Virginia Legislators Refuse To Decriminalize Adultery

Most Virginia residents are familiar with the fact that adultery can serve as a fault-based ground for your divorce. But did you also know that it is a crime? There aren’t many adultery charges brought in the Commonwealth each year, but they do exist. And though criminal laws like this have, for the most part, been repealed across the country because they are archaic and an invasion of privacy, the Virginia Assembly recently voted not to decriminalize adultery.


Adultery is a Class 4 misdemeanor in Virginia. This means that you will not serve time in jail if convicted, and the maximum fine is $250. However, Virginia prosecutors have had a hard time actually obtaining convictions for adultery. There have only been eight (8) throughout the past decade.


The many critics of Virginia’s adultery law contend that the Commonwealth should not be permitted to criminalize a person’s sex life. In essence, the argument against the law is that such criminalization violates an individual’s right to privacy for no legitimate purpose.

For years Virginia legislators have unsuccessfully attempted to repeal the criminal anti-adultery statute. State Senator Scott Surovell even proposed decriminalizing adultery and imposing a civil penalty instead. Cheaters would still have to pay a fine of up to $250, but they wouldn’t have a criminal record for their infidelity. Nevertheless, Sen. Surovell’s bill was defeated and adultery remains a criminal offense.

Whether or not it is a criminal offense, cheating is no joke and can end a marriage.

If you are considering filing for divorce based on adultery or other grounds, the qualified family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group are here to help you. The family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience with all family law issues in jurisdictions across Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Contact us today for a consultation at or visit our website.

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