Should adultery be a crime?

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It's rarely prosecuted, but, in Florida, Tiger Woods' place of residence, adultery is still a crime; that also goes for several other states. Now, one of those states, New Hampshire, is discussing the possibility of repealing that law.

"When we say it's not a crime in Texas, we talking about from the legal aspect," said Rev. Ralph Caraway. "But, universally it's a crime."

"Some of my clients have had situations where adultery occurred 10, 15 years ago and they're still shattered," said Laurie Ann Frank, a licensed clinical social worker. "They're still rebuilding."

"Marriage is sacred," said Caraway. "Marriage was created and designed by God, and anytime adultery is committed, a crime is committed."

"There are adultery laws in some other states and they're currently is a debate about whether those should be abolished or rescinded," said Natalie Fletcher, an attorney in family law.

Fletcher says, in Texas, adultery is not a crime. However, according to the Texas Family Code, with proof, adultery is a cause and basis for divorce.

"With technology, you get emails," said Fletcher. "You've got people with low jacks on cars, you've got telephone records [and] you've got your good old fashioned investigator."

But, should it be a crime?

"It's a crime to commit murder, yet people do it," said Fletcher.

Frank, says prosecuting adultery isn't necessary.

"I think sometimes the family doles out the punishment when you get into the victim and the victimizer," said Frank.

For nearly a decade, Frank has counseled families torn apart by a mother, father, husband or wife's decision to cheat.

"When you lose that safety and that trust, it's very hard to rebuild," said Frank. "Sometimes you never rebuild."

"Children are hurt and also some of them build a stigma about marriage to the point where some of them may never marry," said Caraway. "Adultery destroys families. It destroys trust. It destroys relationships. Anything that weakens marriage is going to weaken this country."

In Florida, adultery is a second degree misdemeanor. If charged and found guilty, Tiger Woods could face six months of prison time and a $500 fine. By comparison, adultery is a felony in Michigan and punishable by up to four years in prison. Adultery is a criminal offense in at least 10 states.

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