Petitioner was charged with the crime of bigamy before the RTC. Petitioner thereafter filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings alleging that: (1) there is a pending civil case for declaration of nullity of the second marriage before the RTC of Antipolo City filed by Karla Y. Medina-Capili; (2) in the event that the marriage is declared null and void, it would exculpate him from the charge of bigamy; and (3) the pendency of the civil case for the declaration of nullity of the second marriage serves as a prejudicial question in the instant criminal case.
Whether or not the subsequent declaration of nullity of the second marriage is a ground for dismissal of the criminal case for bigamy.
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code defines and penalizes the crime of bigamy as follows:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
Art. 349. Bigamy. – The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
The elements of the crime of bigamy, therefore, are: (1) the offender has been legally married; (2) the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.9
In the present case, it appears that all the elements of the crime of bigamy were present when the Information was filed on June 28, 2004.
It is undisputed that a second marriage between petitioner and private respondent was contracted on December 8, 1999 during the subsistence of a valid first marriage between petitioner and Karla Y. Medina-Capili contracted on September 3, 1999. Notably, the RTC of Antipolo City itself declared the bigamous nature of the second marriage between petitioner and private respondent. Thus, the subsequent judicial declaration of the second marriage for being bigamous in nature does not bar the prosecution of petitioner for the crime of bigamy.
Jurisprudence is replete with cases holding that the accused may still be charged with the crime of bigamy, even if there is a subsequent declaration of the nullity of the second marriage, so long as the first marriage was still subsisting when the second marriage was celebrated.