There are strict rules governing marriage in the state of California. Individuals are only allowed to marry certain people. For example, it is against the law to marry or have sexual intercourse with a close relative. Individuals may face incest charges if they are accused of engaging in this behavior.
The court uses Penal Code 285 to prosecute acts of incest. This crime could lead to time behind bars and high fines. Receive additional information about incest charges and how to handle them by calling the Simmrin Law Group today.
Defining Incest in the State of California
California uses a specific definition for acts of incest. Two people commit incest if they are related and have sexual intercourse or get married. Incest charges only apply if both parties are at least 14 years old. Additionally, incest charges only apply to certain relatives. Individuals face these charges for engaging in sexual relations with their:
- Parent or child
- Grandparent or grandchild
- Brother or half-brother
- Sister or half-sister
- Uncle or aunt
- Niece or nephew
Note that incest charges apply if individuals engage in sexual intercourse. California considers sexual intercourse as an act involving genital penetration. Other forms of sexual activity are not prohibited under California’s incest laws.
Is a Relationship Between First Cousins Legal?
In California, it is legal for first cousins to engage in sexual intercourse and get married. However, the same does not hold true in every state. If you enter into a relationship with your first cousin in California, you should be aware of the legality of your relationship should you plan to travel or move to another state.
Other exceptions to incest laws include adopted siblings or step-siblings, step-parents, and step-children.
Age Limits on Incest in California
California only charges a party with incest if both parties involved in the act are over the age of 14. However, this does not mean that it is legal to engage in sexual intercourse with a family member under the age of 14. In fact, this could lead to different criminal charges, such as:
- Statutory rape
- A lewd act on a minor under 14
- The continuous sexual abuse of a child
These charges are very serious. They could lead to fines and time behind bars after a conviction. In many cases, these charges are more serious than accusations of incest here in California. Note that incest charges may not apply if one party is a minor when the incest occurs and the other party is an adult.
In this situation, the adult may face incest charges if the minor was over 14. However, the minor would not face incest charges.
Penalties for Incest Convictions in California
There are several serious repercussions for an incest conviction in the state of California. PC 285 is a felony charge in California. Individuals convicted of incest may face:
- Up to three years of prison time
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Formal probation
Individuals must also register as sex offenders after a conviction for incest and must remain registered for a minimum of 20 years. During this period, individuals must renew their registration every year and each time they move. Failure to register as a sex offender is also a criminal offense in California.
On top of the legal penalties for incest, you will likely be dealing with a significant backlash from the community if you are convicted of incest. Incest is a very taboo subject. Even a false accusation can seriously damage your reputation.
Legal Defenses to PC 285 Accusations
There are several possible legal defenses for individuals accused of incest in California. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer may review these defenses with you. Building a defense to handle an incest accusation may require a lawyer to show that:
- You were a minor when the incest took place
- You didn’t know you were engaging in intercourse with a relative
- You were accused of a crime you didn’t commit
You Were a Minor When the Incest Took Place
We mentioned that both parties involved must be over 14 for incest charges to apply. However, the court does not prosecute minors if the act of incest involved an adult. For example, if a 16-year-old and a 32-year-old engaged in incest, the 16-year-old would not face criminal charges.
You Didn’t Know You Were Engaging in Intercourse With a Relative
There are cases where relatives became sexually involved and only found out later that they were related. In this case, you may be able to avoid a conviction under PC 285. However, this is not guaranteed. Speak to a lawyer to learn more about this defense.
You Were Accused of a Crime You didn’t Commit
Sometimes, individuals in California are falsely accused of incest. In this situation, a lawyer may work to dispute the other person’s testimony. Find out more about your options if you were falsely accused of incest here in California.
Statute of Limitations for Incest in California
Prosecutors must bring incest charges within three years of the incestuous act, or the statute of limitations will expire. However, depending on the circumstances, you could face charges for other crimes that carry a much longer statute of limitations.
Get Help After an Incest Accusation in California
Make sure you continue building your understanding of incest charges in California. Reach out to the Simmrin Law Group to get answers to your questions. We are prepared to help you handle some incest accusations.
You may find out more by reaching out to a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer for a free consultation. You may also fill out our online contact form. We will review the details of your case and advise you on how to move forward. Don’t let an incest accusation derail your future.