Chapter 8
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Chapter 8. Offenses Against Public Morality. Introduction. Many people deal with sexual conduct – fornication and adultery, seduction, incest, bigamy, sodomy, prostitution, indecent exposure – and with obscenity and profanity.

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Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Offenses Against Public Morality


Many people deal with sexual conduct – fornication and adultery, seduction, incest, bigamy, sodomy, prostitution, indecent exposure – and with obscenity and profanity.

Contemporary criminal law still reflects to a great extent the morality of the Bible and church doctrine.

Most criminal laws that proscribe behavior forbidden by the Bible have also been found to serve a recognized secular purpose.

Criminal Prohibitions of Sexual Conduct

  • Fornication – sexual intercourse between unmarried people.

  • Adultery – sexual intercourse between a male and female, at least one whom is married to someone else.

  • Seduction – a male obtains sexual intercourse with a virtuous female on the unfulfilled promise of marriage.

  • Incest – sexual intercourse within or outside the bonds of marriage between people related within certain prohibited degrees.

    This can lead to genetically defective offspring.

Criminal Prohibitions of Sexual Conduct continued:

  • Bigamy – marriage between two people when one is already legally married to another.

  • Sodomy – oral or anal sex between humans (crimes against nature).

  • Bestiality –sex between humans and animals.

  • Prostitution – having sex with another for money.

Indecent Exposure

  • Indecent exposure – to intentionally expose their private parts in a public place.

  • Lewd and lascivious conduct – indecent exposure of a person’s private parts in public; indecent touching or fondling of a child.


  • Sex is a private matter

  • Enforcement is a waste of money

  • Enforcement is arbitrary

  • When law enforcement ignores a law it breeds disrespect for all laws

  • Inconsistency between social norms


At common law, vulgar and obscene language and indecent public exhibitions were considered public nuisances, punishable as misdemeanors.

  • Obscenity – Explicit sexual material that is patently offensive, appeals to a prurient or unnatural interest in sex, and lacks serious scientific, artistic, or literary content.

Development of Obscenity Law

  • Roth v. United States (1957)

    • Obscenity is not protected rather the court viewed the test as “whether obscenity is utterance within the area of protected speech and press.”

    • Whether the average person applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interests.

Obscenity Continued:

Obscenity is not protected by the first amendment.

  • Profanity – foul language.

    This is protected by the first amendment as long as there are no “fighting words” involved.


What Constitutes Gambling?

  • Consideration

  • Prize

  • chance

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