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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 ?
So disastrously received was the Ford Fornicator, sorry Probe, that they stopped building it in '97 and replaced it a year or so on with the Cougar.
He was a roisterer, a duellist, a fornicator and, as his old commander noted, possessed of a famously abusive tongue.
Vixi tells him in panic that the statue of Saint Joseph over the altar has supernaturally inclined itself in her direction, presumably to expose her as a fornicator. They flee.
Among the risque selection of 25 songs, included Nine Inch Will Please A Lady, The Fornicator and O Gin I Had Her.
Burns - that well-known "drunken fornicator" - is condemned by one particular ignoramus in a scene I recognise from my own schooldays.
Grand Khadi Aminu Ibrahim Katsina is still pronouncing: "The best deterrent is the death sentence for people to see what happens to a fornicator."
She reveals her marriage was a sham and her dead husband a fornicator who put one of the servants in the family way.
If Clinton eventually goes, Blair will look to some as though he backed a liar, a fool and a fornicator.
Mr Wright, who was a bishop until a week ago, is a liar as well as a fornicator.
He was a serial fornicator. He did not just stray but deliberately set out on the path of sin.
Vunipola, newly married and back in England camp, appears to finally have 'unliked' Folau's incendiary claim that 'hell awaits' for 'drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators'.
Back in the England camp, he appears finally to have 'unliked' Folau's incendiary claim that 'hell awaits' for 'drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators'.