Lesson: A bigamous marriage need no judicial decree of nullity.
Arturo Mendoza was sentenced by the CFI guilty of bigamy and sentencing him 6 months and 1 day to 6 years of imprisonment.
The facts are undisputed:
- On August 5, 1936, the Arturo married Jovita de Asis.
- On May 14, 1941 (or after around 4.8 years), Arturo married Olga Lema under the subsistence of the first marriage (~5 years) (This is void/bigamous)
- On February 2, 1943, Jovita (first wife) died.
- On August 19, 1949, the appellant married Carmencita Panlilio and gave rise to the prosecution for and conviction of the crime of bigamy.
Arthuro’s defense: His marriage to Olga Lema was void because of subsistence to his first marriage to Jovita. Therefore, his marriage to Carmencita is legal.
Solicitor’s argument: Arturo is not exempt from criminal liability because when he married Olga, he did not secure a previous judicial annulment of the bigamous marriage with Olga.
Issues and Ruling
Is a judicial decree necessary to invalidate the subsequent marriage?
No. Judicial decree is NOT necessary to invalidate Arturo’s marriage with Olga (void/bigamous/second marriage). The second marriage was not founded on the belief that the first marriage/Jovita was absent or presumed dead, therefore it was not under voidable marriage, and no judicial decree is necessary.
Can a person who obtained a marriage after a void marriage be prosecuted for bigamy?
No. Arturo cannot be prosecuted of bigamy on his third marriage with Carmencita since the second marriage was void, and his first wife (Jovita) already died prior to third marriage.
Note: Arturo’s appealed conviction here only pertains to his alleged bigamy with Carmencita, not with Olga (2nd marriage). If he was prosecuted for committing bigamy with Olga, the case could have prospered because it was indeed bigamous.