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Incest Crimes
(PC 285)
Law, Punishment, & Defense

Information on the crime of incest is found at California penal code section 285. The following is a brief overview of the law and punishment related to PC 285 incest crimes. For more information, contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation.

PC 285 Law

PC 285: Persons knowingly are related to each other within a certain degree of consanguinity (blood), 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.).

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.

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

  • Blood relationship between a child and parent

  • Blood relationship between full siblings

  • 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 (stepsister or stepbrother)

  • 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 Sentence: PC 285 is classified as a felony. If found guilty of incest, the defendant may face up to three years in prison (PC285-F).

Probation sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, as opposed to a prison sentence. A probation sentence may be available in some incest cases depending on the egregiousness of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Probation sentences carry 'terms of probation,' which must be obeyed to remain on probation. These terms of probation in PC 285 cases usually include, but are not limited to, the following: stay away from the victim (criminal protective order), pay restitution for any economic loss to the victim, stay out of trouble (no felony or misdemeanor crime while on probation), register as a sex offender pursuant to PC 290, and more).

No Suspended Prison Sentence: 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 California state prison, as opposed to a local county jail. In addition, prison sentences for PC 285 may neither be split (served partially in prison and partially out of prison on work release), nor suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a condition of probation).


Sex Offender Registration: A conviction of incest pursuant to PC 285 will require the defendant to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement. The length of sex offender registration is twenty (20) years under California’s new Tier System for Sex Offenders.

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, Child Protection Services (CPS) consequences, immigration and professional licensing consequences, firearm restriction consequences, and more.

Defense to PC 285

The most common defenses to incest criminal charges include, insufficient evidence to prove the defendant knew of his or her degree of blood relationship to the other person (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. For more common defenses to PC 285 incest charges, see Sex Crimes Defense Options.

If you or a loved one is charged with incest, or penal code 285, contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys today. Our team of highly experienced criminal defense attorney have successfully helped hundreds of clients charged with misdemeanor and felony sex crimes, including incest criminal charges. There is no charge for a discreet consultation with our attorneys every day of the week. Call today!


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