Adultery is illegal in Maryland and is a misdemeanor, punishable by $10 fine.
At least three adultery violations were filed in Maryland district courts during fiscal 2017, while the state’s Office of the Public Defender confirmed it has handled five cases over the past eight years. None of those cases consisted of adultery as the primary charge, according to a state legislative analysis.
The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday heard House Bill 267, sponsored by Delegate Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, that would repeal the misdemeanor.
Including Maryland, 19 states still have statutes criminalizing adultery, and Dumais seeks to make it 18.
“The fine is a whopping $10 and, in my 28 years of practice, I have never, ever, had a client charged with it or been in a case where anyone was charged with it,” Dumais, a divorce lawyer, said in her testimony.
In his testimony Tuesday, Maryland family attorney James Milko argued the law is not only outdated but directly impacts legal proceedings. He said the law in place thwarts the purpose of some statutes in the divorce arena.
“This is simply arcane,” Dumais said. “It is still a ground for divorce and is something we can talk about in family law cases, but there need not be a crime on the books