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Bigamy laws in Texas

Bigamy laws in texas: charges, penaly, is bigamy in felony in Texas, Is bigamy legal ? How to report bigamy in Texas. Marriage is a vital aspect of every culture and society. Almost every state adopted the concept of monogamous marriages. 

Bigamy laws in texas: charges, penaly, is bigamy in felony in Texas, Is bigamy legal ? How to report bigamy in Texas
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Bigamy laws in texas: charges, penaly, is bigamy in felony in Texas, Is bigamy legal ? How to report bigamy in Texas

Monogamy marriages mean marriage between one man and one woman only. Thus anyone who marries twice commits bigamy. Almost every state prohibited bigamy and polygamy marriages. Many states still allow polygamy as their religious practice.

However, Is bigamy legal under Texas law? Is there any punishment for bigamy in Texas? Is bigamy a felony or misdemeanor in Texas?

If you got charged with bigamy or are a victim of bigamy in Texas, you must get aware of the legal consequences of bigamy under Texas law. In this article, we will discuss the bigamy laws in Texas briefly.

What is bigamy under Texas law?

In Texas, bigamy gets reckoned as a heinous crime. Marrying someone else while the former marriage is still valid is a criminal offence in Texas and attracts grave penal consequences.

Texas law considers bigamy as a felony and prescribes a harsh punishment. Texas law does not allow a person to enter subsequent marriage while their former marriage still subsists. However, a person becomes free to marry anyone if the former spouse dies or marriage becomes null and void. But the alleged offender must show the certified copy of the annulment, divorce, or death of the partner to prove their innocence.

A person who commits bigamy is called a bigamist.

Thus, Texas laws do not allow a person to marry twice or enter into any subsequent marriage when they are legally married to another person.

Besides, a second spouse from subsequent marriage does not have any legal rights on their partner’s assets. A former spouse has all the rights on their spouse’s property and is legally entitled to half of the portion of joint assets.

Many times people commit bigamy unintentionally, believing their former marriage legally ended. 

For example, A married couple filed for divorce in court and started living separately. After that, one spouse enters into subsequent marriage, believing the divorce gets finalized or marriage annulled while the divorce case is still pending in the court. Here the person unintentionally commits bigamy.

But in such cases, the alleged offender must produce the evidence to prove their unintentional crime in court. This evidence may be a certified copy of the death of a former spouse or a divorce decree of a court.

Is bigamy legal in Texas?

No, bigamy is not legal in Texas. Like most of the country, Texas law reckoned the concept of monogamous marriage as a legal form of marriage.

A person marrying twice at a time commits an offense of bigamy. Entering into subsequent marriage while already legally married to someone else or prior marriage still in force is said to commit bigamy. Therefore, a person is forbidden to marry another person during their spouse’s lifetime, and the marriage is not dissolved by the court’s decree.

It is stated under § 25.01 (a) Texas Penal Code, that a person commits bigamy if that person is legally married and:

  1. Desires to marry or does marry someone other than their legal spouse in Texas, or another state or foreign country
  2. Living under the appearance of being married to a person other than their spouse in this state

Or that person knows that another person is married and:

  1. Plans to marry or does marry with that person in this state, or any other state or foreign country
  2. lives with that person under the appearance of being married in Texas.

In this section, the appearance of being married means living as a married couple under the same roof or intending to marry each other. 

This section clearly states that a person cannot marry two people at a time. A person marrying someone else when already married commits bigamy and gets liable for punishment prescribed under law.

Is bigamy a felony in Texas?

There are two types of crimes: felony and misdemeanor. Grave or heinous offense comes under the category of felony prescribing more than; 1 year of imprisonment. On the other hand, a misdemeanour is a petty offence or minor wrongdoing punished with less than 1-year imprisonment or fine only. 

Many states consider bigamy illegal and some as a misdemeanor or legal. Bigamy laws differ from state to state.

Like many other states, Texas prohibits bigamy. It is considered a felony, not a misdemeanour, under Texas law.

Bigamy is considered a third-degree felony under Texas law books. A person committing bigamy gets jailed for; 2-10 years maximum and a fine of up to $10,000.

However, a bigamist gets charged as a first or second-degree felony if the other person is minor and liable for enhanced punishments.

According to Texas law, if the other person with whom the bigamist is involved is 17 years old, it is considered a second-degree felony.

If the said person is 16 years old or below 16 years of age, then the offence is regarded as a first-degree felony. 

Thus, Texas law reckoned bigamy as a felony, but the punishment differs according to the person’s age involved in the crime.

Charges of bigamy in Texas

A person committing bigamy gets charged with a third-degree felony under Texas law. According to the Texas penal code, title 6, section 25.1(a), Any person marring a person, intending to marry, or lives in appearance as being married to someone else when their prior marriage is still valid and subsisting commits bigamy and get charged with a third-degree felony. 

But a person gets charged with a first or second-degree felony if the other person does not attain the age of majority. 

According to this section, if the person with who bigamist is involved is;

  • 17 year old, then the bigamist get charged under section 25.1(e)(1) as a second-degree felony.
  • 16 years or below 16 years, the bigamist charged under section 25.1(e)(2) with a first-degree felony.

Penalty for bigamy in Texas

Like most countries, bigamy is a crime in Texas. Texas law prohibits any subsequent marriage while a former marriage is still valid. The person committing such an offense receives severe punishment.

According to § 25.01 (a) Texas penal code, marrying two times or marrying another person while prior marriage is still valid is bigamy.

Bigamy is a third-degree felony under Texas law books. A person committing bigamy is liable for;

  • up to 10 years imprisonment 
  • fine up to $10,000
  • Imprisonment and fine both

Under Texas law, a married person commuting bigamy is liable for enhanced punishment; if the person with whom the offender marries, intends to marry, or living as a married couple is below 18 years of age. 

If that person is 17 years old, the alleged offender commits a second-degree felony, punishable with up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000. 

If the said person is 16 years old or below 16 years of age, the offence gets charged as a first-degree felony, punishable with life imprisonment up to 99 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000. It means the offender will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Thus, marrying a minor person can put a bigamist behind the bar for their whole life. It is considered one of the most heinous crimes under Texas law.

Section 25(1) of the Texas penal code allows the alleged offender to defend his case by stating that they reasonably believed that the prior marriage ended due to death, divorce, annulment, or void before entering into a second marriage.

Besides, the alleged offender gets required to prove their innocence with a certified copy of the marriage annulment, divorce, or death of the former spouse.

How to report bigamy in Texas?

As bigamy is a crime, not a civil wrong, anyone can directly call or reach the police station and lodge an FIR for the alleged offense. Be assured before you complain about your bigamist partner, whether you want to see your spouse in jail or not. If the answer is yes, make sure you have strong evidence to support your allegation. 

Besides, section 25(1) of the Texas Penal Code allows the alleged offender to defend his case by stating that they reasonably believed that; the former marriage ended due to death, divorce, annulment, or void before entering into a second marriage. Although they have the right to defense, they require to prove their innocence with certified proof.

Further, you can get a divorce on the ground of the alleged offense. You also get entitled to half portion; of the shared assets and property your partner holds.

However, Texas law will not allow you to bring a case after; 7 years of the alleged offense. Texas limitation statute forbids a person to bring any suit regarding bigamy after; 7 years. Thus, you must not take too much time and lose your chance to punish your unfaithful spouse legally.

Read also: Bigamy laws in Texas

Editions 2022-March and August

External resources: lawcl

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