Stephen Bilkis
Fighting For Your Freedom! 800.696.9529 Request A Free Consultation

NY Penal Law § 255.00: Unlawfully solemnizing a marriage

Under New York law not just anybody can perform a marriage ceremony. You must be licensed to do so. If you perform a marriage ceremony without the proper credentials or if you knowingly perform a marriage ceremony that involves people who cannot lawfully marry, you could be charged with a crime. Under New York Penal Law § 255.00 you could be charged with unlawfully solemnizing a marriage if you:

  1. Solemnize a marriage, knowing that you are not authorized to do so in the State of New York, or
  2. Solemnize a marriage knowing that the union is unlawful.

It is a misdemeanor. New York Domestic Relations Law § 11 specifies who is legally authorized to perform a marriage ceremony. Those authorized include clergymen, mayors, and judges.

Example

Joe, an ordained minister, officiated over a marriage of 21 year old Ryan and 15 year old Paula. If Joe was aware that Paula was only 15 years old, he could be prosecuted for unlawfully solemnizing a marriage. However, if he did not know, then he would have a defense to that charge.

Related Offenses
  1. Unlawfully procuring a marriage license: New York Penal Law § 255.05
Defenses

In order to be convicted of unlawfully solemnizing a marriage based on their being a legal impediment to the marriage, you must have known that the legal impediment existed. If you did not know, then you have a defense to the charge. Similarly, if the charge is based on knowing that you are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in New York State, the prosecutor must prove that you did in fact know.

Sentence

Unlawfully solemnizing a marriage is a class A misdemeanor. You sentence may include:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • 3 years of probation
  • Fine
New York Penal Law § 255.00: Unlawfully solemnizing a marriage

A person is guilty of unlawfully solemnizing a marriage when:

  1. Knowing that he is not authorized by the laws of this state to do so, he performs a marriage ceremony or presumes to solemnize a marriage; or

  2. Being authorized by the laws of this state to perform marriage ceremonies and to solemnize marriages, he performs a marriage ceremony or solemnizes a marriage knowing that a legal impediment to such marriage exists.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Even though unlawful solemnizing a marriage is a misdemeanor and not a felony, if you are convicted you could still end up in jail and you will have a criminal record. In order to ensure that your case has the best outcome possible given the facts of your case, it is important that you have experienced representation. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
My wife and I met under some unconventional circumstances. After I had some legal problems, Mr Bilkis and his firm continually got me out of trouble. I then had his firm represented my wife and he got her out of trouble! We are still married and got our ways straightened away. We both can't thank him enough for saving our lives and our families! J.P.
★★★★★
I contacted Stephen Bilkis' office for an issue regarding a family member and I could not be happier with the results. I have recommended the firm to friends and family, all of whom were also ecstatic with Mr. Bilkis and all members of his staff. P.R.
★★★★★
I was in need of legal assistance for a very sensitive matter for a family member. I contacted the law offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC and was met with staff whose demeanor was supportive, compassionate and professional. The lawyer handling our case had many years of experience and treated us as if we were his own family. Our experience was so good, and we became so close to all of the staff and all of the attorneys who assisted us, that we consider them our extended family and continue to send them our home baked gifts for the holidays. P.A.K.
★★★★★
I hired Stephen Bilkis and Associates to represent me on a legal matter a few months ago and am grateful for their swift action and resolution on my behalf. I was impressed with their professionalism and would recommend them to friends and family in a heartbeat. M.B.
CONTACT US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
800.696.9529