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. Criminal defense attorney Joseph Lento is well-versed in Pennsylvania criminal law; he understands 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 Jospeh Lento 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. Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm will use his familiarity with Pennsylvania law and his experience in criminal court rooms to build you a strong and credible defense. Do not hesitate to contact Joseph D. Lento today at (21) 535-5353 and arrange your consultation.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade 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 Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, Outside of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance is educational advice, and does not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.