Can a Minor Be Charged with Molestation?
Contrary to popular belief, adults are not the sole perpetrators of sexual assault. Almost a third of child sexual abuse perpetrators are people younger than 18. It may seem unlikely that the police would arrest minors for child molestation, but juveniles can face sexual abuse charges under the criminal justice system.
Therefore, you should seek the assistance of a sexual assault defense lawyer if your child has been accused of child sexual abuse. It would take the burden off your shoulders if you allowed a skilled sex crimes lawyer to guide you in handling a criminal case involving child victims.
At Blank Law, PC, we fight for those accused of child sexual assault, engaging in unlawful sex acts with a minor, or child pornography. Once you establish an attorney-client relationship with our law firm, we can advise you about the best legal options available.
We will also work with you to build aggressive sexual assault defense strategies should criminal proceedings at the juvenile court be initiated against your child. Reach out to us for a free consultation today.
Can a Minor Be Charged with Molestation?
The age of consent under Michigan criminal law is 16. Therefore, anyone below 16 years of age is deemed incapable of consenting to sexual activities. Adolescents who are 16 or older can legally consent to a sexual act with other people who are above 16. Still, the law imposes restrictions on these sexual encounters.
Anyone who engages in sexual penetration (whether oral, vaginal, anal, or digital) with a minor below the legal age of consent will be charged with statutory rape in Michigan. Statutory rape is a form of criminal sexual conduct and attracts harsh legal penalties. Those convicted often face a lengthy prison sentence and mandatory sex offender registration.
Section 722.1 of the Michigan Penal Code states that a minor is someone below the age of 18. Therefore, a person who is 16 or older, but below 18, could validly consent to sexual activity with an adult. However, when a person who is 16 or older, but below 18, engages in a sexual act with a child who has not attained the legal age of consent, it could be regarded as child molestation.
Can a Minor Be Charged with Child Sexual Abuse if the Sexual Activity was Consensual?
An adult may face child molestation charges for engaging in a sexual act with a minor below the legal age of consent. It does not matter that the child had agreed to the act, as people under 16 are deemed incapable of legally consenting to a sexual act.
However, can criminal sexual abuse happen between two minors if it is a “consensual“ sexual encounter?
Michigan imposes strict laws on the legal consenting age and the kind of sexual contact that is allowed or prohibited in the state. Although it is assumed that minors are immune to criminal charges, all sexual assault allegations are considered serious in Michigan, and convicted offenders suffer severe punishments.
Whether child molestation can occur between two minors depends on the parties‘ ages and the nature of their sexual relationship. Suppose both parties have attained the legal age of consent, but are under 18. In that case, it may not be considered sexual abuse if the sexual act was consensual.
However, if both parties are under 18, but only one of them has attained the legal age of consent, it may be considered sexual assault, depending on the nature of their sexual encounter. If the act involves sexual penetration, it will be deemed child molestation.
You must consult a criminal sexual conduct attorney if your child has been accused of engaging in a sexual act with other minors. You may be able to find a legal exemption or build a solid criminal sexual conduct defense to get the charges dropped.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC is a leading Michigan defense lawyer with decades of experience handling sex crime cases, including those involving minors. Contact our law firm for legal advice and assistance in helping your teenager avoid a criminal conviction.
Romeo and Juliet Law
Generally, consenting sexual conduct is not illegal in Michigan, especially when it does not include lewd and lascivious acts. However, minors are prohibited from engaging in sexual acts before reaching the legal consent age. Therefore, when a child under 16 engages in a sexual act that involves penetration with other minors, it becomes child sexual assault.
A Romeo and Juliet case occurs when an adolescent above 16 engages in an act of a sexual manner with a juvenile under 16. Such situations pose legal risks that could land one of them in a juvenile facility.
The Michigan Romeo and Juliet law seeks to protect teenagers who have engaged in a consensual sexual act. According to the law, if a teenager below 16 is involved in a sex act with another teenager above 16, they will not be prosecuted for sexual assault. However, such sexual acts must not involve sexual penetration of any kind. Therefore, this law only protects teenagers from being prosecuted for sexual assault if they engage in any sexual act, excluding sexual penetration.
The Michigan Compiled Laws state that it is not a sexual crime for a person younger than 16 to engage in sexual activity with a person four years older or younger. The requirement that the older person in a relationship cannot be more than four years older and the use of the word “contact” are the two most crucial components of this law and its exception. This indicates that, per the law, sexual penetration or intercourse is not permissible.
How Does the Romeo and Juliet Law Affect a Juvenile Convicted of Child Molestation and Placed on the Sex Offender Registry in Michigan?
Anyone convicted of a sex offense in Michigan must register as a sex offender. This requirement also extends to juveniles convicted of child molestation or criminal sexual conduct under Michigan law. Once a convicted sex offender is placed on the registry, it is challenging to get their criminal record erased. However, the law allows for some exceptions.
A minor found guilty of child molestation may have their record expunged from the Michigan Sex Offender Registry under the Romeo and Juliet law. This statute allows for the permanent expungement of sex offender records for registered sex offenders who were innocent, consenting adolescents at the time of the incident and were convicted of sexual assault.
Here is how the law works – the court must receive a petition for removal from the juvenile offender before it would be considered. If all the following conditions are met, then the court grants the petition for removal:
● The victim was between the ages of 13 and 16 at the time of the incident
● The offender was no more than four years older than the victim
● The alleged victim had “consented” to the act
The Romeo and Juliet law also applies if these factors are present:
● The offender was convicted of sodomy or a crime against nature involving a victim under 18
● The offender was convicted of gross indecency against a victim between 13 and 17
● The offender was convicted of CSC 2nd degree and the victim is under the Michigan Department of Corrections custodial authority or an actor of the department
● The victim was not under the offender’s custodial authority at the time of the crime
● The victim was 16 or older when the crime occurred
The mere existence of these factors does not ensure the removal of a sex offender registration record., because the court will set a date afterward to decide whether to approve the petition.
Does the Michigan Legal System Impose Other Restrictions on Consensual Sexual Relationships Involving a Juvenile Who has Attained the Legal Age of Consent?
Teenagers above 16, but below 18, have attained the legal age of consent and can have consensual sexual encounters with others. However, they cannot consent to sexual contact with their school teachers or employees, or else it would result in teacher sexual misconduct.
If a school employee has sex with a student of legal age, the employee could be charged with criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree. If the sexual contact involved a minor between 13 and 16, the adult would be charged with criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree. The penalties for this kind of sexual abuse include serious jail time.
Will Your Teenager, Who Faces Child Molestation Charges, Be Convicted and Punished Under the Michigan Justice System if It Turns Out that the Alleged Victim Lied About Their Age?
In some cases, the alleged victim lies about their age, leading the other party to believe they have attained the legal age of consent. Although the person accused of sexual assault has made a genuine error, Michigan criminal law does not view such a mistake as a solid legal defense.
The sexual abuse allegations in these cases are valid, and your child may be investigated by a law enforcement agency concerning them. If there is sufficient evidence against them, the case will proceed to juvenile court.
Can a Minor Be Tried in an Adult Court on Child Molestation Charges?
Generally, minors are tried under the juvenile court system, where the primary goal is rehabilitation. However, juveniles may be required to be placed in a juvenile facility for years as a punishment for child molestation.
With that said, suppose the sex offense involves aggravating circumstances. In that case, the judge may recommend that the child be tried under the adult criminal justice system. These situations typically occur with adolescents who are almost 18.
If the minor is found guilty, they will face mandatory sex offender registration, fines, and/or prison sentences. In addition, they may be subjected to community service, rehabilitation, and/or counseling sessions.
Contact Attorney Nicole Blank Becker and Blank Law, PC to Help Your Child Fight Sexual Abuse Charges
If your child has been accused of child molestation, you need to retain legal counsel. Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is a top CSC defense attorney handling all types of criminal cases involving minors, including continuous sexual abuse, child pornography, and child abuse.
Her years of experience as a former prosecutor with the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit make her the perfect lawyer to represent your child. She is prepared to help you achieve the best result.