Caride to Introduce Bill to Re-Criminalize Incest in New Jersey after New York Magazine Story

Assemblywoman Marlene Caride is introducing legislation this week to re-criminalize incest in New Jersey in light of a recent New York Magazine interview with an 18-year old woman from the Great Lakes region who plans on marrying her long-estranged father and moving to New Jersey since incest is not illegal under state law.

“This bill will update our criminal codes to bring them in line, not only with most other states, but with widely accepted-moral codes,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “To be honest, I was shocked to learn that incest is not currently illegal in New Jersey. Whether this was intentional or an oversight when our criminal codes were rewritten, I think we will have widespread support for rewriting it into our books.”

Specifically, Caride’s bill would reestablish the crime of incest in New Jersey since it was eliminated from state statute when New Jersey’s criminal code was revised in 1978. At that time, the statute sections referring to incest were replaced to only address incestuous sexual acts involving minors as a form of sexual assault.

Under her bill, a person would be guilty of incest for:

1) knowingly entering into a marriage or civil union that is prohibited by the state’s marriage laws (R.S.37:1-1), including those between a person and any of the person’s blood or half-blood ancestors (e.g., a parent or grand parent), descendants (e.g., a child or grand child), siblings, nieces and nephews, and aunts and uncles; or

2) knowingly committing an act of sexual penetration with any of the above listed persons with whom the actor is prohibited from entering into a marriage or civil union.

The bill would make incest a crime of the third degree, which is typically punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. However, if a person is convicted of the crime of incest for an act of sexual penetration with an ancestor or descendent, the person would be subject to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. That mandatory term would be one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, during which time the person would not be eligible for parole.