Learn more about the legality of adultery in Arizona.
Believe it or not, there is a law in Arizona that states that if a married person files a complaint against his or her spouse claiming that the spouse had sexual intercourse outside of marriage with another person, the cheating spouse may be found guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
The law is found in the Arizona Revised Statutes, ARS 13-1408, and it states:
A. A married person who has sexual intercourse with another than his or her spouse, and an unmarried person who has sexual intercourse with a married person not his or her spouse, commits adultery and is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor. When the act is committed between parties only one of whom is married, both shall be punished.
B. No prosecution for adultery shall be commenced except upon complaint of the husband or wife.
What is a Class 3 Misdemeanor?
Class 3 misdemeanors are the least severe class and the maximum penalty is up to 30 days in jail, up to $500 in fines, and up to 1 year of probation.
But there’s a catch. This “crime” is not currently being enforced. Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that neither spouse has to prove blame or responsibility to end the marriage. Adultery doesn’t necessarily mean anything in a divorce legal case because of Arizona’s no-fault status. On top of that, there aren’t many cops out there that would arrest a cheating spouse. State-level adultery provisions are rarely, if ever, enforced. Why do they stay a statute then? Unenforced laws also stay in existence due to the efforts of social-conservative activist groups and legislators.
Would fewer people cheat on their spouse if they knew it was a misdemeanor? Should adultery be punished as other misdemeanors are?