Code of the District of Columbia

§ 22–501. Bigamy.

(a) Whoever, having a spouse or domestic partner living, marries or enters a domestic partnership with another shall be deemed guilty of bigamy, and on conviction thereof shall suffer imprisonment for not less than 2 nor more than 7 years; provided, that this section shall not apply to any person whose:

(1) Spouse or domestic partner has been continually absent for 5 successive years next before such marriage or domestic partnership without being known to such person to be living within that time;

(2) Marriage to said living spouse shall have been dissolved by a valid decree of a competent court, or shall have been pronounced void by a valid decree of a competent court on the ground of the nullity of the marriage contract; or

(3) Domestic partnership with said living domestic partner has been terminated in accordance with § 32-702(d), or § 16-904(e).

(a-1) In addition to any other penalty provided under this section, a person may be fined an amount not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01.

(b) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(1) “Domestic partner” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3).

(2) “Domestic partnership” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(4).


(Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1331, ch. 854, § 870; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 23(a), 55 DCR 6758; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 303(q), 60 DCR 2064; Apr. 9, 2016, D.C. Law 21-105, § 4(), 63 DCR 217.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 22-601.

1973 Ed., § 22-601.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-231 rewrote the section, which had read as follows: “Whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries another shall be deemed guilty of bigamy, and on conviction thereof shall suffer imprisonment for not less than 2 nor more than 7 years; provided, that this section shall not apply to any person whose husband or wife has been continually absent for 5 successive years next before such marriage without being known to such person to be living within that time, or whose marriage to said living husband or wife shall have been dissolved by a valid decree of a competent court, or shall have been pronounced void by a valid decree of a competent court on the ground of the nullity of the marriage contract.”

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 added (a-1).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 303(q) of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.