Can Criminal Sexual Abuse Happen Between Two Minors?
In the state of Michigan, the age of consent is 16. Anyone under the age of 16 is unable to legally consent to sexual activity. Adolescents who are 16 years of age or older can legally consent to sexual contact with other individuals over 16; however, there are some exceptions to this.
When someone engages in digital, oral, anal, or vaginal sexual penetration with minors who can not legally consent to sex, they can face statutory rape charges. In Michigan, this is considered criminal sexual conduct (CSC) and charged as a sex crime.
Can Criminal Sexual Abuse Happen Between Two Minors?
While this is true for adults who engage in a sexual act with someone under 16, you may wonder what the law says about minors engaging in sexual activities. After all, if two minors engage in some type of sexual contact or activity, is it a crime if they both consent? In Michigan, there are strict laws regarding the age of consent and when sexual contact or activities are illegal or allowed.
Michigan’s Romeo and Juliet Laws
The statutory rape law in Michigan does not exempt teens from criminal charges for sexual penetration. However, they are protected from other types of sexual activity. This means that if a 17-year old and a 14-year old engage in some type of sexual activity, the 17-year old won’t face criminal charges. However, if sexual or oral intercourse occurs, they may face criminal sexual conduct charges.
A Deep Dive into the Romeo and Juliet Law in Michigan
An 18-year old has the legal right to date someone who is 16. However, if the younger individual has not reached 16 yet (even if they are just a day shy of their birthday), there are serious legal risks. If you are in these situations and may face criminal cases related to sexual abuse or sexual assault, it is a good idea to contact an experienced criminal sexual conduct attorney and schedule a free consultation.
The Michigan Romeo and Juliet law has been codified in the Michigan Compiled Laws. It states that if someone is under 16 years of age and they engage in sexual conduct with a person who is four years older or under, it is not considered a crime.
The most important parts of the law are that the older individual in the relationship cannot be over four years older and the term “contact.” This means that sexual penetration or intercourse is not permitted based on this law.
The Parties’ Ages Determine Statutory Rape Charges in Michigan
Even though there is no “close in age” exemption for cases of statutory rape charges like other states have, the ages of the involved parties do impact the sexual conduct charge. Also, the older party’s relationship with the younger party will impact how this crime is charged. Depending on the situation and circumstances, the case of CSC can be charged as any of the following:
● Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree
● Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd Degree
● Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree
● Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree
The potential penalties for a conviction include time in jail, significant fines, and the requirement to be listed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.
If the situation involves two minors who have a sexual relationship that results in sexual intercourse or oral sex, the older of the two may face statutory rape charges. Other consensual activities, such as touching to arouse, are legally permissible.
Limits on Consent for 16 and 17-Year Olds
Individuals who are 16 and 17-years old can consent to sex with adults. While this is true, they can not consent to sexual contact with school employees or teachers (see: teacher sexual misconduct).
If a school employee engages in sexual contact with someone at the age of consent, the adult may face 3rd degree sexual assault charges. This type of sexual abuse can result in jail time and other penalties if the adult is convicted. If the sexual contact occurred with a child between 13 and 16 years old, the adult would face a CSC 2nd degree charge.
Making the mistake of believing the minor is older than their true age is not considered a valid defense for statutory rape charges in the state of Michigan.
What Happens if the Age of Consent Law is Violated in Michigan?
In the state of Michigan, if the age of consent law is violated, the perpetrator can be charged with 3rd degree sexual abuse of a minor or sexual misconduct. As mentioned above, anyone under 16 cannot legally consent to any type of sexual activity. If someone commits sex offenses with someone under 16, they can face a charge of violating the age of consent, which is considered a felony in Michigan.
The penalties for criminal sexual misconduct and sexual abuse actions are severe. Sometimes, they can include adult prison sentences of up to three years and significant fines and fees. If you are convicted of sexual misconduct, you may have to submit to Michigan lifetime electronic monitoring. It may also be necessary to register as a sex offender. This can have a huge impact on your future.
Potential Criminal Charges Besides Statutory Rape
Statutory rape is not the only charge you may face in these situations. You could also be charged with criminal sexual conduct 1st degree: person under 13. This crime has a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison if convicted, but there are situations when the penalties may be more severe. Checkout CSC 1st degree Michigan penalty for more details.
It is also worth remembering that sexual activities in Michigan are not just limited to actual sex acts. If the prosecution can prove this beyond any reasonable doubt, even situations where you only touched over clothing, may be sufficient to get a conviction of the criminal sexual activity charge.
What if the Younger Person Lied About Their Age?
In situations where you have made an honest mistake and believe the individual you had sex or sexual contact with was over the age of 16, you may wonder what will happen. Unfortunately, making this mistake is not considered a viable defense in Michigan. You will still be charged with a crime – depending on your age; it may be heard in juvenile court.
Even if a minor lies about their age to you or if they claim they are older than you are, this is a rule that is still applicable.
What to Do if You are Investigated for Statutory Rape or Sexual Abuse Involving a Minor
In many situations, the police will show up unannounced to “surprise” someone in a potential sex case such as this. Sometimes, the police officer or the detective will begin the conversation lightly and in a non-confrontational manner.
You should remain silent and don’t talk to police if you are being questioned for cases of statutory rape, sexual abuse, child pornography, or a similar sex-related criminal charge. You must provide the law enforcement officer or detective with your name and address, but that is all. At this point, you should request to call your attorney. This is essential to ensure that you do not say something that may incriminate you.
Do Not Wait to Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for Help with Your Case
If you have been arrested or even accused of sexual assault, statutory rape, or another sex crime, don’t wait to contact an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer.
You can schedule a free consultation with experienced criminal defense attorney Nicole Blank Becker by calling (248) 515-6583 or emailing through the attorney’s website.
You need to get in touch as soon as possible to ensure that your CSC defense attorney has time to build strong sexual assault defense strategies. Nicole also offers free consultations to new clients.
Working with female criminal defense attorney Nicole Blank Becker will help you with your case. Her knowledge and experience will help you have a viable and effective defense against the charges you face.