Bigamy, incest, and other "marriage crimes" in California

Posted by Neil Shouse | Dec 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

When people think of "criminal activity," weddings rarely come to mind.

But in fact, there are several California crimes that you can commit by getting married. These include:

Bigamy. You commit Penal Code 281 PC bigamy when you marry someone while you are still married to someone else.

Despite the recent popular interest in polygamy, reflected in TV shows like "Sister Wives" and "My Five Wives," bigamy is still very much a crime in California--and a serious one at that.

Marrying the husband or wife of another. You commit the crime of Penal Code 284 PC "marrying the husband or wife of another" when you marry someone who is already married to someone else. In other words, this law makes it a crime to be the "other man" or "other woman" in a bigamous marriage.

Incest. Most people think of sexual abuse or pedophilia situations when they hear the term "incest." But in fact California's incest law, Penal Code 285 PC, also makes it a crime for two consenting adults to get married, if they are too closely related to each other.

And the family relationships covered by California's incest law include not only the obvious ones like parent-child and brother-sister--but less obvious ones like half-siblings, uncle-niece, and aunt-nephew as well.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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