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Oregon v. Rideout

Spousal Rape

Spousal or marital rape occurs when a husband forces a wife to have sex with him when she is unwilling to do so. Most states have some kind of marital-rape statute, though many of these laws tend to be lax, or to apply only in situations of separated couples. There are no marital-rape laws on the books in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, or West Virginia, and in the case of Alabama and West Virginia, neither a husband or a man who lives in state of "cohabitation" with a woman may be charged with rape.

Cohabitants cannot be charged with rape in Montana, Nevada, Delaware, or Pennsylvania. In these four states, along with 21 others, a husband cannot be charged with marital rape if he and the wife are living together; only in cases of legal separation is marital rape a punishable offense. Informal separation, as opposed to legal separation, marks a threshold for situations in which marital rape can be charged in six states: Oklahoma, Wyoming, Ohio, Louisiana, Virginia, and Maryland.

Only 12 states have firm marital-rape laws which govern situations of married couples living in the same house. These are mostly states with more liberal traditions, including California, Washington, Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and all of New England except Maine.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Oregon v. Rideout - Significance, Does Marriage Mean Consent?, No Help From Friends . . ., Lose One, Win Some