Pursuant to the provisions of the New York Penal Code, it is illegal to have more than one spouse. Technically, New York law also makes it illegal to have sexual intercourse with another person while married who is not your spouse. Arising from these prohibitions is the unlawfully procuring a marriage license statute.
Elements of Unlawfully Procuring a Marriage License
The elements of unlawfully procuring a marriage license are basic. There exist two components to the law. First, a person must be lawfully married in order to be charged under this law. Second, a person must submit an application for a marriage license. When both of these elements exist, a person can be charged with unlawfully procuring a marriage license
Example of Unlawfully Procuring a Marriage License
An example of unlawfully procuring a marriage license involves Thomas. Thomas is married to Peggy, however they are in the midst of divorce proceedings.
Sometime after the divorce proceedings commenced, Thomas started dating William, after same sex marriage became lawful across the United States. Thomas and William became engaged, while Thomas’ divorce proceedings involving Peggy were ongoing.
Thomas took an additional step after becoming engaged to William by applying and obtaining a marriage license. Obtaining a marriage license under these circumstances violated the provisions of the unlawfully procuring a marriage license law.
Sentence for Unlawfully Procuring a Marriage License
Unlawfully procuring a marriage license is classified as the most serious type of misdemeanor under New York Law, a class A misdemeanor. As a consequence, if a person is convicted of unlawfully procuring a marriage license, he or she faces a jail term of up to one year. In the alternative, a person could be sentenced to a three-year term of probation. A fine can also be imposed upon conviction for unlawfully procuring a marriage license.
Defenses to Unlawfully Procuring a Marriage License
Available defenses to unlawfully procuring a marriage license are highly limited. If a person is lawfully married and obtains a marriage license, mounting a defense to the case is challenging. An NYC criminal lawyer can assist in attempting to mount a defense, even though doing so in regard to this law will be challenging.
One defense is that the person who obtained a marriage license and was charged with this crime was not legally married at the time. For example, if a person entered into a previous marriage at a point in time when she was not old enough to marry, the initial marriage would not in fact be lawful. Legally speaking, because she was not old enough to marry the first time, that marriage technically does not lawfully exist. Thus, if the person ended up producing a second marriage license, the invalidity of the first marriage would be a defense to unlawfully procuring a marriage license.
A New York criminal defense lawyer will be able to provide skilled legal representation when a person is charged with unlawfully procuring a marriage license. This may include negotiating a settlement of the case that permits a person to avoid jail or even an extended period on probation. In this type of case, a settled resolution that avoids some of the most severe consequences can be the best course to take.
A criminal defense attorney will schedule what is known as an initial consultation to provide an evaluation of a unlawfully procuring a marriage license case. Legal counsel will also provide answers to any questions a person may have in regard to a unlawfully procuring a marriage license charge. In New York, a criminal defense attorney typically charges no attorney fee for an initial consultation.