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West Virginia Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Crimes that involve sexual behavior such as rape, sexual assault, and child pornography are some of the most serious violations in the criminal justice system. Accordingly, the penalties for sex crimes are often very harsh. Typically, when you think of a sex crime, you envision a sex offender forcing or coercing sexual conduct upon another without their consent. This certainly applies in the case of sex crimes such as rape, sexual assault, or child molestation. However, there are instances when even consensual sexual activity is forbidden by the law.

State laws can regulate various types of behavior including sexual activities. Although there is a certain degree of privacy afforded to consenting adults when engaging in sexual behavior in private settings, the states including West Virginia have regulations against certain types of consensual sexual activities through the enactment of laws and legal code. This includes laws concerning areas such as prostitution, lewdness and indecent exposure.

History of Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activities

Traditionally, the restriction of sexual activities helped to foster an acceptable outlook on sexuality that reflected traditional and social religious values that viewed sexual behavior that did not result in or intend to be procreative as taboo or unacceptable. However, attitudes have changed regarding sexuality, resulting in legal regulations or laws that are not enforced, in the process of being repealed, or which have engendered substantial opposition. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court held that U.S. anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional in a 2003 decision. Although the laws are unenforceable, some states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books. However, West Virginia is not one of these states; the state abolished sodomy laws before the Court ruled them as unconstitutional.

Overview of Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Below you will find a summary of key provisions of West Virginia's prohibited consensual sexual activity laws.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to



Penalty for Sodomy



HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

16-3C-2 Upon conviction of sexual offense, HIV testing of convicted mandatorily ordered by the court.

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts


61-8-5 Prostitution, lewdness: misdemeanor

61-8-9 Indecent exposure: misdemeanor

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

West Virginia Codes and Legal Research Options:

Related Resources for Prohibited Consensual Activity Laws:

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney

Although there is some freedom regarding consensual sexual activity, some behavior is illegal. If you are facing indecent exposure, prostitution, or other charges under West Virginia's prohibited consensual sexual activity laws, then you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. An attorney can help you assess your legal options to prepare you for the next steps.

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