Prohibited Sexual Conduct: Texas Penal Code §25.02

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Prohibited Sexual Conduct law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you engaged in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with certain relatives in your family.

This law makes it a crime to engage in incest. Illegal incest under Texas law might be more far-reaching than most realize. The law covers not only direct descendants (including adopted children), but also stepchildren, whole and half brothers and sisters (including adopted brothers and sisters), whole and half cousins, and more.

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The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 25.02. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 2009.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas Prohibited Sexual Conduct law under Title 6 “Offenses Against The Family,” Chapter 25 “Offenses Against The Family.” This chapter includes crimes that focus on familial, parent, and spousal relationships. Some of the offenses relate to sexual or violent behavior, while others deal with custody and possession of children. Learn more about the Texas offense of Prohibited Sexual Conduct below.

What is the current Texas law about Prohibited Sexual Conduct?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Prohibited Sexual Conduct in Penal Code Section §25.02 as follows:[1]

(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.

Is incest illegal in Texas?

Under the Prohibited Sexual Conduct law, it is illegal to engage in incest in Texas. The law specifies exactly which kinds of familial relationships qualify as illegal incest, including direct descendants (including adopted children), stepchildren, whole and half brothers and sisters (including adopted brothers and sisters), whole and half cousins, and others.

How can I be charged with a Prohibited Sexual Conduct offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Prohibited Sexual Conduct in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 25.02(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Prohibited Sexual Conduct in Texas?

Prohibited Sexual Conduct offenses have a three-year limitations period.[2]

What is the penalty for a Texas Prohibited Sexual Conduct offense?

A conviction for Prohibited Sexual Conduct in Texas is punished as a Felony of the Third Degree,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

If you engage in sexual intercourse with your ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption then a conviction for Prohibited Sexual Conduct in Texas is punished as a Felony of the Second Degree,[4] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $20,000 and prison time of up to 20 years. This would include a parent or a child, whether related genetically or adopted.

Can you get probation for Prohibited Sexual Conduct in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Prohibited Sexual Conduct, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[5]

Note, however, that no matter the offense, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[6] Also, judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[7]

Do I have to register as a sex offender in Texas if guilty of Prohibited Sexual Conduct?

Any Texas Prohibited Sexual Conduct conviction or adjudication, including deferred adjudication, requires registration as a sex offender.[8]

What level of crime is Prohibited Sexual Conduct in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies the punishment for Prohibited Sexual Conduct as a second or third degree felony, depending on the circumstances.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §25.02. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^3. Texas Penal Code §25.02(c)^4. Texas Penal Code §25.02(c)^5. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^6. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^7. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^8. Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 62.001(5)(A)


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