Bigamy

Bigamy is in section 64 of the Crimes Act 1958 in Victoria. It is committed by a person who is legally married to 2 or more people.

Have you been accused of Bigamy?

Police Interview
If the police suspect you of Bigamy, they will want to formerly interview you. It is best not to ignore the police request for an interview to avoid the embarrassment of them attending your work or home to arrest you.

Before the interview is started, you will be given an opportunity to speak to a lawyer. Do not treat the interview process causally and think that you don’t need legal advice. The interview process is set up to help police compile their evidence against you, it is not designed to assist your position.

Our lawyers have experience in attending police interviews and can attend with you if you feel more comfortable.

Pleading Not Guilty
If you have been charged with Bigamy, you will want competent legal representation from a lawyer about defending the allegation in Court. The prosecution will present a brief containing evidence they say shows you are guilty of Bigamy to the jury. At Doogue + George Defence Lawyers, our lawyers are skilled advocates and will vigorously represent you in Court to give you the best chance of securing a not guilty verdict.

Pleading Guilty
If you decide to plead guilty to a charge of Bigamy, it is essential that you get advice from a lawyer. Our lawyers are experienced in appearing in plea hearings and know how to craft carefully considered persuasive legal submissions.

Then we will assist you to prepare for your plea hearing. We will:

  • Obtain character references,
  • take detailed instructions from you about your personal history and the circumstances that lead to the offending, and
  • Direct you to offence specific course.
This will assist you get the best possible outcome.

Which court will the case be heard in?
This is a charge that would be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

Examples of Bigamy
  • A person just moved to Australia from England. In England, the person has a wife from whom he separated 3 years ago, but did not divorce. The person gets married in Australia without getting divorced from his first wife.
  • A person separated from her previous husband 4 years ago. She marries someone without first getting divorced from her first husband.
We had a client who was married in India and not properly divorced. He pleaded guilty and was given a fine as penalty
What is the legal definition of Bigamy?
The legal definition of Bigamy is when a person who is legally married gets married to another person.

Legislation
The section that covers this offence is section 64 of the Crimes Act 1958.

Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt for an accused to be found guilty of Bigamy:

Element 1: The accused was married to A; and
The prosecution must prove that the accused was married to person A.

Element 2: The accused went through the form or ceremony of marriage with any other person (B) during the life of A.
The prosecution must also prove that the accused went through a marriage with another person B during A’s lifetime.

“Was the previous marriage lawful?”
This element will not be satisfied if person A has been continually absent from the accused for seven years and the accused does not know person A to be living during that time, if the accused and person A have divorced or if the accused and person A’s marriage as been declared void by sentence of any court of competent jurisdiction.

Defences
  • The previous husband or wife has passed away.
  • The first marriage was not legally binding.
Questions that are asked in cases like this:
  • How can they prove there was a legally binding previous marriage?
Maximum penalty for section 64 of the Crimes Act 1958
The maximum penalty for Bigamy (s64 of the Crimes Act 1958) is 5 years imprisonment.

What can you be sentenced to for Bigamy?
Only the most serious Bigamy offences will mean a period of gaol.

Now that property rights do not depend so much simply on being married the Courts do not usually put people in gaol for bigamy.

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