Incest Laws and Criminal Charges

Posted by Chris Morales on Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 08:50 AM

Learn what constitutes incest and the penalties associated with it.

Incest, which is sexual relations between (non-spouse) family members, is outlawed in most countries, including the United States. Incest laws aim to promote security and unity with the family, and to prevent the genetic problems that often occur in babies whose parents are related.

In the U.S., incest is regulated by state, not federal law, and every state has one or more laws banning this problematic behavior. And while states sometimes vary in defining the outer boundaries of who is considered “family” and the exact behaviors that are off-limits, the underlying goals or policy considerations remain consistent among states.

Recognizing the disruptive nature of incest on healthy family relationships and power dynamics, all state incest laws outlaw sex between close blood relations, and many states also include step-, foster, and adoptive relations, too. And in some states, even unconsummated marriage between close relations is considered incest.

What is “Family?”

For the purposes of incest laws, “family” can mean several things: blood relations, family by adoption or marriage (including step-family members), foster families, and sometimes even “family-like” situations (such as a parent and child who live with the parent’s boy- or girlfriend).

All states include close blood relations— parents, children, aunts, uncles, and grandparents—in the definition of “family.” Closely-related cousins, such as the children of a parent’s sibling, are also included in most states, although more distant cousins are sometimes exempted from incest laws.

In general, the more distant the relation, the less likely that it will be considered as "family" for purposes of incest law. However, other factors (for example, distant cousins being raised in the same household like siblings) can make an otherwise non-problematic relationship incestuous.

Prosecution and Defenses

Often, a situation involving incest also implicates other criminal laws. For example, child abuse and rape (and statutory rape) may be charged as well. Local prosecutors have discretion about whether to bring charges under the state incest law or other applicable laws. Similarly, if a relationship is too attenuated to qualify as an incest crime, the prosecutor will usually have other laws (such as those covering molestation, lewd acts, or rape) under which to prosecute the defendant.

Consent not a defense

A defendant may be convicted of engaging in incest if he knowingly engaged in a sexual encounter with a family member (if no encounter actually took place, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with attempted incest). Because of this, the consent of the other party is not a defense. Of course, as noted, if the victim did not consent and was forced, or was underage, a defendant may face charges for other sex offenses—such as rape and statutory rape—instead of (or in addition to) the incest charge.

For more on rape, see Statutory Rape. And to learn more about statutory rape, see Rape Laws, Defenses, and Penalties.

Who is charged?

Although the ages of the parties are not relevant in proving that incest took place (and are not a defense to such charges), the age of the parties may be relevant as far as who is prosecuted for the crime. For example, if an adult parent has consensual sex with a minor son or daughter, the parent may be prosecuted, while the child will be considered a victim

But where two siblings of similar age are sexually involved with each other, they might both be prosecuted (although many states handle crimes committed by minors through juvenile or family court). For more on crimes committed by minors, see The Juvenile Justice System.

Old cases and the statute of limitations

All states set time periods in which a crime may be prosecuted, such as five or ten years after the incident. Such laws are intended to ensure that cases are handled relatively quickly, and recognize the danger in prosecuting old cases where the facts may be difficult to discern. In some states, if a long time has passed since the time of an incestuous encounter or relationship and a prosecution, the defendant may claim that the statute of limitations has run.

For more information on state statutes of limitation, with state-by-state information, see Criminal Statutes of Limitations.


Penalties for an incest conviction vary according to state law, but may include separation of family members (if a child is involved, the child may be placed in foster or other care), or a jail or prison term of several months to many years.

For information on felony charges and sentences on a state-by-state basis, see Classification of Crimes: Felonies & Misdemeanors.

Help for Incest Survivors

If you or someone you know is a victim of incest or another sex crime, there is free and confidential help available to you. Contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) for online help and local resources.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you are facing an incest charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. A lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you, help develop any defenses that might apply to your case, and will know how local prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours.

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Tags: Criminal Charges, incest laws, penalties, federal law, defense, prosecution

Airport Shuttle Service Faces Charges over Illegal Donations

Posted by Chris Morales on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Lorrie's Travel & Tours Inc's executives have been charged with money laundering and violating election campaign contribution rules. Lorrie's Travel & Tours Inc is an airport shuttle service, whose founder is Tony Ruiz.

To raise its profile, Lorrie's Travel & Tours Inc had donated a large sum of money to Mayor Ed Lee prior to his election campaign. Allegations have not yet been brought against Lee as there is no evidence regarding the donations influencing the airport’s official decisions.

Tony Ruiz Advised Grandson to Make an Impact Donation

Tony Ruiz died on September 23rd. Before his death, Ruiz met Jason Perez, his grandson to discuss the business. Ruiz felt that his company was overshadowed by bigger airport shuttle companies. He also met Larry Del Carlo, the general manager of Lorrie's Travel & Tours Inc in this regard. Tony Ruiz discussed with Mission Housing Development Corp’s CEO, the appropriate measures to be taken to combat competition from bigger firms.

Jason Perez was advised by his grandfather to get Lee’s attention by making an impact donation. Perez's attorney, Tony Brass, stated that according to Ruiz, people with political connections may stimulate the growth of his business.

Financial Officers of Shuttle Service too Facing Federal Charges

The chief financial officers of Lorrie's Travel & Tours Inc, Hanan Qutami and Perez are facing several allegations. They have been accused of money laundering and making illegal campaign contributions. 56 year old Qutami of South San Francisco and 40 year old Perez of San Mateo have been accused of violating the campaign finance limit of the state. The alleged also violated the federal law on a corporate contributions ban.

Christopher Morales is an experienced San Francisco Criminal Lawyer. To arrange for a consultation with San Francisco White Collar Criminal Defense regarding similar white collar crimes, contact us.


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Tags: San Francisco Criminal Lawyer, federal law, white collar crimes

Californian Sales Manger Arrested for Fraud Charges

Posted by Chris Morales on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

A Northern California based sales manager was arrested recently on fraud charges. The sales manager worked for the Seenos, a Californian family. The arrest was made in connection with a housing scheme of 2008.

Sales Manager Fraudulently Purchased Properties

The accused was reportedly involved in a scheme for fraudulently purchasing properties in Seenos name. The sales manger used funds from a company owned by Seenos, to purchase 4 houses. These were developed by a homebuilding company held by the Seenos, called Seenos Homes. This led to banks overvaluing the properties held by Seenos, according to reports submitted by an FBI agent investigating the case.

Fraudulent Scheme is a Builder’s Bailout

The chairperson of Nevada Fight Fraud Task Force, Elisabeth Daniels said that fraud experts describe the scheme as “builder’s bailout”. It is one of the most elaborate schemes in the housing crunch. The scheme involves a straw person who purchases homes and causes the pumping up of the market.

Seenos Lawyer - Family’s Involvement in the Scheme Unlikely

Seenos' defense lawyer, Bill Goodman stated that charges regarding the family’s involvement in the fraudulent scheme to affect the housing market are false. The company owned by the Seenos was not a part of any builder’s bailout scheme. The lawyer added that he will disclose details of transactions made by the Seenos to clear the family's name.

The Seenos own gaming licenses for running the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino and 5 Nevada based casinos. Licensees lose the right to hold licenses in case they violate federal law. Nevada Gaming Control Board is yet to disclose its decision regarding the case.

Christopher Morales is an experienced San Francisco Criminal Lawyer. If you are looking for an experienced San Francisco White Collar Criminal Defense regarding similar cases, call us.


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Tags: fraud, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer, federal law

Former Deputy of Los Angeles Jail Accused of Bribery

Posted by Chris Morales on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 @ 05:16 AM

A former sheriff’s deputy has been alleged to have been involved in bribery. The accused, Gilbert Michel, smuggled goods into the Men's Central Jail. According to reports from the office of a US attorney, the 38 year old Michel was snared in a sting operation conducted by the FBI last fall. 

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Tags: bribery, federal court, federal law

A Brief Overview of the Federal Criminal Asset Forfeiture Laws

Posted by Chris Morales on Fri, Aug 26, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

Criminal forfeiture actions are court proceedings in which the property that is subject to forfeiture is named in the same indictment that charges a defendant with a criminal violation. While there is some discrepancy among the courts, it is clear that the government must meet the legal standard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" necessary to find a defendant guilty in order to forfeit the property.

Additionally, the property may be forfeited in this way only if: (1) the defendant is found guilty of the underlying offense charged, and (2) the trier of fact determines that the property listed in the indictment was unlawfully tainted.  A
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Tags: white collar crime, San Francisco Criminal Attorney, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer, federal crime, federal court, forefeiture, federal law

Federal Environmental Statutes to Be Used Against Marijuana Growers

Posted by Chris Morales on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 01:00 PM

With the legalization of marijuana an ever growing debate in California, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California has made a surprising announcement that it will begin to prosecute marijuana growers under federal environmental statutes. This is a new and extremely controversial move by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Tags: pot, marijuana, U.S. Attorney's Office, marijuana growers, federal law, federal prosecution, pot growers

New Dodd-Frank Rules Give Monetary Incentive to Whistle-Blowers

Posted by Chris Morales on Mon, Aug 08, 2011 @ 10:00 AM

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioners recently voted 3-2 to implement a new rule that allows corporate whistle-blowers to collect as much as 30% of penalties when they report financial wrongdoing.  The rules implement Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The program was created to “reward individuals who provide the agency with high-quality tips that lead to successful enforcement actions.” 

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Tags: white collar crime, San Francisco Criminal Attorney, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer, Whistle-Blower, Dodd-Frank Act, federal law, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC

Don’t Let Flying Land You in Federal Court

Posted by Chris Morales on Wed, Jun 08, 2011 @ 10:46 AM

On May 8, 2011, Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi, was flying on American Airlines Flight 1561 from Chicago to San Francisco, when he allegedly arose from his seat and began knocking on the cockpit door.  Passengers and flight crew members held Mr. Al-Murisi down until police arrested him when the plane made a safe landing at San Francisco International Airport.

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Tags: San Francisco Criminal Attorney, federal court, American Airlines Flight 1561, 18 U.S.C. 46504, federal law, Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi, San Francisco International Airport