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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

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
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
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

  • 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
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 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