If you have been charged with any crime, you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately. A criminal record can affect your ability to travel, apply for immigration status or find work. A criminal lawyer can help you protect your rights.
Marriage remains one of the most common methods used to arrange and raise families. After the right to marry, was grantedto same sex couples in 2005, most people forgot about the government’s role in regulating family structure. However, there remain a number of crimes related to marriage contained within the Criminal Code:
Procuring a Feigned Marriage
Per section 292 of the Criminal Code it is a crime to procure a feigned marriage. Per section 294 it is a crime to perform such a marriage. For example if there were a couple where only one party spoke English and the English speaking partner intentionally arranged a fake wedding, in order to try and avoid family law obligations (i.e.: property division upon divorce) the English speaking spouse would be committing a crime. Both of these are indictable offences punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment.
Bigamy is a crime whereby you either: intentionally marry two persons at the same time, being married already enter into another marriage, marry another person knowing they are already married or as a citizen leaving the country with the intent to commit bigamy and marry another person regardless of the laws on multiple marriage in the foreign country. You are protected from a bigamy charge if you on good faith believed your spouse was dead, if your spouse was absent for 7 years and you did not know they were alive or your first marriage was declared void or a divorce was completed. Bigamy is an indictable offence punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.
Polygamy is similar to bigamy, in that it is a crime to practise or enter into more than one marriage. Polygamy is more broad than bigamy in that it also encompasses being in a “conjugal union” with more than one person regardless of if the marriage was legally binding. So polygamy is a crime regardless of if you attempted to enter into a legal marriage, whereas Bigamy is the crime of attempting to enter into 2 legal marriages. It is also a crime to solemnize a polygamous union. Polygamy is an indictable offence punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.
It is a crime to force another person to marry, this is a relatively new offence, coming into force in 2015 pursuant to the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, which amended the Criminal Code adding s. 293.1, outlawing forced marriages. This is an indictable offence punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.
Marriage Under Age 16
Also contained in the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, it is now a crime per s. 293.2 of the Criminal Code to celebrate or participate in a marriage right ceremony where one of the spouses is under 16 years of age. This is an indictable offence punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.
While social attitudes have been slowly changing to accept changing definitions of family there are still a number of marriage related crimes in the Criminal Code. While some of those crimes are intended to protect vulnerable persons, others place restrictions on consenting adults. If you have been charged with any crime you should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Mehdi Au LLP has criminal lawyers on staff to work on your case. We accept Legal Aid Certificates,
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