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Sodomy Charges: Alabama Sodomy Meaning under Sex Crime Laws

Where does the word sodomy come from? Like many of our nation's laws, the origins of criminal laws can be linked back to the Bible. This page addresses the legal definition of this sex crime in Alabama.

What is the charge of sodomy? To learn the meaning of the word, you must start with a religious text. The word was derived from the Book of Genesis, from the story of the sinful town of Sodom and Gomorrah, where a description exists of a person who engages in deviate sexual behavior, which meant anything but a married man and woman copulating.

In biblical days, intercourse with another person was banned. Anal sex was strictly prohibited. Same sex relationships were outlawed, and punishable by death.

Yet, over the thousands of years since the biblical account of a definition of oral sodomy was written, modern rights of choice and privacy in America have dramatically altered most states' sodomy meaning, after United States Supreme Court rulings on such same-sex relationships negated convictions due to violations of Equal Protection. Without a doubt a person arrested for any sexual crime should remain silent and only speak to his or her criminal defense lawyer.

So, you now may be asking, “Is sodomy legal?” The answer is no. As defined in the 2019 Alabama criminal laws, certain individuals who engage in sodomy with each other can be severely punished. The criminal law statute (from 2019) identified below, which contains the sodomy definition in Alabama, defines what is criminal conduct.

After reading this law, it is possible to narrowly apply its terms to actions for which a person may have been arrested. This does not mean that all acts of sodomy are permitted, by any means.

Despite the evolution and refinement of sodomy laws, a felony offender convicted of committing criminal sodomy in Alabama is punished similarly to a rape charge. This article explains when sodomy is legal and when it is not legal. Alabama had an old crime called statutory sodomy second degree before the recent update to our state laws took place.

Sodomy Definition: What Does Sodomy Mean?

In the State of Alabama, what is the definition of sodomy? Simply stated, the essence of the meaning of sodomy relates to the touching of a person's mouth to the sex organ or anus of another person.

Those convicted of sodomy offenses are branded by a societal stigma that is among society's most heinous sex crimes. Yet as can be seen below, common, private activities between married couples or domestic partners will not be prosecuted. But the same acts (for others) could be.

As mentioned above, in 2003 the US Supreme Court ruled that traditional sodomy laws, including Alabama's, are unconstitutional when consenting adults are engaging in what had been previously punished as a serious felony. The case was Lawrence v. Texas. The basis of the Texas felony charges involved police entering a residence in Houston to investigate a possible weapons violation and seeing two adult men engaging in consensual sex.

Today, even if these types of state laws exist (because the Legislature won't repeal them), such statutes are no longer enforceable. The current Alabama sodomy law (trying to define sodomy) is embodied at Ala. Code 13A-6-60(5), which says (as it tries to define sodomy):

SODOMY. Any sexual act involving the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.

This sodomy definition In Alabama closely tracks modern sodomy laws in Georgia and other states after the Lawrence decision. In Alabama, the prior crime of deviate sexual intercourse was defined as "any act of sexual gratification between persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another."

If you or a loved one are charged with this new sodomy crime, then you need experienced legal counsel to defend your constitutional rights. You may be asking yourself, "What does the word sodomy mean, after Lawrence v. Texas?"

In 2019 the Alabama Legislature finally removed that outdated law. Depending on which sex offense you are facing, the new Sexual Offenses definition page in Alabama Code 13A-6-60 needs to be read in conjunction with subsequent code sections defining rape and other sex crimes.

The Lawrence case would likely block successful prosecution of this law on an Equal Protection analysis, if the trial Judge ruled (at a pretrial motion) that the law was not enforceable. This is because the now repealed law did not equally criminalize the same conduct between those adults who are married to each other.

Common Misspellings of the Word Sodomy

Because the term is so rare, it has been misspelled over 50 different ways, including these:

  • sodimy
  • sodamy
  • sodemy
  • somody
  • sofomy
  • saudomy
  • sodame
  • sodomey
Modifications of Alabama Sex Laws in 2019 Have Changed Centuries-Old Sex Statutes

When it comes to sodomy vs rape our clients want to know which crime is sentenced most harshly. Below you can see that the State of Alabama puts down the hammer fairly equally for both sex crimes. Here are links to new Sex Laws enacted by the Alabama Legislature in 2019:

13A-6-61. Rape in the first degree. (Class A felony)

13A-6-62. Rape in the second degree. (Class B felony)

13A-6-63. Sodomy in the first degree. (Class A felony in convicted of 1st degree, and up to 99 years in state prison)

13A-6-64. Sodomy in the second degree. (Class B felony for sodomy 2nd degree)

13A-6-65. Sexual misconduct. (Class A misdemeanor)

13A-6-65.1. Sexual torture. (Class A felony).

13A-6-66. Sexual abuse in the first degree. (Class C felony)

13A-6-67. Sexual abuse in the second degree. (Class C felony in most situations, but has a teen exception where Class A misdemeanor punishment applies)

13A-6-68. Indecent exposure. (Class A felony until reaches third or subsequent offense, which is a Class C felony)

13A-6-69. Enticing child to enter vehicle, house, etc., for immoral purposes. (Class C felony)

13A-6-69.1. Sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old. (Class B felony)

13A-6-70. Lack of consent. (Statute to define when consent is not possible and what constitutes "consent")

13A-6-71. Foster parent engaging in a sex act, etc., with a foster child. (Various crimes constituting a Class B or Class C felony, or possibly a Class A misdemeanor offense)

Current Alabama Law of Sodomy

Sodomy in the 1st Degree

Alabama Law defines Sodomy in the 1st as:

A person commits the crime of sodomy in the first degree if he or she does any of the following:

(1) Engages in sodomy with another person by forcible compulsion.

(2) Engages in sodomy with another person who is incapable of consent by reason of being incapacitated.

(3) Being 16 years of age or older, engages in sodomy with a person who is less than 12 years old.

(b) Sodomy in the first degree is a Class A felony.

Sodomy in the 2nd Degree

Alabama Law defines Sodomy in the 2nd as follows:

A person commits the crime of sodomy in the second degree if, being 16 years of age or older, he or she engages in sodomy with another person 12 years old or older, but less than 16 years old; provided, however, the actor is at least two years older than the other person.

Sodomy in the second degree is a Class B felony.

Applicable Defined Terms under Alabama Law of Sodomy:

1) FORCIBLE COMPULSION. Use or threatened use, whether express or implied, of physical force, violence, confinement, restraint, physical injury, or death to the threatened person or to another person. Factors to be considered in determining an implied threat include, but are not limited to, the respective ages and sizes of the victim and the accused; the respective mental and physical conditions of the victim and the accused; the atmosphere and physical setting in which the incident was alleged to have taken place; the extent to which the accused may have been in a position of authority, domination, or custodial control over the victim; or whether the victim was under duress. Forcible compulsion does not require proof of resistance by the victim.

(2) INCAPACITATED. The term includes any of the following:

  1. A person who suffers from a mental or developmental disease or disability which renders the person incapable of appraising the nature of his or her conduct.
  2. A person is temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his or her conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance and the condition was known or should have been reasonably known to the offender.
  3. A person who is unable to give consent or who is unable to communicate an unwillingness to an act because the person is unconscious, asleep, or is otherwise physically limited or unable to communicate.

(3) SEXUAL CONTACT. Any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person done for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party. The term does not require skin to skin contact.

(4) SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. Such term has its ordinary meaning and occurs upon any penetration, however slight; emission is not required.

(5) SODOMY. Any sexual act involving the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.

Sodomy Penalties in Alabama:

Sodomy 1st in Alabama is a Class A felony. There is no more serious felony classification in Alabama, other than a capital offense. If convicted of a class A Felony in Alabama, the range of penalty is a fine of up to $60,000.00 and imprisonment for life or not more than 99 years or less than 10 years.

Sodomy 2nd in Alabama is a Class B felony. If convicted, the range of imprisonment is not more than 20 years or less than 2 years and a fine of not more than $30,000.00.

As well, if convicted, lifelong sex offender registration and notification would be required under Alabama SORNA laws.

Do Not Risk Your Future by Selecting the Wrong Legal Advocate

Mark Polson has been a sex crimes lawyer since 1974. As an Alabama criminal attorney Mr. Polson and his team have defended citizens charged with all types of sex cases, including sodomy, for over 46 years. Call today for a FREE lawyer consultation with Mark or his son (and law partner) Whitney Polson. All consultations are discreet, confidential and private.

You need a solution that does not put your name on the Alabama sex offender registry. Trust our experience in defending Alabama sex cases for over six decades.

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