It’s shocking to hear about bigamy when you read about cases in the news or see them on TV. But most of the time when people find they are married to two people at once, it’s because they mistakenly believed their earlier marriage had been dissolved.
Whether you commit bigamy by accident or on purpose, you can face serious complications if you don’t seek legal help. If you are charged, you need to retain an attorney with knowledge of bigamy law as soon as possible.
What You Need To Know About Bigamy
In Pennsylvania, bigamy is when a married person contracts, or purports to contract, another marriage.
Bigamy is a misdemeanor of the second degree and you can face up to two years in prison.
If you marry someone even though you know they are already legally married to someone else, you can also be charged with bigamy.
It is not bigamy if, at the time of the subsequent marriage, you:
- Believed your previous spouse was dead.
- You and your previous spouse had been living apart for two consecutive years and you didn’t know if your previous spouse was alive.
- The court entered a judgment to terminate or annul any prior disqualifying marriage and you do not know that judgment to be invalid.
What To Do If You Are Charged
If you are charged with bigamy, do not discuss what happened with the arresting officer or claim your innocence.
- As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you.
- If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.
What Your Lawyer Can Do
Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.
- If you find that you are legally married to more than one person, but you meet the criteria for having believed your prior spouse was dead, or if you had a judgment dissolving your previous marriage, your lawyer will work to find the proof that backs up your claims.
- Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.
How A Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against a bigamy charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.
Pennsylvania Interfering With Bigamy Law
Bigamy is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 43. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.