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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 ?
Our society is changing and in certain social classes pre-marital sex is becoming very common," he says, adding that access to contraceptives is not widely available.
For Abdul Jawad to be punished on the basis of admitting to pre-marital sex he would have to confess in a court-approved manner.
The mores might have changed, but do we really know, from the reports of the informants, that pre-marital sex was less common and parents less often abused, not only in the 1950s, but also in the 1930s and earlier?
I could not possibly justify pre-marital sex," she said yesterday in a bid to ease tension.
The Anglican diocese of the Arctic has given notice that it will not employ the following: anyone having pre-marital sex, homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals, those who willingly engage in sexual activities with a minor and with those whom they are counseling or supervising (excluding spouse) and those who fail to disclose a prior conviction on child sexual abuse.
The Washington Post revealed this week that 88% of youngsters who've taken virginity pledges go on to engage in pre-marital sex and yet they've been given wildly misleading and often inaccurate medical information - for instance that HIV can be spread via sweat and tears and condoms don't protect against disease.
The underlying message could not be about refusal because some parents thought that pre-marital sex was just fine.
But many also said the next pope should bring change because the church is out of touch with modern views on birth control, pre-marital sex, homosexuality and other issues.
In Western society pre-marital sex was strongly disapproved of until after World War II.
In fact, my mum and dad aren't against pre-marital sex and don't think I should wait until I get married - although obviously they wouldn't be very impressed if I went out and had sex with the first man I met.
The settlers wore bright clothing, they often drank heavily, believed in witches, had pre-marital sex and adulterous affairs, and committed both petty and serious crimes against their neighbors.
Jennifer writes about modern day relationships, how pre-marital sex is accepted, and the word "love" is just a word.