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Can You Go to Jail for Adultery

Cheating on a partner can cause someone to break their trust or make emotions run high. Depending on how the couple handles the situation, infidelity can lead to long-lasting resentment or the end of the relationship or marriage.

But some places can get you into trouble with the law. In places where religion can influence laws – like in some Middle Eastern Countries where they abide by Islamic or Sharia law – infidelity can lead to legal punishments such as fines, exile, and imprisonment.

That said, below are some of the places where you can go to jail for adultery.


In the Philippines, women caught cheating on their spouses can go to jail for six years, while men will go for a maximum of four and a half years.

Cheating in the Philippines means you had sexual intercourse outside your marriage.

Additionally, the woman that the man had an affair with can get exiled for four years and one day. If the man cheats with a married woman, the man can go to prison for six years.


The Indonesian government does not have any cheating-related laws. But since it is a Muslim country, most people follow Sharia Law, which forbids adultery. And a person who cheats on their spouse can go to jail for up to nine months.

In the province of Aceh, the government prohibits women from being alone with someone of the opposite sex if they are not related or married.


Taiwan is the same as the Philippines in treating infidelity as a crime. If you are the third party of the affair, the four-month-per-act rule will apply to you, where the law can get you to jail for four months for every adulterous act you commit. The wife or husband who cheated can get a sentence of up to a year in prison. Many have criticized this law as being “archaic.”

There has been some effort to do away with the law from Taiwan’s Minister of Culture Lung Ying. But a survey conducted in 2013 found that 82.3% of the respondents want the law to remain.


In the US, Illinois has made cheating into a Class A demeanor. And you can either go to jail for up to one year, be fined up to $2,500, or both.

There also used to be the alienation of affection laws in Illinois, which allows damages against the accused homewrecker. It was part of the state’s “heart balm” laws, which grants legal action to marital strife cases. But in 2016, all “heart balm” laws were repealed, including those with adultery.


Anyone caught cheating is subject to a felony charge. And consequences can lead to jail time for up to five years, a fine of up to $500, or both. There’s also a law that prohibits people from cohabiting within 30 days of their divorce or remarrying someone within six months of their divorce.


Adulterers can go to jail for a long time in Afghanistan. This law has faced criticism from human rights groups because they argue that it does not distinguish between sex crimes. So victims of rape can get themselves accused of adultery.

There are also some reports of the Taliban performing executions of women suspected of adultery in 2010 and 2012.


Ugandan law has different punishments for adultery in men and women.

An adulterous man can go to jail for up to 12 months with a fine of up to 200 or 600 shillings. If you are a woman, you’ll only go to prison for up to six months.

The Government nullified this law in 2017 following a constitutional court case. But it remains in the constitution with a provisional statement to nullify the law.

Some Countries that have Decriminalize Adultery

While there are countries that deem adultery a crime, there are those that have decriminalized it. Below are some of them.


European countries no longer deem adultery as a crime. And some of the last Western European countries to decriminalize were Italy, France, Greece, and Austria.

Adultery was never a crime in most communist countries except Romania, where adultery was a crime until 2016.

Turkey deemed adultery laws invalid in 1996/1998 because they differentiated between men and women and were, therefore, discriminatory. There were some proposals for a gender-neutral adultery law. But the plans did not blossom, and many believed it was because of the objections made by the European Union.


In 1994, Australian federal law recognized sexual conduct between two consenting adults (18 years old and above) as a private matter. And it does not matter if they are married or not. So adultery is not a crime overall in Australia. Their states and territories have also repealed their adultery laws.

Australia even has a no-fault divorce in which adultery is not a ground for divorce.

Latin America

Most Latin American countries have decriminalized adultery, including Brazil, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Some countries like Guatemala have struck down their adultery laws on the grounds of discrimination against women. Mexico would be the latest to repeal adultery in its Federal Criminal Code in 2011.

Arguments against Adultery Laws

Most opponents of adultery laws argue that such laws are discriminatory against women are were only made into law so men can be the ones to only have sexual relationships other than their spouses. Concerns for justification for violence against women were some of the points raised.

There is also the issue of privacy. Some people argue that adultery laws are invasive and incompatible with the principles of limited government. Most of the criticism comes from libertarians who argue such issues should be handled privately rather than prosecuted and penalized by governments.


Cheating is one of the worst things you can do to your partner. And there can be places where respective governments deem it a criminal act. If you committed such acts and your partner sues you, it would be best to call a lawyer immediately to know your rights and available options.


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