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Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitation restrict the time period within which a person can file a lawsuit.  The statute of limitations runs from the time an offense is committed until prosecution is commenced.  In some jurisdictions, for the purpose of statue of limitations, prosecution commences when an indictment is found or an information is filed.  Statutes of limitations vary not only by state, but they also vary by cause of action.

Bigamy is a married person’s act of marrying yet another person.  In common law, a crime of bigamy occurs and is complete when the second marriage is accomplished[i]. For a defendant to be guilty of bigamy, sexual intercourse need not be proved.  It is the conduct of defendant in marrying the second time which constitutes the crime.  The law forbids any abuse of the formal and solemn contract that came into existence with his/her first marriage.

The statute of limitation as regards the offense of bigamy or the time frame in which authorities can commence a prosecution begins at the completion of second marriage.  This means that the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the second marriage.  Where the offence is cohabitation after a bigamous marriage, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the cohabitation ceases.  In State v. Sloan[ii] , the court observed that an indictment for bigamy is not barred by the statute of limitations because of the fact that the second marriage was contracted more than three years prior to the finding of the indictment, when the parties have continued the cohabitation until within that time.  The crime is committed by cohabitation under a bigamous marriage as well as by the marriage itself.

[i] Ex parte Brinkman, 93 W. Va. 351 (W. Va. 1923)

[ii] 55 Iowa 217 (Iowa 1880)

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