Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia?

Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia? Have you committed adultery in Virginia?  

If yes, you might wonder about the possible legal consequences of adultery and how to deal with them.

Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia
Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia

Every state deals with adultery in different ways. 

In this article, we will discuss adultery laws in Virginia and the legal consequences you may face for committing adultery.

Knowing the law helps you build a strong defense and protect you from legal consequences.

Let’s delve deeper into adultery and whether you can go to jail for committing adultery in Virginia.

Adultery law in Virginia

Adultery is a legal term that denotes extramarital affairs, which means any married person involved in a voluntary sexual relationship with another person not being their legally wedded partner.

Adultery is a taboo that not only destroys the foundation of marriage, also considered objectionable at the religious, moral, social, and legal levels. The punishment may vary according to the country’s law. 

In today’s era, very few countries consider adultery a crime.  However, adultery plays a significant role in the divorce process in most countries.

As in most states, adultery is illegal in Virginia.

According to Virginia Code § 18.2-365, adultery is defined as any married person involved in a voluntary sexual relationship with another person not being their legally wedded partner is said to commit adultery. A person guilty of committing adultery is liable to be punished as a class 4 misdemeanor.

In short, forming a sexual relationship outside the marital bed is a class 4 misdemeanor in Virginia.

Although adultery is considered a criminal act under Virginia law books, it rarely gets prosecuted.

However, when it comes to divorce, adultery plays a significant role. 

According to Virginia code § 20-91 adultery is a legal ground for divorce.

Can you go to jail for committing adultery:

Offenses are divided into two broad categories mainly: 

  • Felony 
  • Misdemeanor

A felony denotes a serious nature offense in which punishment varies from 1 yr to life imprisonment with or without a fine. 

On the other hand, misdemeanor denotes petty offenses or minor wrongdoing typically punishable with a maximum of 1year imprisonment or fine only. 

According to Virginia Code § 18.2-365, whoever being a married person gets engaged with another person not being their legally wedded spouse is guilty of adultery and liable for punishment as a class 4 misdemeanor.

A class 4 misdemeanor is the least serious misdemeanor for which an offender does not serve any prison sentence but gets punished with a fine only. A Class 4 misdemeanor prescribes a punishment of a $250 fine only.  

Therefore, the person who commits adultery won’t go to jail for their actions; they can get away with a $250 fine.

However, the fact that adultery is a criminal act; has serious implications for divorce cases.

Adultery impact on your divorce case:Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia?

Although you can easily get off with criminal prosecutions, adultery carries grave implications; when it comes to divorce cases. 

According to Virginia code §20-91, adultery is considered a legal ground to seek divorce.

Adultery can put you at a serious disadvantage during the divorce process while finalizing some significant issues like:

  • Alimony
  • Property distribution
  • Child custody

Effect of adultery on Alimony

Alimony or spousal support gets granted to the non-earning spouse or less-earning spouse; so they can maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage. 

Courts consider several factors before allowing or denying spousal support. One of those factors is adultery. If you committed adultery, you might get denied spousal support.

Effect of adultery in Property Distribution

In Virginia, property gets distributed equally between both spouses. However, if you have committed adultery and spend marital funds on your lover, your partner may get a bigger share of the marital assets as compensation for the loss.

Effect of adultery in Child Custody

When deciding the issue related to child custody, judges give child welfare the most importance. They consider several factors to know each parent’s fitness for custody.

Here, the alleged party may question the parental fitness of the defendant based on adultery. 

Thus you may lose your child custody case due to adulterous behavior.

Standard of proof for adultery

The standard of proof for adultery is greater than any other ground in Virginia. 

Thus, it is difficult to prove adultery in Virginia. Courts require clear and convincing evidence of adultery to grant a divorce. 

The alleged party has to prove that their partner is engaged in a sexual relationship with another person.

Emotional or mental affairs do not fall under the definition of adultery.

Thus, the petitioner would need to prove adultery beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the most difficult task.

Fifth Amendment right

As adultery is considered a crime, the defendant can invoke their fifth amendment right, which protects US citizens against self-incrimination during a criminal trial. 

Thus, the alleged adulterer can ‘plead the fifth’ during divorce proceedings and refuse to give any testimony or statement that may have a self-incriminating effect.

These rights create another layer of difficulty for the petitioner to prove adultery.

However, the alleged party can produce third-party testimony or other corroborating evidence to support their claim.

A text or email can get used to prove adultery. However, a text about planning a dinner date, watching a movie together, or planning a trip is not enough to prove adultery. A confession made by the defendant via text or email to the alleged party meets the standard of proof.

Thus, any confession or photograph that proves the intensity of your relationship may get used to prove the alleged offense. 

Wrapping up

Adultery can take a serious toll on your life and invite many legal consequences. Thus, prepare in advance to deal with these obstacles. Knowing the law helps you explore the legal options available and limit the effects of adultery.

Consulting an experienced attorney when dealing with legal issues is always the best bet. 

An attorney can guide and assist you in building a strong defense and achieving a favorable legal outcome. Thus, getting expert advice is a smart choice.

Read also: How to prove adultery in Virginia? ; Adultery in the United States; Is adultery a crime in Australia?

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