Whether you feel sexual activity shouldn’t be regulated by the law or you feel sexual mores should be enforced by states, you should know the law where you live. It’s becoming increasing rare for states to outlaw consensual sexual activities between adults. However, some states do continue to have laws against adultery and sodomy, although these laws are usually not enforced or are unenforceable.
Maine does have some laws related to consensual sexual activities, such as a protecting a non-consenting viewer of genitals or sexual activity or requiring a person accused of a crime having to submit to an HIV/AIDS test.
Constitutionality of Regulating Sexual Activity
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Lawrence v. Texas that Texas’ same-sex sodomy law was unconstitutional. The court felt Texas couldn’t regulate consensual, non-commercial (i.e. prostitution) sexual activity between adults in the privacy of their own homes. The Supreme Court has stated adults do have a right to liberty and privacy, even in consenting sexual choices.
Also, the Texas sodomy law discriminated between homosexual and heterosexual couples doing the same sexual thing. Lawrence v. Texas is the case precedent that the court must consider in deciding similar sexual liberty cases in the future. Hypothetically, let’s say Maine passed a law that oral sex (even between married couples) couldn’t be done on Sunday (much as hunting isn’t permitted on Sunday in Maine). This would likely be unconstitutional because why should the state know the intimate details of consenting adult couples? It violates their right to privacy.
An area of much confusion in “consenting” sexual activity is statutory rape. Some people believe having a sexual relationship with a minor who's under the age of consent is consensual sex, but it just isn’t legal. A child under the age of consent doesn't have the legal capacity to consent, so it is still non-consensual sexual activity, also known as rape.
In Maine, a child under 16 can’t consent to sexual acts. However, Maine does have a “Romeo & Juliet” law to protect those partners who are less than 5 years older than their sexual partner from a sex crime charge. This only applies to sexual activity with 14 or 15 year olds. Therefore, if you’re 17 and have sexual relations with a 13 year old, you wouldn’t be protected. The following laws don’t include rape or sexual abuse laws because those aren’t consensual.
Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity in Maine
The follow chart lists the prohibited consensual sexual activity laws in Maine.
||While adultery isn’t illegal in Maine today, it can be grounds for divorce.
||Maine repealed the criminal sodomy law in 1975.
|Crimes Relating to Consensual Sexual Acts
||A person is guilty of indecent conduct if he or she:
- Engages in a sexual act in a public place
- Exposes his or her genitals in circumstances likely to alarm others
- Exposes his or her genitals in a private place where they can be seen in a public place (like the sidewalk) or another private place (like the neighbor’s home or the same home if to alarm them)
Typically, indecent conduct is a Class E crime, but if the defendant has two or more prior convictions, it’s a Class D crime. A Class E crime can be penalized sentenced to up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. A Class D crime can be sentenced to at most one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
|Compelled Testing of HIV/AIDS
||A victim of a sexual crime or that person’s parent or representative can ask the court to order a convicted sexual offender be tested for HIV/AIDS within 180 days after the conviction.
Note: State laws are revised often, please conduct your own legal research or contact a knowledgeable attorney to verify these criminal laws.
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