Incest Laws by State

Incest – broadly defined as the sexual relationship between two close family members – is one of the most widespread cultural taboos in past and present societies. Indeed, the prohibition of incest is present in a vast majority of known societies, to the extent that it became a social norm. Yet, some forms of incestual practices can be found in some past societies. In Ancient Egypt for example, it was common for a member of the royal family to marry someone closely related: a brother, a mother, a father, a cousin. It was a way of perpetuating the royal lineage. Incestuous marriages were also allowed in the royal houses of the Incas, Ancient Hawaii, or Ancient Japan. Views may also diverge on what constitutes immoral incest. In Samoa for instance, a marriage between a brother and an older sister was authorized. However, a marriage between a brother and a younger sister was perceived as unethical.

From myth to religion to psychanalysis to literature and film, incest and its taboo has been widely discussed over the centuries. One well-known mention of incest is in Greek mythology when Œdipus kills his father and marries his mother. At the end of the 19th century, Sigmund Freud will then draw on this myth to address the question of interdiction and taboo with his Œdipus complex. The Bible also mentions a number of incestuous relationships. More recently, Russian author Vladimir Nabokov wrote Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle which depicts the relationship between a brother and a sister. The famous TV show Game of Thrones also represents incest in the guise of Cersei Lannister.

Is Incest Illegal?

In addition to moral restrictions and social norms, countries all over the world have also established laws regulating incest, including the United States. Consensual incest is largely illegal across the country, prohibiting intimate relationships and marriage between consenting adults. Even in states where consensual incest is not considered to be a criminal offense, it is for two adults with a close familial relationship to get married.

In states where consensual incest is illegal, the punishment ranges from a fine to time in jail. Moreover, what is considered a “close familial relationship” is left to be defined by the individual state, but it most often includes biological parents, grandparents, and siblings, and can extend to first or second cousins. Some states outlaw consensual incest between a parent and child but not between two siblings. While there is no Supreme Court precedent on the constitutionality of incest laws, no court of appeals has found incest laws to be per se unconstitutional.

Incest Laws by State

Within the country, incest laws vary widely from state to state regarding the definition of the offense as well as the penalties for its commission. Yet, almost all of them criminalize incestuous relationships. The state of New Jersey and Rhode Island appear as exceptions, where incest between consenting adults (18 and 16 respectively) is not a criminal offense. Additionally, New Jersey prohibits incestuous relationships with underage individuals and severely condemns them: in case of sexual assault, an individual can be sentenced to at least 15 years of prison without parole.

Like New Jersey and Rhode Island, the state of Ohio stands out as well when it comes to incest laws. Ohio laws prohibit and criminalize incest only when a parental figure is involved. In other words, Ohio allows incestuous relationships between consenting adults only when one of them is not a parental figure (a parent, step-parent, guardian, etc.) to the other.

Learn more about incest laws by state by scrolling through the data in the charts.

Consensual Incest Legality Status by State

Alabama

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#20 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

19

#2 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#9 in the US

Alaska

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#21 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#4 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#10 in the US

Arizona

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#1 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#5 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#11 in the US

Arkansas

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#22 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#6 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

17

#4 in the US

California

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#2 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#7 in the US

Colorado

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#12 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#8 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#12 in the US

Connecticut

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#23 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#9 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#13 in the US

Delaware

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#3 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#10 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#14 in the US

Florida

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#4 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#11 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#15 in the US

Georgia

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#25 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#12 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#16 in the US

Hawaii

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#26 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#13 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

15

#45 in the US

Idaho

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#5 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#14 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#17 in the US

Illinois

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#13 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#15 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#18 in the US

Indiana

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#27 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#16 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

17

#5 in the US

Iowa

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#28 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#17 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#19 in the US

Kansas

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#29 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#18 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#20 in the US

Kentucky

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#30 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#19 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

18

#1 in the US

Louisiana

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#14 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#20 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

18

#2 in the US

Maine

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#31 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#21 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#21 in the US

Maryland

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#32 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#22 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#22 in the US

Massachusetts

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#33 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#23 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

14

#47 in the US

Michigan

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#34 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#24 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#23 in the US

Minnesota

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#35 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#25 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#24 in the US

Mississippi

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#36 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

21

#1 in the US

Missouri

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#15 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#26 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

15

#46 in the US

Montana

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#37 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#27 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#25 in the US

Nebraska

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#38 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

19

#3 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

17

#6 in the US

Nevada

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#39 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#28 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#26 in the US

New Hampshire

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#40 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#29 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

14

#48 in the US

New Jersey

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

Yes

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#41 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#30 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#27 in the US

New Mexico

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#16 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#31 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#28 in the US

New York

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#17 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#32 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#29 in the US

North Carolina

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#42 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#33 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#30 in the US

North Dakota

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#6 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#34 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#31 in the US

Ohio

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#43 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#35 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#32 in the US

Oklahoma

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#44 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#36 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#33 in the US

Oregon

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#7 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#37 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

17

#7 in the US

Pennsylvania

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#45 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#38 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#34 in the US

Rhode Island

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

Yes

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#46 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#39 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#35 in the US

South Carolina

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#47 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#40 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#36 in the US

South Dakota

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#48 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#41 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#37 in the US

Tennessee

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#8 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#42 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#38 in the US

Texas

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#18 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#43 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#39 in the US

Utah

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CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#9 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#44 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#40 in the US

Vermont

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#49 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#45 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#41 in the US

Virginia

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#10 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#46 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#42 in the US

Washington

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#50 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#47 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

17

#8 in the US

West Virginia

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

16

#51 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#48 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

18

#3 in the US

Wisconsin

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

18

#11 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#49 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#43 in the US

Wyoming

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do_not_disturb_on

CONSENSUAL INCEST LEGALITY STATUShelp

No

AGE OF CONSENThelp

17

#19 in the US

AGE OF MAJORITYhelp

18

#50 in the US

MINIMUM MARRIAGE AGEhelp

16

#44 in the US