Tag Archives: bigamy

Bill Makes Bigamy More Costly

The maximum fine for committing bigamy would be doubled – from $2,500 to $5,000 – under legislation approved by the Senate and awaiting a House committee vote.
As originally filed by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, the legislation (SB542) would have elevated bigamy from a misdemeanor to a felony. That provision was dropped after legislative staff estimated that there are 18 convictions of bigamy per year in Tennessee and that the cost to the state for incarcerating them as felons would total more than $368,000 per year.
The bill also changes current law to allow prosecution for bigamy for a longer period after a person already married maries again. Under the current “statute of limitations,” a bigamist can be prosecuted for two years after the second marriage takes place.
In some cases, Bell said, the spouse of a bigamist does not discover the previous marriage, with no divorce, until “several years later.” With the change of law, he said, bigamy is treated as “a continuing offense” so the statute of limitations does not begin until the prior marriage is discovered “so even if it’s discovered later, it can be prosecuted.”