Sometimes people do reckless things without expecting their actions to cause any harm. Making an impulsive decision to get married before your divorce is final qualifies as a reckless action. If someone reported this action to law enforcement, you may have found yourself charged with bigamy. What should you do now?
Intentional vs. Accidental Bigamy
Cases of accidental bigamy happen for various reasons. For instance, one spouse may believe the other one had filed the divorce paperwork, but he or she actually never did.
The main problem with your situation is that you knew your divorce wasn't final. In short, you intended to commit a crime, even if what you were doing didn't seem serious at the time.
Laws on bigamy vary a great deal by state. A criminal defense attorney can tell you about relevant regulations in your jurisdiction. Some states classify intentional bigamy as a misdemeanor and some as a felony; some allow judges to make this decision at their discretion.
Even in states where bigamy is a misdemeanor, penalties may include prison time, so it's essential to have skilled legal representation. There also may be steep fines assessed.
Your new spouse is at risk of having penalties assessed if he or she knew your divorce wasn't final.
Contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance. Explain your circumstances and don't leave out any information, even if you feel embarrassed. This attorney can help you avoid the worst consequences and may be able to have the charges dropped altogether. The district attorney probably does not want to waste valuable time and resources prosecuting this type of case.
Having the second marriage annulled will be advantageous for convincing the district attorney to drop charges. It shows that you've admitted your mistake and you want to resolve the situation.
Annulment is most commonly thought of in regard to a religious church court declaring a marriage never existed. However, it does not need to have any religious connotation. All annulments must be filed in civil court to legally end a marriage.
You can't get a divorce because, paradoxically, the second marriage does not exist in a legal sense—even though you can be prosecuted for being married to two people.
When this messy situation is finally cleared up, you can decide if you still want to tie the knot—this time not so impulsively. You can do so once your first marriage really and truly has legally ended.