The offence of polygamy is outlined in section 293(1) of the Criminal Code.
A person commits the offence of polygamy when they agree to marry or marry more than one person at the same time, regardless of if this marriage is recognized by law. A person also commits the offence of polygamy when they celebrate, help with, or participate in anything that sanctions a polygamous relationship.
Person A marries person B despite already being married to person C.
Person D agrees to perform a religious ceremony where they marry person E, person F and person G to each other at the same time.
Person H helps person K to set up their home for a spiritual ritual that will recognize person K as being in a committed conjugal relationship with both person J and person L.
R. v Blackmore, 2017 BCSC 1288
In R. v Blackmore, the two accused, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), were convicted of one count of polygamy each. The first accused was married to 24 women at once and the second was married to five women at once, having married these women in religious ceremonies recognized as legitimate within the FLDS community.
Offence Specific Defence(s)
No Knowledge of Third Party
Where a person is not aware that the person they are marrying is already married to someone else, they may not have completed the offence of polygamy.
No Knowledge by Third Party
Where a person celebrating, helping with, or participating in a marriage ceremony is not aware that the marriage is between more than one person at the same time or that one of the parties getting married is already married to someone else, they may not have completed the offence of polygamy.