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Alabama Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Although the saying goes all is fair in love and war, the same is not true for sexual activity, even when both parties consent to the act. The classic example in the U.S. is sodomy or anal sex. In many parts of the country, old Puritanical or Biblical laws are on the books that prohibit couples from engaging in oral or anal sex, even if both parties have consented to do so. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 found that sodomy laws applied to consenting adults are unconstitutional. Therefore, these types of state laws, including Alabama’s, may be on the books, but aren’t enforceable.

Another example some people think is a consensual sexual activity is a person having a sexual relationship with a minor who's under the age of consent in a state, commonly known as statutory rape. It’s irrelevant if the child consents because the consent of a minor is invalid. Therefore, it can’t truly be considered consensual. Alabama considers any child under 16 incapable of giving consent to sexual acts. The following laws don’t include rape or sodomy, which by definition is not consensual.

The follow table explains broadly the prohibited consensual sexual activity laws of Alabama.

Consensual Sex Related Crimes Alabama law prohibits several types of consensual sexual activities, including:

Sexual Misconduct – One type of illegal sexual misconduct is called “deviate sexual intercourse” and is any oral or anal sex involving unmarried persons. So, Alabama feels if you’re married, feel free to go hog wild in the bedroom. However, the Constitutional right of privacy prohibits this law and the Equal Protection Clause doesn’t allow this differentiation between married and unmarried couples.

Indecent Exposure – It’s a crime to exposes one’s genitals to arose oneself or another person, knowing the conduct is likely to cause alarm in any public place or another person’s private premises. This is illegal because it’s arguably not consensual activity as the defendant is actively exposing himself or herself in front of unsuspecting individuals who probably don’t want to see the defendant’s genitals. Most adults and children past potty training know better.

Public Lewdness – Exposing one’s anus or genitals in a public place recklessly disregarding whether others may be present and offended or any lewd act in public knowing others are likely to observe and be offended is illegal. Again, this behavior, although done by oneself, affects others whose consent wasn’t acquired before exposing one’s body parts sexually. These offenders forgot that consent is sexy.
Knowing STD/HIV Exposure Knowingly transmitting or putting someone at risk of transmission of an STD, including HIV, is illegal in Alabama, as it is in many other states. Getting tested and using protection if you’re HIV positive is not only the moral thing to do, in Alabama, it’s the law.
Penalties The penalties for the above crimes are:
  • Sexual Misconduct or “Deviate Sexual Intercourse” is a Class A misdemeanor that’s subject to up to a year in jail and up to a $6,000 fine.
  • Indecent Exposure is also a Class A misdemeanor that can be penalized the same as sexual misconduct.
  • Public Lewdness is a Class C misdemeanor, the lowest misdemeanor. The penalty for Class C misdemeanors is not more than three months in jail and a fine of $500.
  • Knowing STD transmission is also only a Class C misdemeanor, despite the potential long-term consequences to the offender’s victim(s).

Note: As state laws change frequently, it’s important to conduct your own legal research to verify any laws you’re researching or contact an experienced Alabama sex crimes lawyer.

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