Rim Country husbands and wives are expected to take their marriage vows seriously. If they do not, according to an Arizona State Statute, they could be arrested and fined.
The seldom-enforced law saw its day in court this month when two local residents were charged with adultery, a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Payson Magistrate Dorothy Little, who presided over the two cases, said a Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable through a fine and/or probation.
"I am not sure anyone would sentence someone to probation for adultery," Little said.
The maximum sentence someone could face for committing adultery is a $910 fine when surcharges are included, 30 days in jail and a year of probation.
Adultery cases are very rare in her courtroom, she said.
"This is the first time I have ever seen the allegation since I started working here," she said. "It is not something that is generally charged."
On Feb. 8, a local woman was charged and convicted for adultery. She was fined $708. She was ordered to pay $460 for disorderly conduct/domestic violence and another $190 for adultery.
On the same date, a male resident appeared before Little for disorderly conduct/domestic violence and adultery.
He received a $550 fine for the domestic violence charge under a plea agreement, Little said. Part of that $550 fine was for adultery.
She also said adultery can be filed as a separate charge and does not need to be accompanied by another charge.
Arizona State Statute 13-1408, put on the books in 1977, reads, "A married person who has sexual intercourse with another than his or her spouse, and an unmarried person not his or her spouse, commits adultery and is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
"When the act is committed between parties, only one whom is married, both shall be punished."
The statute goes on to state that prosecution will only take place if the wife or husband complains that a spouse cheated on him or her.
State Statute 13-1408 was followed in 1978 with a Statute 13-1409, which outlawed cohabitation. That law has since been taken off the books.
Payson and Arizona are not alone in classifying adultery as a criminal act.
According to FindLaw.com, adultery is a crime in more than 20 states, though the law is seldom enforced.
Payson Police Commander Don Engler said the charge is rare and he does not think his agency made the arrest in the recent adultery charge.
However, he said, since there is a statute for the offense, it is something the police department has to enforce.
The Payson Police Department would refer an adultery charge to a prosecutor or town attorney for review, he said.