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California Bigamy Law & Defense

California Penal Code Section 281

California law forbids a single person from marrying the spouse of another person if the single person knows that the spouse is already married. The same law forbids a spouse from marrying a another person while the spouse is still knowingly married  to his or her own spouse.

Note: Both the spouse and the person marrying the spouse of another are both guilty of bigamy type crimes.

Note: Knowledge of the status of a married person as being such is a requirement to prove bigamy. Commonly, people attempt to procure a divorce but never finalize the legal paperwork for one reason or another. Thereafter, the same person marries again without realizing that the divorce from their first marriage was never finalized (due to a lack of formality). In this typical scenario the defendant may have a good faith belief (and defense) that their prior divorce had been finalized before they married another person.

The laws on bigamy are found at California penal code section 281. Bigamy may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California.

Whether or not the district attorney charges felony bigamy as opposed to a misdemeanor bigamy is decided on a case by case basis but the most important factors include the level of deceit involved and the criminal history of the parties.

If found guilty of felony bigamy under PC 281 the defendant could face up to 3 years in prison. If found guilty of misdemeanor bigamy under PC 281 the defendant could face up to 1 year in county jail.

In some cases it may be possible to have the court dismiss the bigamy charges altogether. In other cases it may be possible to have the bigamy charges reduced to lesser charges or to lower the sentence associated with bigamy.

If you or a loved one has been charged with bigamy under California PC 281 contact criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado without delay. Attorney Dorado has experience is both family law and criminal defense and he has experience with defending against bigamy criminal charges (a rather uncommon charge).

Attorney Dorado will patiently explain your rights and options, as well as the law, associated with bigamy and PC 281. There is no fee for initial in-office consultations with a criminal defense attorney.

Call today! 909.913.3138

Crimes Related to PC 281 Bigamy, Include:

  • PC 284 Marry spouse of another
  • PC 285 Incest 

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Bigamy Crimes: PC 281

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California Bigamy Crimes: PC 281

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California Bigamy Laws & Defense PC 281


Law Office of Christopher Dorado 1030 Nevada Street. Suite 105 Redlands, CA. 92374