‘Sister Wives’: Would the Brown Family Really Be Arrested if They Returned to Utah?

The newest season of Sister Wives has started with plenty of drama. In the season premiere, the Brown family grappled with the idea of polygamy. In the second episode, they discussed potentially being arrested simply for entering the state of Utah. There is plenty more to come, but Brown family followers are curious; could Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown, and Robyn Brown, really be arrested just for stepping foot in Utah? The answer is a resounding no.

The Brown family traveled to Utah to spend time with another plural family

In the most recent Sister Wives episode, the Brown family packed into the family minivan and headed back to their home state. In 2010, when fans met Kody and his wives, they resided in Lehigh, Utah. By the end of the first season, the family was settled into Las Vegas, Nevada, because they feared being prosecuted for their plural lifestyle.

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Since then, they have rarely trekked back to the state as a group. Meri visits Utah often because her bed & breakfast, the Lizzie Heritage Inn, is located there. Christine travels back as well to see her children who live in the area. Still, it was the first time the entire family traveled back in a single car. This time, their visit was to spend time with another polygamist family, the Dargers. The Dargers are reportedly inspired HBO’s hit series, Big Love.  

Could the Brown family really be arrested for practicing polygamy?

When the most recent episode of Sister Wives aired, the Brown family could have potentially faced charges. At the time of filming, polygamy was still a felony in Utah. Since the production crew filmed the episode, the state of Utah has decriminalized polygamy. Would Kody have been arrested for entering the state of Utah, even when polygamy was a felony? It wouldn’t have been likely.

Robyn Brown, Meri Brown, Kody Brown, Christine Brown and Janelle Brown from "Sister Wives" arrive at the grand opening of Mike Tyson's one-man show in Las Vegas
Robyn Brown, Meri Brown, Kody Brown, Christine Brown and Janelle Brown of ‘Sister Wives’ | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For several years, the Utah government has been reluctant to pursue polygamy charges unless other serious crimes had occurred. After all, Utah still has the highest number of polygamists in the United States. Since Kody and his wives were passing through and were not committing other crimes, it is incredibly unlikely that Kody would have been charged with anything. 

While discussion of a potential felony charge led to much drama during the episode, it’s important to note that Kody and his wives’ lifestyle isn’t legal in any state, including the state of Arizona where they currently reside. Polygamy is a felony at the federal level, but states are left to decide how to best deal with it in most cases. According to CNN, Utah voted to decriminalize polygamy in May 2020, reducing the charge from a third-degree felony punishable by five years in prison to an infraction, punishable by a fine.  

Christina Brown has shown interest in returning to Utah

While Kody doesn’t seem particularly interested in moving back to Utah for good, one of his wives is interested in the idea. His third wife, Christine, has made it clear that she would like to return to Utah, now that most of her children are out of the house and have relocated to the general, Utah area.

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Christine and Kody’s daughter, Mykelti Padron, currently lives in Utah with her husband, Tony Padron. Aspyn Brown also relocated to the area following her graduation from UNLV, and Paedon Brown lives in Utah, too. Christine’s three youngest children, Gwendlyn, Ysabel, and Truely Brown, still live at home. Mykelti’s current pregnancy might make Christine even keener on moving. Mykelti’s daughter will be Christine’s first grandchild but Kody’s third.