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Yes, adultery is a crime in North Carolina

In the state, Miller said you can sue the lover of your husband or wife for alienation of affection of criminal conversation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina couples were among the least happy during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, a new study shows, with almost 3% of the population making online divorce inquiries.

People split for many reasons, including adultery. But is it a crime to cheat on your spouse in North Carolina? WCNC Charlotte's VERIFY team went to legal experts in North Carolina to find the answer. 

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Is adultery a crime in North Carolina? 



Yes, adultery is a crime in North Carolina.

This is true.


To get the answer, lawyers say you'll have to go all the way back to the 1800s. 

"North Carolina statute was originally enacted in 1804," Miller said. "It was updated in 1994, and the legislature looked at it, and it's still in the books."

This law establishes a class two misdemeanor if any man or woman isn't married to each other "lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together."

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A class two misdemeanor means the person who committed that act of adultery could one to 60 days in jail or pay a fine of $1,000. But there are some stipulations. 

"It's not a one-time act," Miller said. "It has to be the act of living together and holding yourself out as husband and wife, and there is also the element of the sexual interaction."

North Carolina also allows people to sue the lover of their husband or wife for alienation of affection and criminal conversation. 

"You have to prove that the third party is responsible for the break up of the marriage," Miller said. 

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The way the law reads, this even applies to a couple in a relationship but isn't married. Miller said that although this is a crime, in her 15 years of working in law, she hasn't seen someone arrested yet for adultery. 

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Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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