An individual's consensual sexual activities are none of the state's business, for the most part. But most states made it a crime to engage in so-called "unnatural" sex acts under sodomy laws, which tended to single out gays and lesbians (even in the privacy of their own homes).
However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state sodomy laws that criminalized consensual acts in 2003. Despite the Court's ruling, some consensual sexual acts are still considered crimes -- mainly when they involve third parties in an offensive or threatening manner, such as exposing one's genitals or engaging in public sex acts. This is an evolving area of law that typically reflects the times and the unique culture of each state.
Rhode Island Laws Prohibiting Certain Consensual Sexual Acts
Rhode Island's sodomy law makes it a felony to engage in a sex act with an animal (although this type of offense would hardly be considered consensual). In addition, the state prohibits indecent exposure, loitering for indecent purposes, and solicitation for indecent purposes.
Additional provisions of Rhode Island laws prohibiting certain kinds of consensual sexual activities are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's Sex Crimes section to learn about prohibited non-consensual sex acts.
|Sodomy Laws Applicable to||(Sodomy laws pertaining to consensting adults were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court)
|Penalty for Sodomy||11-10-1 Sodomy with beast: felony; not more than 20 nor less than 7 years|
|HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders||23-11-1 Exposing another person to sexually transmitted diseases: misdemeanor; fined $100 or imprisoned not more than 3 months;
11-34-10 Person convicted of any provision of this chapter shall be tested for HIV;
21-28-4.20 Any person convicted of possession of a hypodermic needle associated with intravenous drug use shall take an HIV test
11-37-17 Upon request of the victim, any person convicted of committing a sexual offense involving sexual penetration shall be tested for STDs, including HIV/AIDS
|Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts||11-45-1 Disorderly conduct: imprisonment for not more than 6 months or fine not more than $500, or both;
11-34-8 Loitering for indecent purposes: misdemeanor
11-34-8.1 Soliciting from motor vehicles for indecent purposes: misdemeanor
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the decisions of higher courts, the enactment of newly signed legislation, and other means. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you may also want to contact a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Rhode Island Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources
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