A confusing case of alleged bigamy will not result in criminal charges against a man accused of being married to two women at once in 2006, a Georgia prosecutor recently announced. The decision angered the woman who married him without knowing he was, in theory, married to three women at once.
The Law Office of Gabriel and Gabriel previously discussed bigamy in our April 29 blog post. In Minnesota as in the vast majority of the U.S., bigamy rarely comes up, though it is illegal. Divorce is not necessary to end a bigamous marriage because it is void under Minnesota law. That means that the state does not recognize it, so it treats the marriage as if it never happened.
The man at the center of the Georgia case has had five real or would-be marriages, according to the district attorney. His first two marriages each ended in divorce. He married a third woman in January 2003. But that woman was still married to another man at the time. Like Minnesota, Georgia law considers bigamous marriages void, so the third marriage was never legal.
While in his putative third marriage, the man married a fourth woman in August 2005. He then married a fifth woman in May 2006. As the district attorney pointed out, the third marriage was not valid, so the fourth marriage was not bigamous. But the fifth one was, at least until he divorced his fourth wife in November 2006. Unfortunately for the fifth wife, the statute of limitations ran out four years after his alleged bigamy stopped – that is, in November 2010. The fifth wife swore out a warrant against her husband in January. Therefore, the county cannot press charges against the man, the district attorney said.
The fifth wife said she was disappointed her husband would not face criminal charges. She said she was told she had to get an annulment to dissolve the marriage, which she planned to do. Her relationship with her husband was apparently abusive. He pleaded guilty to domestic battery and reckless conduct in 2008 and was sentenced to a year in jail.