Bigamy Law in Texas – Penal Code 25.01

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 Can I Sue for Bigamy in Texas?

Under Texas Penal Code Section 25.01, bigamy is illegal in the State of Texas. This law provides that an individual commits this offense if they are legally married and they:

  • Marry or purport to marry another individual;
  • Live with another individual under the appearance of being married.

Marry or or purpose to marry another individual

This includes the act of going through a marriage ceremony with another individual when they are already legally married. This also includes situations where an individual may not have formally married another individual, but they present themselves as a married couple.

For example, suppose Tom is legally married to Taylor. While married to Taylor, Tom meets Susan.

Tom has a wedding ceremony with Susan without divorcing Taylor first. Tom has married or purported to marry another individual while still being legally married to Taylor and has committed the offense of bigamy.

Live with another individual under the appearance of being married

Living with another individual under the appearance of being married means that an individual is residing with an individual in a manner that suggests they are married, even though they are not legally married. This may include:

  • Sharing a home;
  • Using the same last name;
  • Referring to each other as husband and wife;
  • Generally presenting themselves to other individuals as a married couple.

Following the example above, suppose Tom does not marry Susan but moves in with her. They begin using the same last name, call each other husband and wife, and present themselves as a married couple to their family and friends.

Although they did not have a formal marriage ceremony, they are living under the appearance of being married. Because Tom is still married to Taylor, this would be considered bigamy in Texas.

In the examples discussed above, Tom would be committing bigamy under Texas Penal Code Section 25.01 because he is engaging in marital relationships with two women at the same time.

What Are the Requirements for Bigamy?

Bigamy is defined as marrying one individual while still being legally married to another, as discussed above. Bigamy is considered a criminal act in many jurisdictions, including Texas, because it may lead to complications with regard to:

If an individual has any questions regarding bigamy in Texas, they should consult with a local attorney in Texas.

What Does the Term “Under the Appearance of Being Married” Mean?

Under the appearance of being married generally means that one individual and another present themselves to other individuals as if they are married without being legally married. As discussed above, this may include using the same last name, calling each other husband and wife, and other conduct that would create the impression of a marital relationship.

How to Report Bigamy?

If an individual needs to report bigamy, they can contact their local law enforcement or district attorney’s office.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Bigamy?

The statute of limitations on bigamy in the State of Texas is seven years. This means that an individual has seven years to file a claim or charges related to bigamy.

Is Bigamy a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Texas?

In the State of Texas, bigamy is classified as a felony of the third degree. This means that bigamy in Texas is a serious crime that can result in significant penalties.

Can I Be Jailed for Bigamy?

Yes, an individual may be jailed for bigamy in Texas. Because it is a third-degree felony, if an individual is convicted of bigamy, they may face two to ten years in prison, criminal fines of up to $10,000, or a combination of both.

Can I Receive More Prison Time for Bigamy?

In Texas, there are specific circumstances under which bigamy may be classified as a second-degree felony, which may lead to longer prison sentences. For example, the other party may be 16 years of age or younger, or an individual may commit bigamy in order to commit an act of fraud or other crime. If that is the case, they may face harsher penalties.

Suppose an individual named Matt is married to Lydia. Matt then has a marriage ceremony with Rhonda, who is only 16 years old.

Matt participates in this ceremony without first divorcing Lydia. In this example, because Rhonda is under the age of 17, Matt has committed bigamy with a minor, which elevates the offense to a second-degree felony under Texas laws.

If convicted, Matt may face an increased prison sentence of up to 20 years in addition to higher criminal fines. Now, suppose that Matt convinced Rhonda to marry him under false pretenses, promising her a better life as well as financial support while intending to defraud her of her inheritance.

It may be shown in court that Matt committed bigamy with the intent of committing fraud. If so, this may also enhance the severity of the penalties he may face. These examples demonstrate how the law considered the age of the other party as well as the intent behind the bigamy when determining the penalties.

In addition, these circumstances may increase the severity of the defendant’s punishment. The exact outcome, however, will depend on the specific details of the criminal case as well as the discretion of the court.

It is essential to consult with an experienced attorney when facing bigamy charges.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are facing bigamy charges in the State of Texas, it is important to consult with a Texas criminal lawyer. The legal system can be complex to navigate, and your lawyer will help ensure that your rights are protected as well as provide a solid defense in court on your behalf.

Your lawyer will understand the Texas bigamy laws, their nuances, and how they will apply to your case. Your attorney will also be able to explain the charges against you and the penalties you may face, which will help you have a clear understanding of your situation.

Your attorney’s primary responsibility is to protect your constitutional rights throughout the legal process. Your lawyer will ensure that you are treated fairly, that proper legal procedures are followed, and that any evidence against you was obtained legally and is challenged, if necessary.

Your case may be eligible for alternative sentencing or plea negotiations, which your lawyer will oversee. Your lawyer may be able to obtain a more favorable outcome for your case, such as reduced charges or lesser penalties. If your case proceeds to trial, having an attorney represent you is crucial. Your attorney will present your defense, cross-examine witnesses, and advocate on your behalf, which increases your chances of a favorable verdict.

If you are convicted, your lawyer will be able to present mitigating factors to the court during your sentencing phase. This may result in a more lenient sentence based on factors including remorse, cooperation, or the absence of a prior criminal record.

LegalMatch is an online platform that can connect you with a criminal lawyer in Texas who is ready to begin work on your case. The system will match you with attorneys in your area who fit your needs and budget and can provide the best possible defense in your case.

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