Bigamy in the state of California refers to the crime of marrying a person while being married to someone else. This crime is a “wobbler” charge in California. This means individuals could face either misdemeanor or felony charges. The court system uses Penal Code 281 to prosecute bigamy.
Acts of bigamy could result in fines and/or incarceration. The Simmrin Law Group understands bigamy charges in California and can help you fight them. Call us at (310) 997-4688 to learn more about PC 281 violations.
Legally Defining Bigamy in California
Individuals in California could face a bigamy charge if they marry someone while already being married to a living spouse. California courts impose bigamy charges even if someone:
- Is currently separated
- Attempted to get a divorce in the past but did not follow through
- Got married in another country or state
Bigamy is not allowed even if an individual’s first spouse consents to the second marriage. It is against the law to be married to two people at the same time. Anyone who breaks this law can face charges under PC 281.
Exceptions to California’s Bigamy Laws
Ending a marriage may prove complicated in California. There are a few exceptions to California’s laws on bigamy. For example, you are not committing bigamy if you marry someone after your first marriage was:
- Pronounced void
- Dissolved by the court
In some situations, a person may be presumed dead or otherwise go missing for a long period of time. During this time, their spouse may believe the person is no longer living. In this case, he or she would not be committing bigamy if they married someone else. This is true even if the first spouse was later found alive.
You may also be able to fight a bigamy charge if you believe your first marriage had legally ended. Review your bigamy charge with a criminal defense lawyer from the Simmrin Law Group at (310) 997-4688.
Charges Similar to Bigamy in the State of California
In the state of California, individuals could face charges for either marrying the spouse of another or for incest.
While incest usually means having sexual intercourse with a relative, someone may also face an incest charge if they marry a relative. Both of these acts are illegal in the state of California.
Results of a Conviction Under PC 281
PC 281 is a wobbler charge in California. Wobblers are special charges because prosecutors can choose to treat them as either misdemeanors or felonies. When deciding how to handle a wobbler, the prosecution may consider an individual’s past criminal history and any current charges, if applicable.
Misdemeanor charges are less serious than felony accusations. A misdemeanor conviction for bigamy could result in:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to one year
A felony conviction, on the other hand, may result in:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Prison time of up to three years
Additionally, individuals convicted of bigamy may face deportation issues. A conviction for bigamy may make an individual “inadmissible” for entry into the United States. This makes bigamy charges especially serious for people who migrated to the U.S. from another country.
Defenses Used Against Bigamy Accusations
If you’re facing a bigamy charge in the state of California, you can build your defense with a criminal defense lawyer. Our lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group can focus on the unique aspects of your case. Depending on the facts of your case, our lawyers can work to show that:
You Thought You Were No Longer Married
You may have believed you were legally divorced when you remarried in California. Accidentally marrying a second spouse does not have to result in a bigamy conviction. Talk to our team to learn more.
Your Marriage Was Annulled
Individuals in California can legally end their first marriage by annulment, then remarry. A lawyer can help you prove that your first marriage legally ended, thereby allowing you to remarry.
Contact a Lawyer About Fighting Penal Code 281: Bigamy Charges Today
Contact the Simmrin Law Group today if you are accused of bigamy in California. We know how to handle Penal Code 281 charges here in California and we can help you fight them. Reach out to us today by calling (310) 997-4688 or by filling out the contact form on our website for a free consultation.