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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 ?
This leads many to engage in pre-marital sex. "Pregnancies resulting from socially-unacceptable relationships are always condemned, which leads many women to seek clandestine abortions that are often done in extremely unsafe conditions," he says.
Another great injustice in pre-marital sex is that the woman is usually the one left with the responsibility of providing for the child.
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?
Chief Makoni has been quoted as looking down upon condom distribution and sex education in schools because, he says, it encourages promiscuity and pre-marital sex.
Within the abstinence factor, the questions "The best way for young people to avoid unwanted pregnancy ..." had a mean of 6.45 (SD=1.50), and "With all of the problems of unwanted pregnancy ..." had a mean of 6.68 (SD=1.02), "Having pre-marital sex makes it harder for teens ..." had a mean of 2.33 (SD=1.60).
Fines for sexual transgressions related to pre-marital sex can be converted into bride-wealth if the transgressing couple marry.
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.
They reject pre-marital sex, drugs, smoking, and drinking.
During the movie's press conference recently held in ABS-CBN, Matteo was asked what is his insight on pre-marital sex, which has been depicted in the series and now, in the movie.
According to statistics from the Department of Judicial Administration of the 129 cases of pre-marital sex in 2011 104 people were sentenced out of which 93 were female.