Under Michigan law, a person is required to be at least 16 years old to be able to engage in consensual sex. Additionally, if someone is above the age of 18, they are not legally allowed to have sex with individuals under the age of 18. An adult who engages in sexual activity with a minor may face statutory rape charges.
Exceptions To The Age Of Consent
In Michigan, only individuals over the age of 16 can consent to sexual activity, and there are several exceptions that may negate someone’s consent if they are above the age of consent, including but not limited to:
- Consent under the influence: if someone is under the influence when they consent, the consent cannot be considered valid. As a result, if someone has sex with someone while that person is extremely intoxicated, they can be accused of rape.
- Fiduciary relationship: if someone has a position of authority over the person giving consent to someone, the consent can be considered invalid. Relationships of authority may include a teacher and student relationship or an employer and employee relationship, for example.
- Force or Coercion: if someone threatens or coerces someone into a sexual interaction, the perpetrator may be guilty of rape.
In other states, it may be legal for two people who are underage to engage in consenting sexual activity so long as they are a similar age. However, that is not legal in Michigan because the age of consent is absolute at 16.
Romeo And Juliet Laws
Romeo and Juliet laws keep individuals from having to be registered as sex offenders in Michigan. The purpose of Romeo and Juliet laws is to allow individuals who are relatively close in age to participate in sexual activity without being charged with statutory rape. To avoid being registered as a sex offender, they will need to meet the following requirements:
- The sexual conduct was with someone who was not more than four years younger than the alleged offender; and
- The alleged victim was at least 13 years of age but less than 16 years of age.
When an adult has sex with someone under 16, it is considered statutory rape, also called Criminal Sexual Conduct.
Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a misdemeanor that may be treated like a felony. A fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge may result from a fiduciary relationship, sexual activity with a minor between 13 and 15 years old, or sexual conduct with someone who is mentally or physically disabled.
A fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction can result in up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $500, and sex offender registration. Additionally, individuals who have a professional license may have their license revoked or suspended.
Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is a felony that may occur when there is sexual penetration, and someone is forced or coerced into the sexual activity. A third-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction may result in up to 15 years in prison, fines, and sex offender registration.
Second-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
Criminal sexual conduct in the second degree is similar to criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree. It results from sexually touching someone under 13, someone suffering from incapacitation, a weapon that forced or coerced the victim, or someone abetting one of the other acts.
Anyone convicted of a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration. In some cases, rather than receiving a prison sentence, the defendant may be subject to electronic monitoring, such as an ankle monitor worn by people under house arrest.
First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
First-degree criminal sexual conduct is one of the most serious charges someone can receive for sexual conduct in Michigan and can carry a 25-year sentence. Generally, sentences resulting from first-degree criminal sexual conduct convictions will be served consecutively. After serving the prison term, the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender.
Frequently Asked Questions About Statutory Rape
Can I Be Guilty Of Statutory Rape If The Minor Lied About Their Age?
Yes, you can be guilty of statutory rape if a victim lied about their age because, under Michigan law, statutory rape is a strict liability crime. This means that if someone says they are 18 and they are 15, you can be charged with statutory rape. However, the lie does mean that the charge may be reduced or a prosecutor to resolve the case on favorable terms because prosecutors have the discretion to determine where to move forward on cases.
Will I Have To Register As A Sex Offender For Statutory Rape?
Sex offenders do not always have to register on a sex offender registry if they are convicted of statutory rape. Under Michigan law, a defendant may not have to register as a sex offender if the convicted individual and the minor were less than four years apart and the sexual activity was consensual. For example, if someone is 16 years old and they have sex with their 15-year-old partner, they likely will not have to be registered as a sex offender even though the 15-year-old could not consent.
Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney In Michigan
If you or someone you know has been accused of criminal sexual conduct or statutory rape, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure their rights are best protected from the start. A knowledgeable attorney can review the facts of the case and determine the best defense strategy moving forward. We have ample knowledge of all criminal cases at the George Law Firm. To contact one of our experienced attorneys, contact us today at (248) 247-7459 or online.