Character evidence indicating the good or bad reputation of each party may be brought before the jury.
Evidence of a woman's sexual relationships with men other than the party to the adultery generally cannot be used; however, if her reputation as a prostitute can be demonstrated, it may be offered as evidence.
There must be a showing by the prosecutor that the accused party and another named party had sexual relations.
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Statutes attempt to discourage adultery by making such behavior punishable as a crime and by allowing a blameless party to obtain a Divorce against an adulterous spouse.
Although adultery has been historically regarded as a legal wrong, it has not always been considered a crime.
Suspicious activities and incriminating circumstances may be offered as Circumstantial Evidence.
Although the District of Columbia and approximately half of the states continue to have laws on the books criminalizing adultery, these laws are rarely invoked.
Initiation of Criminal Proceedings Under some statutes, a prosecution for adultery can be brought only by the spouse of the accused person although technically the action is initiated in the name of the state.
Other states provide that a husband or wife is precluded from commencing prosecution for adultery since those states have laws that prohibit a husband or wife from testifying against his or her spouse.
Voluntary sexual relations between an individual who is married and someone who is not the individual's spouse.
Adultery is viewed by the law in many jurisdictions as an offense injurious to public morals and a mistreatment of the marriage relationship.
In states that still have adultery laws on the books, but have failed to prosecute anyone under them recently, courts have ruled that the mere lack of prosecution under the adultery statute does not result in that statute becoming invalid or judicially unenforceable. Occasionally, adultery has been successfully asserted as a defense to the crime of murder by an individual charged with killing his or her spouse's lover.
Courts have also rejected the argument that prosecutions for adultery are inconsistent with the right to privacy guaranteed by state and federal constitutions. Courts are loath, however, to excuse the heinous crime of murder on the ground that the accused party was agitated about a spouse's adulterous activities.
In a few jurisdictions only the married party can be prosecuted for adultery.