New York Incest Defense Attorneys
Incest is a serious crime in New York that can lead to severe penalties, including years in prison and sex offender registration. However, with an experienced New York incest defense attorney on your side, you may be able to fight the charges and protect your future. This article provides an overview of New York incest laws, penalties, and potential defenses to incest charges.
What is Considered Incest in New York?
Under New York law, incest occurs when someone engages in sexual conduct with a person they know to be related to them, either by blood or marriage. The familial relationships that qualify under the incest statute include:
- Ancestor and descendant (for example, parent and child)
- Siblings of whole or half blood (sharing both parents or just one parent)
- Aunt/uncle and niece/nephew
- Stepparent and stepchild
The type of sexual conduct prohibited includes sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, or anal sexual conduct. Importantly, the relationship can be consensual—the incest laws apply even if both parties willingly participate.
Overview of New York Incest Charges
There are three degrees of incest charges in New York:
Incest in the Third Degree
This lowest level incest charge applies when someone:
- Marries or engages in sexual conduct with a person they know is related to them as an ancestor, descendant, sibling, aunt/uncle, or niece/nephew
Incest in the third degree is a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
Incest in the Second Degree
Someone commits second degree incest when they:
- Engage in sexual conduct with a person they know is related to them as an ancestor, descendant, sibling, aunt/uncle, or niece/nephew, AND
- Are 18 years old or more
Second degree incest is a Class D felony with up to 7 years in prison.
Incest in the First Degree
The most serious incest charge, first degree incest occurs when someone:
- Commits first degree rape or first degree criminal sexual act against a person they know is related to them as an ancestor, descendant, sibling, aunt/uncle, or niece/nephew
First degree incest is a Class B violent felony with up to 25 years in prison.
Penalties for Incest Convictions
Beyond potential prison time, those convicted of incest in New York face other severe penalties:
- Sex offender registration: All incest convictions require registration with the sex offender registry under SORA (Sex Offender Registration Act). This brings restrictions on where you can live and work.
- Probation and parole: Terms of probation or parole may include sex offender treatment, restrictions on computer/Internet use, no contact orders, and more. Violating these terms leads to re-arrest and incarceration.
- Immigration consequences: Incest convictions can trigger deportation for non-citizens and prevent naturalization.
- Employment and licensing issues: Many jobs and licenses are barred for those with sex crime convictions.
- Social stigma: There is significant social stigma around incest that can isolate offenders.
Common Defenses to Incest Charges
While New York incest laws are broad, several defenses may apply depending on the circumstances of your case:
1. Lack of knowledge of relationship
All incest charges require the defendant knew the other person was a relative. If you can show you were unaware of the familial relationship at the time, this provides a complete defense.
2. False allegations
Unfortunately, false allegations happen, sometimes during bitter divorce and custody disputes. If you are falsely accused, an attorney can investigate inconsistencies and work to get charges dropped.
3. Consent issues
In cases involving minors or sexual assault, consent may be a valid defense. Minors cannot legally consent under New York law.
4. Mistake of age
If the other person lied about or misrepresented their age, you may have a defense against knowing incest.
While voluntary intoxication is not an excuse, involuntary intoxication preventing knowledge of the relationship may apply.
Don’t go through this alone. The stakes are high, but an incest defense attorney can give you the strongest chance at the best outcome given the circumstances. With an attorney in your corner, you can move forward and put this difficult situation behind you.