Sex and the law is an expansive topic. Often, the idea behind these laws depends on what, exactly, is involved. Most criminal laws related to sex seek to punish sexual assault while protecting children and the public from lewdness or indecency. On the other hand, constitutional and statutory provisions generally protect a reasonable expectation of privacy for consenting adults. There can also be public health issues relating to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and promoting safe sex or abstinence.
This article summarizes prohibited consensual sexual activity laws in Vermont. The focus here is on lewdness, public indecency, and similar offenses. Separate articles cover sexual assault and prostitution, and there's a separate section on same-sex rights in general.
Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws
At times throughout history, states have banned sexual activity between same-sex partners. They have done so through anti-sodomy laws. However, in 2003 the Supreme Court of the United States weighed in on this matter.
In that year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Lawrence v. Texas. In that case, a man challenged his conviction in Texas for having sex with another man in the privacy of his own home, which violated a state anti-sodomy law. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional and unenforceable. In the wake of that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, all anti-sodomy laws, as they apply to consenting adults, became unconstitutional and unenforceable.
As a consequence, Vermont has not had an anti-sodomy law on the books for some time. However, like every other state, Vermont has laws that pertain to sexual activity.
The chart below breaks down the laws in Vermont that relate to sexual activity.
Sodomy Laws Applicable to
|There is no anti-sodomy law in Vermont.
Penalty for Sodomy
HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders
Under Vermont Statutes §1705, the perpetrator of a sexual offense involving risk of transmitting HIV to the victim must submit to testing for HIV and other STDS upon conviction.
|Under Vermont Statutes §2601, it is a crime to engage in gross lewdness and lascivious behavior. Offenders face a term of imprisonment of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $300. Examples of such behaviors that this statute prohibits are public exposure and public sexual activity.
Age of Consent
|Under most circumstances, the age of consent in Vermont is 16 years old. However, sexual activity with a child that is 15 years of age or younger carry prison sentences of up to 15 years for the first offense to terms of life-imprisonment for repeat offenders. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, consensual contact between an adult under the age of 19 and a child that is 15 years of age or older is not prohibited by law. For more information about the age of consent and statutory rape in Vermont, consider reviewing FindLaw's page on rape and sexual assault. It also features information on statutory rape and the age of consent.
|Under Vermont Code § 2605, it is a crime to engage in voyeurism. "Voyeurism" refers to the watching or recording of people engaged in sexual activity. The person recording the sexual activity must have done so intentionally and without the subject's or subjects' consent. The subject must have had a reasonable expectation of privacy that they would not be recorded. Exceptions to this rule are when law enforcement officers, private investigators, and security guards engage in such recording, but only if they are doing so in the course of engaging in their regular job functions. Security or loss prevention officers are not protected by this exception, however.
|Under Vermont Code §2632, it is a crime to engage in prostitution. This section of the code prohibits working as a prostitute, while it also prohibits loitering in private and public spaces for purposes of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for compensation. It also makes it a crime to transport people for purposes of having them work as a prostitute. For violating this statute, a person faces a fine of up to $100 and/or imprisonment for up to one year. For a second offense, a person faces imprisonment for up to three years.
Need More Help? Review These Other Resources or Contact an Attorney
You can find more information about state-prohibited consensual activity laws and sex crimes on these pages. For more specific questions regarding a particular case, we recommend speaking to a knowledgeable criminal law attorney in your area.