Offenses Against the Family

Chapter 43 of the Crimes and Offenses Title of the Pennsylvania Code establishes five crimes that are collectively known as, “Offenses Against the Family.” These crimes are:

  • Bigamy
  • Incest
  • Concealing the Death of a Child
  • Endangering the Welfare of Children
  • Dealing in Infant Children


In Pennsylvania, the crime of bigamy is defined as either (i) entering into a contract for marriage while already married, or (ii) knowingly entering into a contract for marriage with a person who is already married. Defenses to bigamy include:

  • Belief that the prior spouse is deceased;
  • Living apart for two years while not knowing that the prior spouse is alive; and,
  • Not knowing that a judgment for annulment or divorce is invalid.


A person commits the crime of incest under Pennsylvania law if he or she, “knowingly marries[,] cohabits or has sexual intercourse with an ancestor or descendant, a brother or sister of the whole or half blood or an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the whole blood.” For purposes of the incest statute, a “descendant” includes an adopted child. Incest is a second-degree felony in Pennsylvania.

Concealing the Death of a Child

Concealing the death of a child is a first-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. The law applies to biological mothers and fathers, and it applies to situations in which a parent either directly or “by the procurement of others” attempts to conceal their child’s death. Parents can be charged with concealing the death of a child if the child was stillborn or born alive.

Endangering the Welfare of Children

Most criminal cases under Chapter 43 involve endangering the welfare of children. Pennsylvania’s child endangerment statute applies to parents, guardians and “other person[s] supervising the welfare of a child,” and it imposes penalties ranging from five years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine to seven years in prison and fines of $15,000. Parents and guardians found guilty of endangering the welfare of a child can face other severe consequences as well.

Dealing in Infant Children

Buying, selling, trading or bartering an infant child is a first-degree misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law. Potential penalties include up to five years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

Experienced Legal Defense for Offenses Against the Family in Pittsburgh, PA

If you are facing charges for endangering the welfare of a child or any other family-related criminal offense in the Pittsburgh area, criminal defense attorney Randall McKinney can help protect you. With over a decade of experience, Attorney McKinney has represented numerous clients in high-stakes criminal cases, and he understands that situations involving children and families are often more complicated than they initially seem. Whether you are innocent of the crime alleged or you need to focus on challenging other aspects of the prosecution’s case, Attorney McKinney can make sure that the consequences you face are no greater than absolutely necessary.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Pittsburgh Defense Attorney Randall McKinney

To discuss your case with Attorney McKinney, call us at (412) 520-3301 or contact us online. We will schedule your free initial consultation as soon as possible.