Friday, November 25, 2011

Non-Monogamous Families and the Law, Part 25: Summary of Mississippi Laws

Author's Note:

Ok, the child-outside-of-marriage law was a surprise... I thought by now I had covered most of the obscure laws that could crop up, but that one caught me off-guard. Opens up some interesting new directions on this research, depending on how wide-spread that kind of law is.

- Jason

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Non-Monogamous Families and the Law, Part 25: Summary of Mississippi Laws

Adultery:

Mississippi’s adultery law applies to both parties, possesses both internal and external liability, and extends to fornication outside of marriage (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011f), extending liability even to those non-monogamists who are not legally married. Adultery charges can only be brought with “habitual sexual intercourse” and not as a 1-time event (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011f). The punishment is up to 6 months imprisonment and up to $500 in a fine (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011f). Escalating punishment for repeat offence doesn’t apply as adultery isn’t a felony offence (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011a; Mississippi State Legislature, 2011j). Inchoate offences apply with conspiracy and with attempt, with attempt having the same level of liability as adultery, and conspiracy with an ambiguous punishment that is assumed to be comparable (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011b; Mississippi State Legislature, 2011e).

Bigamy:

Bigamy in Mississippi doesn’t include a cohabitation or purportation clause, limiting liability for non-dyadic non-monogamies (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011h). Liability extends to both marryer and marryee, with punishment being imprisonment for up to 10 years (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011h). Because bigamy is a felony in Mississippi (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011a), escalating punishment for repeat offence is applicable, however it simply maximizes the term to be an absolute 10 years, instead of being up to (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011j).

Inchoate attempt applies the same as with with adultery, being at the same 10 year level (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011e). Conspiracy is liable for up to 5 years imprisonment and up to $5,000 fine (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011b). Additionally, because bigamy is a felony, accessory before/after the fact is applicable, with accessory before the fact being liable at the same 10 year level, and after the fact being liable for up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine up to $1,000 (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011c; Mississippi State Legislature, 2011d).

There is also a law against teaching of polygamy (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011i). Though polygamy is specifically named, this could be expanded to cover other forms of non-monogamy, especially non-dyadic non-monogamies. Punishment for teaching polygamy is imprisonment for 1-6 months and/or a fine of $25-$500 (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011i).

Lastly, there is a law against having children outside of marriage (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011g). The first offence of such is imprisonment for 30-90 days, and a fine of up to $250. Subsequent offences are liable for 3-6 months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500 (Mississippi State Legislature, 2011g).

Round-Up of Laws:

Beyond the expected liability of having both adultery and bigamy laws, the law against teaching polygamy could be applied more broadly to affect those conversations about other forms of non-monogamy, extending liability through whole communities.

Also, the law against having children outside of marriage can have drastic impacts on non-dyadic non-monogamous families that choose to have children, providing extra liability depending on who the birth parents are.

Because of the need for habitual sexual intercourse, certain forms of dyadic non-monogamy are less liable under this law. For example, swingers and/or open relationships that do not have regular external partners.

Non-Monogamous Strategies:

Unfortunately the liability from both adultery and bigamy is largely unavoidable, beyond exploiting adultery’s requirement or habitual sex. This would demand that only dyadic non-monogamists without regular external partners could avoid this. This, however, is not feasible for a large bulk of non-monogamists. Because of the fornication built into the adultery law, lacking a legal marriage is not a method of avoiding the adultery law either.

Also, the types of conversations and discussions that are common-place in non-monogamous relationships are likely liable under the anti-teaching law, means there’s an excess of liability for non-monogamists.

The one law that can be worked around is the child-outside-of-marriage law, which only affects non-monogamous families looking to have children. In these cases, having a legal marriage between the two biological parents of the child allows liability under this law to be avoided.

References

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011a). Felony. (Mississippi Code of 1972 1-3-11). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011b). Conspiracy. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-1-1). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011c). Accessories before the fact. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-1-3). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011d). Accessories after the fact. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-1-5). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011e). Attempt to commit offence; punishment. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-1-7). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011f). Adultery and fornication; unlawful cohabitation. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-29-1). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011g). Illegitimate children; person becoming a natural parent of second illegitimate child; jurisdiction. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-29-11). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011h). Bigamy; definitions; penalty. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-29-13). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011i). Polygamy; teaching of. (Mississippi Code of 1972 97-29-43). Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

Mississippi State Legislature. (2011j). Sentencing of habitual criminals to maximum term of imprisonment. (Mississippi Code of 1972 99-19-81. Jackson, MS: Mississippi State Legislature.

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