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Incest is marriage or sexual relations between close relatives. The criminal offense of incest may also be known as prohibited sexual conduct. Laws vary from state to state, but incest laws generally prohibit marriage or sexual relations between (1) a person’s ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption; (2) a person’s current or former stepchild or stepparent; (3) a person’s parent’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood; (4) a person’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood or by adoption; (5) the children of a person’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood, or by adoption; or (6) the son or daughter of a person’s aunt or uncle of the whole or half blood or by adoption.

Lack of consent to sexual relations between such relatives is not an element of the crime, and persons may be guilty of the crime even if both parties consented.

Laws regarding incest or prohibited sexual contact vary from state to state and are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code. The crime is a felony offense in many states, with potential punishment of significant jail or prison time.

In Texas, incest, also referred to as prohibited sexual conduct, is outlined under Texas Penal Code § 25.02. The law prohibits sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse between certain close relatives. This includes ancestors and descendants by blood or adoption, siblings whether by whole or half blood or by adoption, and current or former stepchildren or stepparents. It also extends to uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces. Consent is not a defense to a charge of incest in Texas, meaning that the crime can be prosecuted even if both parties were consenting adults. Violation of these laws is considered a felony in Texas, and those convicted may face significant penalties, including imprisonment.

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