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Legal Resources

Legal Resources

It is extremely important for members of NCSF constituent communities to understand the laws that may affect us.  Overview The law is interpreted – sometimes to our favor, and sometimes not. For example, while the NCSF firmly believes that consensual SM activity between adults is legal, there are those that have a differing opinion and will intentionally interpret the law in an unfavorable way. Therefore, it is extremely important for the SM-Leather-Fetish communities to have an understanding of the laws that may affect us. Knowing relevant laws will greatly assist our communities in safely organizing and maintaining SM-Leather-Fetish activities and functions. There are numerous laws, ordinances, and regulations at all levels of government - federal, state, regional, county and city. It's not easy to locate all of the laws that may affect us, but it's very important. You should make every attempt to thoroughly research your laws if your activities may come under the scrutiny of law enforcement or local authorities. In addition, NCSF recommends that thorough legal research should include consultation with a knowledgeable attorney, state Attorney General, local prosecutor, or other legal authority, familiar with the current interpretation of the law for the jurisdiction in question. Obviously, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive list of every law and its interpretation for every jurisdiction, so this material is designed to give the reader a basic understanding of legal research and the tools to get started. Research Realities The question "Is SM legal in my state?" is not an appropriate research question. What we call "SM" includes a wide variety of behaviors, attitudes and acts without common legal terminology. For example, a state may not specifically prohibit "bondage" or "mummification", but every state has laws against holding someone against his/her will. The key term is not "SM" but rather "consent." Therefore, the better question to research might be "What types of consensual sexual expression are allowed under state and local laws?" or "How is consent defined by statutory and case law in the state?" In many jurisdictions, only procreative consensual intercourse between married heterosexual couples in the privacy of the home is "legal." Therefore looking at all laws pertaining to sex may be a good place to start. Of course, sex laws are usually selectively enforced. And they can be contradictory: a local jurisdiction may recognize gay couples, but the state makes sodomy between people of the same sex…