Wisconsin Watch, a nonprofit newsroom, is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Sign up for our newsletter for more stories straight to your inbox.
Wisconsin’s adultery law prohibits married individuals from having sexual intercourse with anyone who is not their spouse. It was enacted in 1849.
The law states that anyone who commits adultery is guilty of a Class I felony, which carries a maximum $10,000 fine and 3.5 years in prison.
Several states continue to have such fornication and adultery laws criminalizing extramarital sex on the books. But it has been decades since anyone was prosecuted under such laws, including in Wisconsin.
Some states have made efforts to remove or amend these laws in recent years. But some lawmakers have resisted such initiatives, fearing pushback from constituents who believe eliminating bans on extramarital sex could lead to moral decay.
Wisconsin State Legislature: Wisconsin statutes: 944.16 adultery
Google Books: A Guide to America’s Sex Laws: Page 110
New York Times: Adultery as a crime: Old laws dusted off in a Wisconsin case
Wisconsin State Legislature: Wisconsin Legislature: 939.50