“Is it true that I can be arrested for living with my unmarried roommate in Florida?”
At the time of publishing, surprisingly, yes, you and your partner are breaking the law. Florida Law FS 798.02 was established in 1868 and has yet to be repealed yet multiple attempts. The last attempt to repeal the Florida law was last year, however, failed to pass the Judicial Committee. A summary analysis of the failed repeal bill showed that Florida is one of three states currently criminalizing cohabitation. The other two states are Michigan and Mississippi. Additionally in this summary, it showed that in 2006 North Carolina’s cohabitation law as found unconstitutional. This Florida law is currently 147 years old. Florida was 23 years old when FS 798.02 was enacted.
“Well, if it’s not being repealed it must not be enforced?”
According to WCTV.TV’s article, ‘Couples Living Together Without Being Married Can Get Arrested’, between 2005 and 2010 approximately 700 individuals have been charged with misdemeanors.
“What exactly does the Florida Statute say?”
“Lewd and lascivious behavior.—If any man and woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or if any man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”
“Will 2015 be the year when Florida finally decided to rescind Florida Statute 798.02?”
Great question! At the moment, there has been a lot of talk about Sen. Eleanor Sobel’s recent bill. Senator Sobel’s bill was introduced on February 19th, 2015. The senator’s bill proposes to repeal the part of the law that currently makes cohabitation a second-degree misdemeanor for men and women if they are not married. Additionally, SB 1078 (Senator Sobel’s bill), would remove language that granted power to a judge to prevent a parent from seeing their child if convicted of breaking FS 798.02.Have you been charged with breaking FS 798.02 we may be able to help you.
Do you have a question for the SEM Law Group Law team? Let us know! We always offer free consultations in our Boca Raton office.