Oklahoma Repeals Antiquated Laws

Oklahoma is known for having some pretty outdated laws. We were the last state to allow tattoos, which only became legal in 2006. We account for 50% of all 3.2 beer sales, thanks to tough beer and liquor laws. And until November 1, 2017, it remains illegal--not just poor taste--to call a woman a slut.

Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, says she likes to browse the state criminal code "quite a bit" to educate herself on the state's laws. In doing so, she came across a few of laws she felt were antiquated and unnecessary to remain as crimes. Griffin made it her mission to get these laws off the books, and despite being unable to get a hearing before the Senate Public Safety Committee in 2015 and 2016, Griffin was finally able this year to get the laws repealed.

Senate Bill 286 repeals 21 O.S. §§ 779-780 and 1120-1122.

Sections 779 and 780 deal with "falsely and maliciously or falsely and wantonly [imputing] to any female, married or unmarried, a want of chastity." In other words, a person who calls a woman a slut, a whore, or in any other way disparages the woman's moral virtue is guilty of misdemeanor slander punishable by a fine of $25 to $100 and 30 to 90 days in jail. The repeal of these laws takes effect November 1, so until then, if you impugn a woman's chastity, you're a criminal. If you do so after November 1, you're just not a nice person.

Sections 1120-1122 deal with the seduction of an unmarried female. Under § 1120, it is a felony to promise to marry an "unmarried woman of previous chaste character" in an attempt to seduce her into sexual relations. Promising to marry a virgin if she will have sex with you is a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison under existing Oklahoma law. However, if you do subsequently marry the woman after your promise to do so, you can use that marriage as a defense under § 1121.  

But if you think you can marry her to get the charge dismissed and divorce her later, you better think again. Oklahoma law is on to you. Under  § 1122, if you divorce her, abandon her, or are so cruel to her that she leaves you within two years, you are guilty of "abandonment after seduction and marriage"--a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison. The repeal of these laws will take effect November 1, 2017. 

According to Griffin, these laws were obsolete and unnecessary, prompting her to work to get them stricken: "We already ... have laws on the books to protect minors from these behaviors. And an adult woman doesn't necessarily need that protection. She's fully capable of making her own decisions."

Some people believe that it is not necessary to bother removing these outdated laws from the state statutes. After all, what prosecutor is really going to ever bother with one of these cases? Typically, no prosecutor would file charges--they have bigger things to worry about, and they are too busy to care about something so minor and antiquated. However, if you make a town mad enough, you might get saddled with one of these outdated charges just to prove a point.

In 2011, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Ronald Arganbright was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, and using his patrol car for their rendezvous. Arganbright was charged with multiple crimes, including embezzlement by appropriation (for the unauthorized use of his patrol car), lewd acts with a child under 16, use of an electronic device to facilitate sexual conduct with a minor, and seduction of an unmarried woman.

The embezzlement and seduction charges were ultimately dismissed--they were clearly an attempt to charge the man with everything possible. In 2012, the former trooper was convicted of lewd acts and use of an electronic device to facilitate sexual conduct with a minor. He was sentenced to three years in prison. 

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