Massachusetts Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

All states have laws prohibiting forced or coerced sexual conduct, but most states also have restrictions against certain types of consensual sexual activities. Some of the laws on the books are not enforced or have ben declared unconstitutional, such sodomy bans applicable to same-sex partners. In Massachusetts, prohibited consensual sexual activity laws include bans on indecent exposure and public lewdness.

Review the following table to learn more about Massachusetts' prohibited consensual sexual activity laws and see FindLaw's Sex Crimes section for related information.

Sodomy Laws Applicable

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 272, section 34 outlaws sodomy by both sexes or sodomy with a beast as a crime against nature.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional any sodomy prohibition designed to criminalize homosexual behavior. 

Penalty for Sodomy

The penalty for sodomy is imprisonment for not more than twenty years.

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts

The following consensual sex acts are barred under chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws:

Section 16: Open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior Charged as a felony and punishable up to three years in prison or by fine of not more than $300;

Section 26: Resorting to restaurants or taverns for immoral purposes

Punishable by a of fine not more than $500 or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both;

Section 29: Dissemination or possession of obscene matter Defendants face imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine of not more than $10,000;

Section 35: Unnatural and lascivious acts

Crimes charged as a felony are punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment of not more than five years;

Section 43: Disorderliness in public conveyances; disturbance of travelers

These crimes are a misdemeanor under Massachusetts law;
Section 53: Indecent exposure

Penalties include a fine of not more than $200 or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both.

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If you have been arrested or are being investigated for a sex crime, you may consider speaking with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney. Defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney are entitled to representation by an attorney at criminal proceedings. You may contact the local public defender’s office. 

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