Cheating On Your Spouse Could Soon Be Legalized in New York

Two hands exchanging wedding rings, one with red nail polish
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Adultery has been a misdemeanor in New York for almost 120 years, but that could all change soon if lawmakers get their way.

As reported by the Washington Post, New York lawmakers are looking to push a bill that could toss out a section of the state penal code that defines adultery as a Class B misdemeanor. While rarely enforced, violating the law by cheating on your spouse in New York is punishable by a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. So if you're thinking about being unfaithful, maybe just wait it out a bit longer.

"Anybody who’s charged with adultery, because it’s only a B misdemeanor, isn’t entitled to a jury trial," said bill sponsor, assemblyman Charles Lavine, in an interview with Politico earlier this month. "So they’re left to a judge to make the determination. It doesn't serve as a deterrent. It's a celebration of someone's concept of their own morality."

Per NBC New York, Lavine added, "It just makes no sense whatsoever and we’ve come a long way since intimate relationships between consenting adults are considered immoral."

The law has been in New York's penal code since 1907, but it's not the only state to have such a law. 13 additional states and Puerto Rico criminalize adultery as a misdemeanor, while it's still a felony in Oklahoma, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The law was implemented back when divorces were far more uncommon but could be legally obtained if adultery had been committed.

This isn't the first time New York has attempted to scrap the law, which has only been enforced a dozen times since it was implemented. In 1964, a legislative commission agreed that the law should be removed from the penal code. It ultimately didn't go through, because a lawmaker argued in 1965, per the New York Times, that it might be perceived as an endorsement of adultery to remove the law.

The last time the adultery charge was filed in the state was in 2010 when a woman engaged in a sex act in a park with a coworker. The charge was later dropped, however.

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