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Though most people think of incest as a social taboo, it is also a legal crime in the state of California. Therefore, having a sexual relationship with certain family members in Los Angeles can result in very strict penalties even if the involved parties are all consenting adults. It can be scary to be charged with incest, but fortunately, there are many legal defenses to these sorts of charges.
What Legally Counts As Incest?
Incest is defined as marriage or sexual intercourse between relatives, and it is illegal due to California Penal Code 285. Legally, only certain sexual acts and certain family relations are incestuous. Anyone directly descended from each other, such as parents and children or great-grandparents and great-grandchildren, cannot have sex. It is also incest if someone has sex with their sibling, half sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. However, it is not legally incestuous to have sex with someone who is your cousin, stepparent, stepchild, stepsibling, adopted sibling, half-aunt or half-uncle, or half-niece or half, nephew. Incest is legally defined as occurring between two people who were over the age of 14. If one of the relatives is 13 or under, the older party will most likely be charged with statutory rape or child sex abuse. California only considers a sexual relationship to be incestuous if sexual intercourse, which is legally defined as penetration of the vagina or other genitalia by a penis, occurs. Therefore, oral sex is not criminally incestuous in Los Angeles. A person will only be convicted of incest if they consented to the incestuous act, and otherwise, the only consenting party in the incest will be charged with rape.
What Happens If You Are Convicted of Incest?
California considers incest to be a felony, so it has very strict penalties. People convicted of incest may face up to $10,000 in fines and either 16 months, two years, or three years in a state prison. Mitigating factors may reduce fines or prison time. After you leave prison, you will be subject to formal probation requirements, and you will also be required to register as a California sex offender. This will mean that you have to renew your registration each year or every time you move. Failing to register as a sex offender leads to further felony charges.
Are There Legal Defenses to Incest Charges?
Because of the many qualifications to legally count as incest, an experienced attorney may be able to defend against incest charges by showing that their client did not meet one of the criteria. If you are being charged with incest, you cannot be found guilty if you did not actually have intercourse, you did not consent to the act, or you were under 14 when the act occurred. If the incestuous relationship started while you were 14 and then continued for several years, prosecutors typically can be convinced to drop the charges. Though it can be hard to prove, if you show that you were unaware of the blood relationship when you had sex with a family member, you will not be convicted. Often, the evidence in an incest case is based on rumor or hearsay, so an attorney may be able to successfully claim that the accusations are false.
If you or someone you know is dealing with incest charges in Los Angeles, an attorney who is experienced in sex crimes can provide valuable assistance. Our law firm can aid you in understanding the California laws on the subject and getting the best possible outcome during an incest trial. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you.