Is incest illegal in Texas? Prohibited Sexual Conduct

Is incest illegal in Texas? Prohibited Sexual Conduct

Incest is illegal in Texas. The prohibition against incest is laid out in Penal Code Section 25.02. Even amongst consenting adults, certain sexual conduct is prohibited by law.  The most serious conduct, sex with a parent or child (even with an adult child), is a second-degree felony.  Second-degree felonies are punishable with a minimum of two years in prison. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison. A fine of up to $10,000 can also be imposed.

When the sexual conduct is not between a parent and child, but between other covered family members, the offense is a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Like parent-child incest, third-degree felonies have a two-year minimum sentence. Additionally, third-degree felonies also come with a fine of up to $10,000.

Other prohibited sexual conduct includes sex between a stepparent and stepchild. This is true even if the stepchild is an adult. It is also true even if the stepparent has since divorced the adult child’s biological parent. Sex between siblings, including half-siblings, is also prohibited. Similarly, sex between an aunt or uncle and niece or nephew is prohibited. First cousins, the children of the actor’s aunt or uncle, also cannot have consensual sex under the law. In each of these circumstances, whether the person is related by blood, either full or half, or by adoption, the law remains the same.

The types of sexual conduct covered by the statute include “sexual intercourse,” which the state of Texas defines as penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ. The statute also covers “deviate sexual intercourse.” This includes any contact between the genitals of one person with the mouth or anus of another person, provided the intent of the conduct is to arouse or provide sexual gratification.

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Penal Code Sec. 25.02


(a)  A person commits an offense if the person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with another person the actor knows to be, without regard to legitimacy:

(1)  the actor’s ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption;

(2)  the actor’s current or former stepchild or stepparent;

(3)  the actor’s parent’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood;

(4)  the actor’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood or by adoption;

(5)  the children of the actor’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood or by adoption; or

(6)  the son or daughter of the actor’s aunt or uncle of the whole or half blood or by adoption.

(b)  For purposes of this section:

(1)  “Deviate sexual intercourse” means any contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

(2)  “Sexual intercourse” means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.

(c)  An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree, unless the offense is committed under Subsection (a)(1), in which event the offense is a felony of the second degree.


Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese