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Massachusetts Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

All states have laws prohibiting forced or coerced sexual conduct, but most states also have restrictions against certain types of consensual sexual activities. Some of the laws on the books are not enforced or have been declared unconstitutional. Examples of such laws are sodomy laws, which historically have been used to target same-sex partners.

Laws Related to Sexual Activity in Missouri

Review the following table to learn more about Massachusetts' prohibited consensual sexual activity laws, and see FindLaw's Sex Crimes section for related information.

Sodomy Laws Applicable

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 272, section 34 outlaws sodomy with a beast as a crime against nature.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional any sodomy prohibition designed to criminalize sexual activity between same-sex partners, while prohibitions on bestiality are still enforceable.

Penalty for Sodomy

For bestiality, an offender faces up to 20 years in prison.

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts

The following types of sexual activities are prohibited under chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws:

  • Section 16Open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior
    • Imprisonment for up to three years in the state prison,
    • Imprisonment in a jail for up to two years, and/or
    • A fine of up to $100.
  • Section 26Resorting to restaurants or taverns for immoral purposes
    • This section of the statute refers to patronizing "houses of prostitution" and is also applicable to patronizing prostitutes.
    • Offenses are punishable by a of fine of up to $500 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.
  • Section 29Dissemination or possession of obscene matter
    • Offenders face imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Section 35Unnatural and lascivious acts
    • Offenders face up to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $1,000.
  • Section 53Indecent exposure
    • Penalties include a fine of up to $200 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
Age of Consent Under most circumstances, the age of consent in Massachusetts is 16.Under section 23 of chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws, rape of a child is punishable by up to life in prison.For more information about statutory rape, consider reviewing FindLaw's page on the issue.
Prostitution Under section 8 of chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws, it is a crime to solicit prostitutes or receive compensation for soliciting prostitutes (pimping). Offenders face imprisonment for up to 2.5 years and/or a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000.
Incestuous Marriages or Sexual Activities Under section 17 of chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws, it is a crime to engage in incestuous marriages or sexual activities. Offenders face up to 20 years in the state prison or up to 21.5 years in the house of correction.

Research the Law:

Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about all laws in Massachusetts, including those related to sexual activity:

Related Resources for Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws:

Considering reviewing the following resources for more information about laws and legal issues related to sexual activity, as well:

Need More Help? Speak with an Attorney

If you have been arrested or are being investigated for a sex crime, you may consider speaking with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney. Defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney are entitled to representation by an attorney at criminal proceedings. You may contact the local public defender's office.

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