Is Adultery Still a Crime in the United States?

Jennifer R. Povey
2 min readSep 12, 2022
Photo by Antonio Uquiche on Unsplash

Not everyone has a closed marriage. Some people have a relationship agreement that allows for certain activities outside of their primary relationship. This is a form of consensual nonmonogamy. Contrary to popular understanding, people in these relationships can still cheat. There are typically rules. For example, a rule might be that you never bring the other person to the home. Or that you always use condoms.

So, one question you might ask is…are these people committing a crime? Is adultery actually still illegal?

The answer, of course is, it depends.

Where is Adultery Still a Crime in the U.S.?

In 2022, adultery by some definition is still a crime in 16 states: Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Idaho, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, New York, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

However, adultery is not always defined the same. For example, in North Carolina, the legal definition of adultery is to “lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together.” So, if you just pick somebody up at a bar, that’s not a crime. But if you have a secondary partner you spend weekends with…it’s a problem.



Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.