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What Is The Age Of Consent In Michigan?

| Jan 1, 2021 | Sex Offenses |

 

A person is considered a minor under reaching 18 years old in the United States.  However, the age of consent to participate in sexual activity in Michigan is 16 years old.  The law presumes that an individual under age 16 is incapable of consenting to sexual conduct, so another person who does so with that individual can be found guilty of “statutory rape” and can be incarcerated in jail or state prison.

The following criminal statutes apply to statutory rape:

 

CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE FIRST DEGREE

A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person and any of the following circumstances exist –

  • That other person is under 13 years of age. MCL 750.520b(1)(a).
  • That other person is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and the perpetrator is a member of the same household as the victim, or is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the fourth degree. or is in a position of authority over the victim and used this authority to coerce the victim to submit, or the perpetrator is an employee of the school or child-care facility that the victim is enrolled. MCL 750.520b(1)(b).

The penalty for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is a felony conviction punishable as follows:

  • Imprisonment for life or for any term of years. MCL 750.520b(2)(a).  If the victim was under 13 years old, then the minimum prison term cannot be less than 25 years.  MCL 750.520b(2)(b).  If the victim is under 13 years, the offender was at least 18 years old, and the offender has a previous conviction for criminal sexual conduct against a victim under 13 years of age, then the punishment is life in prison without the possibility of parole.  MCL 750.520b(3)(c).
  • The defendant will have to register as a Tier III Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry unless the victim was at least 13 years old but not yet 16 years old and is not more than 4 years younger than the victim.
  • In additional to any criminal penalties, the defendant shall also be sentenced to lifetime electronic monitoring. MCL 750.520b(3)(d).

 

CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE SECOND DEGREE

A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree if he or she engages in non-penetrative sexual contact with another person and any of the following circumstances exist –

  • That other person is under 13 years of age. MCL 750.520c(1)(a).
  • That other person is at least 13 but less than 16 years of age and the perpetrator is a member of the same household as the victim, or is related to the victim by blood or affinity to the fourth degree. or is in a position of authority over the victim and used this authority to coerce the victim to submit, or the perpetrator is an employee of the school or child-care facility that the victim is enrolled. MCL 750.520c(1)(b).

The penalty for criminal sexual conduct in the second degree is a felony conviction punishable as follows:

  • Imprisonment for up to 15 years. MCL 750.520c(2)(a).
  • If the victim was under 13 years old, the defendant will have to register as a Tier III Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry.
  • If the victim was at least 13 years old, the defendant will have to register as a Tier II Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry.
  • In additional to any criminal penalties, the defendant shall also be sentenced to lifetime electronic monitoring. MCL 750.520c(2)(b).

 

CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE THIRD DEGREE – A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person that is at least 13 years old but less than 16 years old.  MCL 750.520d(1)(a).  The penalty for criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is a felony conviction punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.  MCL 750.520d(2).  In addition, the defendant will have to register as a Tier III Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry unless the victim was at least 13 years old but not yet 16 years old and is not more than 4 years younger than the victim.

 

CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE FOURTH DEGREE – A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree if he or she engages in non-penetrative sexual contact with another person that is at least 13 years old but less than 16 years old AND the perpetrator is 5 or more years older than the other person.  MCL 750.520e(1)(a).  This five-year safe harbor is also known as the “Romeo and Juliet” exception.  For example, if the person was 17 years old and the other person was 15 years old, the statute does not apply since the parties are within 5 years of age (unless there was also force, coercion, relation within the third degree or some other incapacity).  The penalty for criminal sexual conduct in the third degree is a felony conviction punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.  MCL 750.520d(2).  In addition, the individual will have to register as a Tier II Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry if the victim was at least 13 years old but not yet 18 years old.  However, the individual will have to register as a Tier III Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry if the victim was under 13 years old and the offender was 17 years or older.

 

ACCOSTING, ENTICING OR SOLICITING CHILD FOR IMMORAL PURPOSE – A person is guilty of a felony if he or she accosts, entices, or solicits a child less than 16 years of age, regardless of whether the person knows the individual is a child or knows the actual age of the child, with the intent to induce or force that individual or child to commit an immoral act, to submit to sexual intercourse or an act of gross indecency, or to any other act of depravity or delinquency.  The penalty is up to 4 years in state prison or a fine up to $4,000.00, or both.  MCL 750.145a.  In addition, the individual will have to register as a Tier II Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry.

 

Although the age of consent in Michigan for sexual acts is 16 years old, there are specific statutes that punish conduct with minors that are at least 16 years old but not yet 18 years old.

  • PROSTITUTION: “A person who engages or offers to engage the services of another person, who is less than 18 years of age and who is not his or her spouse, for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation, by the payment in money or other forms of consideration”, is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine up to $10,000.00 or up to 5 years in prison, or both. MCL 750.449a(2).  In addition, the individual will have to register as a Tier II Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry.
  • HUMAN TRAFFICKING: A person shall not recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain by any means a minor for commercial sexual activity or forced labor or services. MCL 750.462e.  A violation of this law with any individual under 18 years old is a felony conviction punishable by a fine up to $20,000.00 or up to 20 years in prison, or both.  MCL 750.462f(c).  In addition, the individual will have to register as a Tier II Offender on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry.
  • SELLING TRAVEL SERVICES FOR PROSTITUTION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING: A person shall not knowingly sell or offer to sell travel services that include or facilitate travel for the purpose of prostitution or human trafficking.  MCL 750.459(2).  A violation of this law concerning any individual under 18 years old is a felony conviction punishable by a fine up to $15,000.00 or up to 10 years in prison, or both.  MCL 750.459(3).

 

It is not a defense in Michigan that the perpetrator was mistaken or mislead about the victim’s age.  In People v Cash, 419 Mich 230; 351 NW2d 822 (1984), the defendant was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with an individual just one month shy of her sixteenth birthday.  The defendant requested that the jury be instructed that a reasonable mistake as to the victim’s age is a defense (due to her more mature appearance) and that the charges be dismissed on the grounds that the victim told him that she was 17 years old.  The request was denied, the defendant was convicted, and the Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.  The Michigan Supreme Court also affirmed the convictions and determined that there was no reasonable mistake-of-age defense available in Michigan.  One reason was that the Michigan Legislature was careful to draft their criminal sexual conduct laws to punish conduct based on specific ages and relationships, so statutory rape was intended to be preserved.  Another reason was that statutory rape trials are already highly emotional, so allowing a mistake-of-age defense only causes additional undue focus on the victim by the jury evaluating her appearance and other signs of maturity.  As a result, any defense as to mistake or lies about the victim’s age is rejected.

The accused will be held to strict liability regarding the actual age of the victim no matter what other circumstances led to it.  Statutory rape allegations are very serious and you cannot settle for anything less than the most skilled criminal defense lawyer in your corner.  A attorney can ensure that the prosecutor is held to the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, negotiate a favorable plea resolution, file motions challenging the evidence in the case, or asserting all legal defenses at trial.  You only get one opportunity to properly defend against these serious charges because the outcome can change your life forever.  Don’t leave your fate to chance or to a lawyer that doesn’t understand the law.

If you or a loved one are accused of any crime and need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

 

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