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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 ?
02 Having pre-marital sex makes it easier for teens to have a good marriage and family life in the future.
Lyttleton suggests that the fining system associated with pre-marital sex provide one basis for widespread acceptance of paid sex.
Unwanted pregnancies have been on the rise because of an increasingly lax attitude toward pre-marital sex.
The BJP and some other parties feel this encourages pre-marital sex, since women have to be at least 18 years old to get married.
But these chaps, Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, his predecessor, represented a Church which, more than any other Christian organisation, has dared to infiltrate believers' bedrooms to preach that pre-marital sex is sinful.
The legal ordeal she had been through in the past five years came to an end last year after the Supreme Court dismissed all the cases that had been filed against her for allegedly advocating pre-marital sex.
The Adolescent Reproductive Health Programme, which includes issues relating to pre-marital sex, teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, is being piloted in 80 primary schools and 79 secondary schools around the country, and if successful will be expanded nationwide.
Pre-marital sex and having a child out of wedlock is not only deemed deeply shameful in Malaysia - a Muslim majority country, they are also punishable under criminal laws.
In a country and a region where pre-marital sex is so taboo, the debate over the virginity-faking kit has revived Egypt's constant struggle to reconcile modern mores with more traditional beliefs -- namely, that a woman is not a virgin unless she bleeds after the first time.
Thirdly the Church has not lost its battle against pre-marital sex and birth control.
Only 14 per cent of adolescents now see pre-marital sex as wrong and this rises by only one per cent among Christian young people.