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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 118708
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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Does the sex act have to occur in NC for one to be liable for

Customer Question

Does the sex act have to occur in NC for one to be liable for criminal conversation in NC?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
In order to get personal jurisdiction over the other person to sue them for criminal conversion or alienation of affection in NC, they would have to actually reside in the state of NC. NC is one of the minority of states with such a law that makes criminal conversation / alienation of affection unlawful and thus, the party needs to at least be a resident of the state, even though the act may have taken place out of the state.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
That is actually not completely correct. NC has a long-arm statute that covers acts/omissions (including but not limited to residency) that are sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over the Defendant that is, in effect, a statutory "minimum contacts" analysis which ensures DP requirements are met over a non-resident in alienation or criminal conversation actions. A collegaue and I (both practicing family lawyers in NC) are debating whether the sex act has to occur in NC to make Defendant liable for this strict liability tort. In contrast, an alienation claim can be brought against a non-resident even where he has not stepped foot in the state if he has "minimum contacts" since the injury occurred to the marriage whose situs is NC where noninjured spouse resides here.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
Aside from the jurisdictional issue, the other issue here is whether or not a person who lives, for example in Pennsylvania where there is no such law about alienation or criminal conversation, would be subject to a NC law for having sex with a married person from NC while in PA, and I do not see a court enforcing that law against someone in PA who is not subject to the laws of the state of NC. Now, two people going from NC to PA and having sex then this would likely have a different argument because they are both from NC and arguably you could get NC law to apply based on the fact they are both subject to the laws of NC. And as far as minimum contacts goes, what I am saying is a person who resides in PA (back to our example) meets NC spouse online and NC spouse goes to PA for sex, well I would argue that you would have a difficult time showing minimum contacts with NC to gain any jurisdiction and that was what I was referring to in my first answer.

However, as far as the sex act I think you can make a very good case that if it is two NC residents or at least someone that NC has jurisdiction over (since you want to say "minimum contacts") then where the act occurs would be the actual act of criminal conversation and if the act does not occur in NC, that would be like charging someone with murder in NC for a murder that actually occurred in another state, even if it was a murder of a NC resident by another NC resident the state does not have jurisdiction to prosecute the murder from the other state.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
In your example, the contacts could be established through phone calls or the internet communication that preceded the sex act out of state and that has been shown to be sufficient to establish jurisdiction over the non-resident in recent case law though I know it sounds odd. Anyway, I am probabaly chasing a rabbit since I am not sure if it has been decided yet or if there is a case on point as applies to criminal conversation (though on your facts, a judgment against a non-resident has been upheld based on phone calls, emails by our court of appeals). Thanks for your insight.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
I was going to try to impress you with a case, but my search came up empty as I guess it would be a case of first impression.