Polygamy (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The offense of willfully and knowingly having more than one wife or husband at the same time. The offense of willfully and knowingly entering into a second marriage while validly married to another individual is bigamy.
The law in every state prohibits a man or a woman from being married to more than one living person at a time. The crime of having more than one current spouse is called either bigamy (having two spouses) is a subset of the crime of polygamy (having more than one spouse), and the law makes no practical distinction between the two. Even in states that separately criminalize both polygamy and bigamy, either crime is committed when a married person first enters into an unlawful marriage with a second person. However, additional marriages beyond the second would support prosecution for additional criminal counts and possibly a longer sentence.
Most states base their polygamy laws on the MODEL PENAL CODE section 230.1, which provides that a person is guilty of the third-degree felony of polygamy if he or she marries or cohabits with more than one spouse at a time in purported exercise of the right of plural marriage. The crime is punishable either by a fine, imprisonment, or both, according to the law of the individual state and the circumstances of the offense. The crime of polygamy is deemed to continue...
(The entire section is 1259 words.)
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