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Incest Law & Defense

PC 285 Crimes

Information on the crime of incest is found at California penal code section 285. Basically, incest means to marry, or have sexual intercourse with, persons who are related to one another within a certain degree of familial relationship.


PC 285 Law

PC 285 Persons related to each of within a certain degree of consanguinity, who either marry one another, or who are fourteen years of age or older and commit fornication or adultery with each other, are guilty of incest (Abbrev.).


To find the defendant guilty of incest pursuant to PC 285, the district attorney must prove all of the following:

  • The defendant has sexual intercourse with another person

  • When the defendant had sexual intercourse with another person, both the defendant and the other person were at least fourteen years old, and

  • The defendant and the other person are related to each other within a certain degree of relationship

Sexual intercourse: Per penal code 285, sexual intercourse means any penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or genitalia by the penis. Sexual intercourse does not include oral sex, mutual masturbation, sodomy, sexual penetration by foreign object, or sexual touching that does not include penetration by the penis into the vagina. However, crimes other than incest may be covered in these situations depending on the facts of the case.

Degree of blood relationship (consanguinity) proscribed by incest law:

  • Blood relationship between a child and parent (father or mother)

  • Blood relationship between full siblings (sister and brother)

  • Blood relationship between grandparent and grandchild

  • Blood relationship between great-grandparent and great-grandchild

  • Blood relationship between aunt or uncle to niece or nephew

  • Half-blood relationship between siblings (step-sister or step-brother)

  • Half-blood relationship between aunt or uncle to niece or nephew

Note: Same sex relationships are also covered under incest law.

PC 285 Punishment

Prison: PC 285 is classified as a felony. If found guilty of either having sexual intercourse with a related person, or marrying a related person, the defendant may face up to three years in prison.

Probation sentence: Probation, without having to serve a prison sentence, may be available in some cases depending on the egregiousness of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

PC 1170(h): If the accused is found guilty of incest, and he or she is not granted a probation sentence, then the defendant must serve his or her incarceration in a prison, as opposed to a local county jail. In addition, prison sentences for PC 285 may not be split (served partially in prison and partially out of prison on work release), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a condition of probation).

Sex Offender Registration: Any conviction of incest pursuant to PC 285 will require the defendant to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement.

Firearm Prohibition: If found guilty of PC 285 the defendant will lose his or her right to own or possess a firearm.

Collateral Punishment: In addition to a possible prison sentence, if found guilty of incest, the defendant may suffer harsh probation or parole terms, penalty fines, restraining orders (from brother, sister, son, daughter, etc.), Child Protection Services (CPS) consequences, immigration and professional licensing consequences, and more.

Defenses to PC 285

The most common defense to incest charges, include: demonstrating the defendant did not know of the relationship degree (mistake of fact), insufficient evidence to prove a sexual relationship occurred, statute of limitations, coerced confessions, police investigation misconduct, lack of jurisdiction to prove where the sexual intercourse took place, intoxication, insanity, and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with incest, or penal code 285, contact our sex crimes defense attorneys today. There is no charge for a consultation and we have successfully defended hundreds of sex crimes. Call today!


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