Utah is well-known for having some of the most unique laws in the United States. From alcohol regulations to traffic ordinances, the state can appear unusual compared to others in the Union.
One area that particularly is Utah’s bigamy law. The state stands out on how it defines a violation and how it penalizes offenders. In this blog post, we dive into bigamy laws in Utah to demystify this complex system of legalese and provide clear context for future reference.
Historical Background of Bigamy in Utah
Utah has a unique history when it comes to bigamy. The practice was once widely tolerated before the sate made it illegal.
In the early days of Mormonism, polygamous families were a normal part of the religious practice in Utah. At first, bigamous marriages thrived as the practice was largely unregulated, and it was a tradition within Utah's strict Mormon culture.
However, starting in the late 19th century, attitudes changed rapidly as other states began outlawing bigamy. By 1895, Utah officially criminalized polygamy, adding an amendment to the state constitution. Congress officially mandated the change, as it refused to grant Utah statehood unless it banned polygamy.
Today, bigamy is illegal according to both federal law (U.S Code) and state law (Utah Code Ann.), and it is punishable by both prison time and fines if convicted of violating either code.
Utah’s Bigamy Penalties
An individual can face many charges for this offense. The crime can be a misdemeanor or even a felony, depending on the circumstances.
Unofficially practicing polygamy is a misdemeanor. This is where someone has multiple partners they consider to be a wife or husband, and they live as if that’s the case. They did not, however, have official legal marriages for each partner. An individual can be fined up to $750, spend up to six months in jail, and participate in up to 360 hours of community service.
Felony charges apply when someone legally marries more than one person. Fines can go as high as $10,000, and imprisonment can last up to five years.
Prosecutors must consider various circumstances to determine the severity of the offense.
Resources Available to those Charged with Bigamy
Legal advisors can help those charged with bigamy navigate the legal system. In addition, guidance is available to help defendants find help with financial worries they face from the costs of their counsel. Defendants can find mental health services when they feel overwhelmed by their circumstances.
Nelson, Taylor & Associates, PLLC is here to help protect you from all manner of criminal allegations. If you are facing bigamy charges or any other legal woes, contact our team for a free consultation. You can reach us online or call us today at (801) 901-7046.