop star was incomplete.
I found his pale body attractive, but his technique was a variation on the theme of painting by numbers - fornication by numbers.
"Revival cleanses the soul of two things: guilt and shame." Sheldon went on to explain the four causes of cultural disintegration: same-sex relationships, fornication, adultery, and sexual hedonism.
to my Rescue." (80) Now, it lamented, "Fornication is to be scandalous." (81) The societies rode the cusp of a new age in which male heterosexual behaviour was policed in the name of a middling-class desire to hold both sexes to the same standard.
It's driving music, fornication music, cleaning music, sporting music, tanning music ...
The real object of Franklin's hoax was a law against fornication, which Franklin believed to be unreasonable.
Sir, -Your article (Post, Jun 20) concerning events at the Custard Factory on the evening of the Summer Solstice, implied a connection between requests by the rock band, Inkubus Sukkubus, for a 'quiet area for fornication' and the celebratory Druid ritual performed by us earlier the same evening.
What medieval Christian leader wrote, "Thus even Christ, who was so righteous, must have been guilty of fornication before he died"?