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.
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
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 consent.
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 relationship.
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.