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Virginia Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Just because something is consensual between people doesn't necessarily ensure that it's legal. State laws prohibiting certain types of consensual sexual activity typically reflect the social norms of the state. As a result, they are subject to change as society changes. Some of these laws include prohibitions on sodomy, indecent exposure, and statutory rape.

Sodomy Laws in Virginia

Throughout history, most states have had laws criminalizing sodomy, even though this is considered a strictly private matter between consenting adults. However, in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to bar consensual sex between adults. The Supreme Court identified it as a violation of the 14th Amendment.

It took a while for Virginia to catch on. Lawmakers finally invalidated state sodomy laws in 2014. While sodomy laws are no longer considered valid, other types of sexual activities are considered illegal in Virginia.

Virginia's prohibited consensual sexual activity laws are itemized below. See FindLaw's Sex Crimes section for related topics.

Sodomy Laws

The law prohibiting sodomy between consenting adults was struck down in 2014. Forcible sodomy and sodomy of an animal remain criminal offenses.

HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

Under §18.2-67.4:1, it is a crime to have sex with another person when:

  • You know that you are infected with an STD or STI, and
  • In having sex with the other person, you intend to infect that other person with whatever STD or STI you have.

If the other person is infected, the offender is guilty of a Class 6 Felony.

The statute does not list an exception for someone who knows their partner is infected and consents to sexual activity with that partner anyway.

Prostitution

Under §18.2-346, prostitution is a crime. Generally speaking, prostitution is defined as engaging in sexual activity with another person in exchange for compensation. Violations of this statute are treated as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

Other Laws Related to Prostitution

Under §18.2-349, it is a crime to promote prostitution by using vehicles to transport prostitutes for the purpose of aiding them in engaging in sexual activity in exchange for compensation. Generally speaking, a violation is treated as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. However, if the prostitute is under the age of 18, a violation is treated as a Class 6 Felony. Under §18.2-356, it is a crime to do any of the following:
  • Receive "money for procuring" a person that will serve as a prostitute
  • Operating or maintaining a "house of prostitution"
  • Forcing a person to be a prostitute
Violations of this section of the Virginia code are treated as a Class 4 Felony. However, if the prostitute (victim) is under the age of 18, the offender is guilty of a Class 3 Felony. Under §18.2-348, it is a crime to aid in prostitution or illicit sexual intercourse. Violations are treated as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. However, if the victim is under the age of 18, the offense is treated as a Class 6 Felony. Under §18.2-347, it is a crime to own, operate, live in, or visit a "bawdy place," which is the term that this statute uses for referencing "houses of prostitution." Violations are treated as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Under §18.2-357, it is a crime to receive the money that prostitutes have earned as compensation for engaging in sexual activity. Violations are considered "pandering," and they are treated as a Class 4 Felony. However, if the prostitute is under the age of 18, the offense is treated as a Class 3 Felony.

Indecent Exposure

Under §18.2-387, indecent exposure is a crime. The statute prohibits the following:
  • Exposure of one's private parts in a public space where others are present, not including breastfeeding
  • Conduct in public such as masturbation, sexual intercourse, and exhibitionism
Most instances of indecent exposure are treated as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Keep in mind that intentional exposure of private parts to any child under 15 years old or attempting to encourage that child to expose their private parts is considered a felony. These offenses can lead to fines as well as up to 10 years in prison.

Age of Consent

Under most circumstances, the age of consent in Virginia is 18 years old. In many states, sexual activity with someone under the age of consent is known as statutory rape. While the Commonwealth doesn't use the phrase "statutory rape," the criminal act is essentially the same. There are two separate "statutory rape" crimes in Virginia. The first statute deals with carnal knowledge of a child between 13 and 15 years of age. Under this statute, if you are 18 years of age or older and have sex with a 13- or 14-year-old (a minor), it's a Class 4 felony and punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.The second statute deals with someone 18 years old or older having sex with someone age 15, 16, or 17 years of age. That's a class one misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine.

Note: Virginia laws regarding sex crimes are constantly changing. The laws are complex, and not something you want to try to defend yourself against on your own. Contact a Virginia sex crimes lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

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

  • At Virginia Law, you'll find links to all statutes of the state, including those related to sexual activity.
  • At Official State Codes, you'll find links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Virginia Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources

Consider reviewing the following resources as well, which also pertain to laws against certain sexual activities:

Learn More About Virginia Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws from a Lawyer

While consensual sex is by definition not an act of assault against another, states do have certain laws protecting minors and the public. If you've been charged with violating Virginia's prohibited consensual sexual activity laws, or any other sex-related crime, it's in your best interest to contact an experienced sex crime attorney near you today.

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