The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.

1. That the offender has been legally married;
2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;
3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and
4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.

The crime of bigamy does not fall within the category of private crimes. Hence, it can be prosecuted even w/o the initiative of the offended party.

The fact that the 1st marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense in a bigamy charge. There is a need for judicial declaration of the nullity of the 1st marriage. Similarly,
there must also be a summary proceeding to declare the absent spouse presumptively dead for purposes of remarriage.

Failure to exercise due diligence to ascertain the whereabouts of the 1st wife and the husband’s remarriage is bigamy through reckless imprudence.

One convicted for bigamy may be prosecuted for concubinage as both are distinct offenses.

The second spouse is not necessarily liable for bigamy.

One who falsely vouches for the capacity of either of the contracting parties knowing that one of the parties is already married is an accomplice.

A pardon by the offended party does not extinguish criminal action considering that a crime is committed against the State and the crime of Bigamy is a public offense which can be denounced not only by the person affected thereby but even by a civic-spirited citizen who may come to know the same.

Good faith is a defense in bigamy.

A judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage, that is, that the marriage was void ab initio, is now required.

1994 Bar Exam Question on Bigamy

Bar Exam Question (1994)

Bigamy (1994)

Issa and Bobby, who were first cousins, were married in 1975. In 1993, Bobby was told that his marriage to Issa was incestous under the law then in force and therefore void ab initio. He married Caring. Charged with bigamy, Bobby raised the defense that his first marriage is void ab initio and therefore, there is no previous marriage to speak of. Will you sustain Bobby's

Suggested Answer:

No. I will not sustain Bobby's defense, Bobby remarried in 1993, or after the Family Code took effect on August 3, 1988, and therefore his capacity to marry in 1993 shall be governed by said Code. In Art. 40 of the Family Code, it is mandated that the absolute nullity of a previous marriage maybe invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. In short, there is a need of a judicial declaration of such nullity before Bobby may validly remarry (Dorothy Terre vs. Jordan Terre, 211 SCRA 6).

Bar Exam Question (1996)

Bigamy (1996)

Joselito married Ramona in July 1995, only to learn later on that Ramona was previously married to David, from whom Ramona had been separated for more than ten years. Believing that his marriage to Ramona was an absolute nullity, Joselito contracted a subsequent marriage with Anabelle. Can Joselito be prosecuted for bigamy? Explain.

Suggested Answer:

Yes, Joselito can be prosecuted for bigamy for his subsequent marriage with Anabelle even though his marriage with Ramona was an absolute nullity. Despite the nullity of the first marriage, Joselito should have filed a case of dissolution of such marriage under Art. 40, Family Code, before contracting a second marriage with Anabelle.

Bar Exam Question Question (2004)

Bigamy (2004)

CBP is legally married to OEM. Without obtaining a marriage license, CBP contracted a second marriage to RST. Is CBP liable for bigamy? Reason briefly. 

Suggested Answer:

Whether CBP could be held liable for bigamy or not, depends on whether the second marriage is invalid or valid even without a marriage license. Although as a general rule, marriages solemnized without license are null and void ob initio, there are marriages exempted from license requirement under Chapter 2, Title 1 of the Family Code, such as in Article 27 which is a marriage in articulo mortis. If the second marriage was valid even without a marriage license, then CBP would be liable for
bigamy. Otherwise, CBP is not liable for bigamy but for Illegal Marriage in Art. 350 for the Revised Penal Code, specifically designated as "Marriage contracted against provisions of laws."

Bar Exam Question (1995)

Bigamy; Prescriptive Period (1995)

Joe and Marcy were married in Batanes in 1955. After two years, Joe left Marcy and settled in Mindanao where he later met and married Linda on 12 June 1960. The second marriage was registered in the civil registry of Davao City three days after its celebration. On 10 October 1975 Marcy who remained in Batanes discovered the marriage of Joe to Linda. On 1 March 1976 Marcy filed a complaint for bigamy against Joe. The crime of bigamy prescribed in fifteen years computed from the day the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities or their agents. Joe raised the defense of prescription of the crime, more than fifteen years having elapsed from the celebration of the bigamous marriage up to the filing of Marcy's complaint. He contended that the registration of his second marriage in the civil registry of Davao City was constructive notice to the whole world of the celebration thereof thus binding upon Marcy. Has the crime of bigamy charged against Joe already prescribed?
Discuss fully.

Suggested Answer:

No. The prescriptive period for the crime of bigamy is computed from the time the crime was discovered by the offended party, the authorities or their agents. The principle of constructive notice which ordinarily applies to land or property disputes should not be applied to the crime of bigamy, as marriage is not property. Thus when Marcy filed a complaint for bigamy on 7 March 1976, it was well within the reglementary period as it was barely a few months from the time of discovery on 10 October
1975. (Sermonia vs. CA, 233 SCRA 155)