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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Bill repealing adultery criminalization ‘squeaks out’ of committee

When considering the potential consequences of adultery in Maryland, there’s one that’s often overlooked: the misdemeanor charge and $10 fine still on the books.

The law was used to bring charges three times last year, according to legislative analysts, and Del. Kathleen M. Dumais, D-Montgomery and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said she has never had a client in her family-law practice facing a criminal action for adultery.

Dumais introduced House Bill 267 to repeal the crime of adultery once and for all and did not expect to face major opposition until her committee voted last week.

The bill “only squeaked out of committee,” Dumais said Monday after Republican members all voted against a favorable report, with one abstaining. The favorable report was adopted by an 11-7 vote Thursday. (Two lawmakers abstained and one was excused.)

Dumais said the law has been used sparingly; the Office of the Public Defender found five cases involving adultery in the last eight years and it was not the lead charge in any of them.

The bill will be on the House floor Tuesday as part of a committee report.

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