In major sex offenses, the person
charged faces an uphill battle. These types of offenses are inflammatory in our
society and many people rush to judgment, deeming the person guilty from the
onset. The truth is there are people who are wrongly accused of committing
these types of offenses. This article serves to explore the nature of the laws
against incest, what the penalties are, and applicable defenses.

The Offense

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-6-22, a
person commits the offense of incest when such person engages in sexual
intercourse or sodomy, with a person he or she knows he or she is related to by
blood or by marriage as follows:

  • Mother and
    child or stepchild;
  • Father and
    child or stepchild;
  • Siblings of
    the whole blood or half blood;
  • Grandparent
    and grandchild of the whole blood or half blood;
  • Aunt and
    niece or nephew of the whole blood or half blood; or
  • Uncle and
    niece or nephew of the whole blood or half blood

The Penalty

Incest is a felony and a
conviction will result in between ten and thirty year’s imprisonment. If the
victim was under the age of fourteen, the prison term is between twenty-five
and fifty years. Furthermore, a person convicted of incest will be required to
register as a sex offender.


Before we discuss applicable
defenses, it is important to know what is
not a valid defense
to a charge of incest. It is not a defense that the
intercourse was consented to by the victim. Consent is invalid where the victim
is under the age of fourteen because that child is mentally incapable of giving

One applicable defense to a
charge of incest is that no sexual intercourse or sodomy occurred. But how does
someone prove something didn’t happen? Evidence tending to establish issues
with the victim’s credibility, bias, motives, or perception are beneficial to
the defense. Also, one should consider obtaining an expert witness to analyze
the case. An expert can assist in performing or rebutting forensic examinations
of the alleged victim.

Another possible defense is that
the parties involved simply do not meet the relationship required by law. The
law is very strict as to which relationships apply and if the relationship
falls outside of those stated under the law, a charge of incest will not stand.

Finally, the State has to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knows he or she is related to the
other person. The law requires proof the defendant knew or should have known
they are engaging in intercourse with someone who meets the relationship
requirements. However, one cannot simply ignore such a relationship when, under
the circumstances, the defendant should reasonably know of such as

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has
been arrested, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 for a free case evaluation. You’ll a local Atlanta attorney ready to
aggressively fight on your behalf.