Society has become quick to condemn and vilify public information. In this column first-year Paralegal student Charles Crosier breaks down what’s wrong and what’s right in: (Para) Legally Laughable! 

Disclaimer: This column in no way constitutes legal advice. It is simply an opinion of the author.

Entering my first year in paralegal studies I’ve come across certain things that are, without a doubt, laughable. This time around I’m going to focus on a personal favorite: Incest.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. ‘Incest?! What the HECK man?!’ I promise that this is worth it, so listen closely!

The standard definition for incest according to Merriam-Webster is as follows: “sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry; also, the statutory crime of such a relationship”. This is what I assume most people think of when the subject is brought up. However, common law is defined (again, by Merriam-Webster) as, “the body of law developed in England primarily from judicial decisions based on custom and precedent”. In short, a majority of our laws in the U.S. were originally based upon common law and then modified over time to fit our current world.

This brings us back to incest. In common law it is defined as “sexual intercourse between people related by consanguinity (blood) or affinity (marriage)” according to my Legal Assistant 102 coursework. Incest used to be defined as sexual relations between anyone related by blood or marriage… Wait, marriage?!

Of course this has been amended over the years because that’s how the law works. No longer do those of the married sort need to worry about committing crimes against the law, or humanity for that matter!

The current legal definition of incest as provided by USLegal is: “Laws vary by state, but generally, a person commits incest if s/he marries or engages in sexual intercourse with a person s/he knows to be, either legitimately or illegitimately:

  1. Her/His ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption; or
  2. Her/His brother or sister of the whole or half-blood or by adoption; or
  3. Her/His stepchild or stepparent, while the marriage creating the relationship exists; or
  4. Her/His aunt, uncle, nephew or niece of the whole or half-blood.”

Now that you’re armed with this new knowledge, go forth and try not to laugh every time you think about marriage, whether it is your own or someone else. If you do laugh then pass on the information and share the laughter!