Incest in Pennsylvania

Incest is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania, and those accused of it face prison time and swift prosecution in the court of public opinion. Under Pennsylvania law (Section 4302 of Title 18), it is illegal to marry, cohabit (cohabit here meaning to live with someone as though married to them), have a relationship or have sexual intercourse with a family member of whole or half blood. Incest is a felony of the second degree, and is sometimes slung as an accusation by embittered ex-spouses seeking to gain an upper hand in custody disputes. There are however myriad situations in which a Pennsylvania resident may be contending with a charge of incest, regardless of whether or not they are actually guilty of the crime in question. Pennsylvania law stipulates that a relationship may still be considered incestuous if there is an adoptive relationship between the individuals in question. Incest of a minor is also treated as a felony in the second degree.

It is critical that you take steps to actively combat these charges if you presently face them. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will be indispensable in your fight against incest charges. A conviction for incest will undoubtedly be seen as an unsightly mark on your record, with the potential to alienate future employers, landlords, or other authorities reviewing your record for educational or administrative reasons. You do not want to have a repeated and awkward conversation about how and why you wound up with a conviction for incest on your record. This is why it is so important that you retain an aggressive and dependable attorney at the outset of your charges, to effectively fight against a conviction and uphold your rights in court. Our Criminal Law Team is well-versed in Pennsylvania criminal law; we understand the confusion and potentially embarrassment you may be contending with in the aftermath of an incest charge. It is more than likely you are not exactly sure where to go from here or what steps to take. The short answer is that you must secure an experienced attorney to represent you in court, and our Criminal Law Team will take on your case with resolve and above all, discretion.

What Is Considered Incest In Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania defines incest as marriage, cohabitation, and/or sexual intercourse with someone who is one's own:

  • sibling, including half brothers and half sisters;
  • ancestor or descendant, meant to encompass parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren;
  • aunt or uncle; and
  • niece or nephew.

Important Distinction

It should be noted that cousins were excluded from this list. It is not considered incest in Pennsylvania to have intercourse with one's own cousin. However, first cousins would not be able to obtain a marriage license in the state. Where an immediate familial relationship exists, a marriage license will be almost categorically denied.

Penalties for Incest in Pennsylvania

Despite generally being considered a victimless crime, there are steep penalties for incest in Pennsylvania. Once you have been charged, you face standard second-degree penalty charges including up to $25,000 in fines and as many as 10 years in prison. If there are any associated charges with the incest charge, you would like face those penalties concurrently if convicted. There is a chance you would be required to register as a sex offender if convicted of incest, depending on the circumstances of the charge and how the court perceives the severity of the act.

What Happens When You Are Charged With Incest in Pennsylvania?

Typically, a discovery of incest (whether direct, in which two people engaged in an incestuous act are discovered, or indirect, in which someone makes an accusation after the fact) would lead to an arrest. If you are arrested for incest, you are advised not to speak to the police about the matter until you have spoken with and retained an attorney. The odds are, if you are reading this information, that you were already arrested and released with charges of incest pending. In the event you already spoke with police, hire an attorney immediately and they will help you determine if any of your rights were violated in the course of the arrest or the way in which police posed questions to you.

There are a number of defenses your attorney can raise to effectively combat a charge of incest. The statute of limitations may have run out by the time you were accused. It should be noted that it will not be a defense to an incest charge if all parties participated consensually. Rather, you attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the evidence against you and look for weakness and vulnerabilities in the opposition's case.

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

As you move forward in the fight against incest charges in Pennsylvania, the most valuable addition to your defense will be a skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney. Our Criminal Law Team of the LLF Law Firm will use our familiarity with Pennsylvania law and our experience in criminal court rooms to build you a strong and credible defense. Do not hesitate to contact our Criminal Law Team today at 888-535-3686 and arrange your consultation.

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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