by Doogue & O'Brien Criminal Defence Lawyers

The Maximum Penalty for Bigamy in Melbourne – How serious is this charge?

Bigamy convictions may lead to a maximum penalty of 5 years of imprisonment. Depending on whether there are other serious circumstances relevant to the offending, a prison term is actually a very rare penalty. Defendants who are proven guilty of Bigamy only receive the maximum penalty if the Court finds the criminal offending as extreme.


Bigamy is a serious offence although it used to be a considered practice in many societies. With the developments in culture especially where women and property rights are concerned, Bigamy became a prohibited practice in Victoria and eventually a criminal charge. Cases of Bigamy are usually handled by the Magistrates’ Court but more serious cases are also heard in the County Court.


The legislation on Bigamy

Section 64 of the Crimes Act 1958 contains the exact legislation for the charge of Bigamy:




Whosoever being married goes through the form or ceremony of marriage with another person during the life of her or his husband or wife, shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and shall be liable to level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum). Nothing in this section contained shall extend to any person going through the form or ceremony of marriage as aforesaid whose husband or wife has been continually absent from such person for the space of seven years then last past and has not been known by such person to be living within that time; or shall extend to any person who at the time of her or his going through such form or ceremony of marriage has been divorced from the bond of the marriage; or to any person whose marriage at such time has been declared void by the sentence of any court of competent jurisdiction.


(11) Attempts to procure abortion


Pleading guilty or not guilty to Bigamy in a Melbourne Court

Should you plead guilty or not guilty to a Bigamy charge? The answer to this question depends on the specific circumstances of your case which can best be analysed by a criminal defence solicitor. Get legal advice only from qualified experts. Always choose those who can deliver the best possible results for a criminal case.


Elements of the charge of Bigamy in a Melbourne Court

There are various elements of a Bigamy charge that must clearly be proven by the Prosecution in Court. First, the defendant should have gone through a form or ceremony of marriage with another person. But prior to this, it is necessary that the defendant had entered into a valid marriage with a different person who is alive and the marriage was not ended.

Defending the charge of Bigamy in a Melbourne Court

Defences that are often run in relation to a Bigamy charge include factual dispute, honest and reasonable mistake of belief, and lack of intent. Defence lawyers carefully analyse all the details of a case to determine the most viable defence against the offence of Bigamy.


For more information on Bigamy, you may visit the Australian Defence Lawyers Association site (click here) and also the Doogue & O’Brien Melbourne Criminal Lawyers site (here).


Doogue & O’Brien Melbourne can provide you more detail about this

Our Head Office is at 5/221 Queen Street, Melbourne            

Phone (03) 9670 5111 (24 hrs if you are in a Police Station)


This article was written on Aug. 17, 2012 and relates to the law that it stands at this time.


We welcome your feedback

Hi there! We want to make this site as good as it can for you, the user. Please tell us what you would like to do differently and we will do our best to accommodate!

Protected by FormShield

We've updated our Privacy Statement, before you continue. please read our new Privacy Statement and familiarise yourself with the terms.