Police officers were dispatched to the home of John Lawrence (defendant) in response to a report of a weapons disturbance. When the police went into the home, the police observed Lawrence and Tyron Garner (defendant) engaged in a sexual act. The State of Texas (plaintiff) charged Lawrence and Garner with engaging in deviate sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex. Lawrence and Garner were convicted by a Justice of the Peace and exercised their right to a new trial in criminal court. Lawrence and Garner argued that the statute was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The criminal court rejected the arguments, and Lawrence and Garner entered a plea of nolo contendere. The court of appeals confirmed the convictions, and Lawrence and Garner petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.