What if a Minor Lies About Their Age?
The term “statutory rape” describes sexual intercourse with someone under the “age of consent.” Since the age is set by statute, the term “statutory rape” makes sense. The age of consent in Michigan is 16, which means if you have sexual intercourse with an individual under the age of 16, even if it is consensual, you have broken the statutory rape laws in the state. Learn what is sexual penetration in the terms of the law here.
While that is the law, the term statutory rape is not one that is strictly used in the state. Instead, this is referred to as having sex with someone under the age of 16. If you are guilty of having sex with an underage person, it is charged as 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct or CSC 3rd degree. In situations where the statutory rape charges include aggravating factors, such as the underage person being under 13 or if force or coercion were used, the charges may be increased to criminal sexual conduct 1st degree or CSC 1st degree. This is a more serious charge.
What if a Minor Lies About Their Age?
Even if the minor lies about his or her age, you can face statutory rape charges. Based on Michigan law, statutory rape is considered a strict liability crime.
This means that even if you made a mistake regarding the victim’s age, you would face criminal charges. If the victim looks older than their age, lied about their age online, or showed you a fake ID, you will still be facing sexual assault, statutory rape, or other sex crime charges. These are all felony charges. Learn if sexual assault is a federal crime here.
Some states permit a reasonable person to use a mistake of age defense. However, Michigan does not provide this. It is also not expected that this law will be changed anytime soon.
Even though this is the case when it comes to sex offenses involving minors, a reasonable mistake is something to consider. If you can prove you were mistaken about the victim’s age because the minor lied or because of another reason, the prosecutor may not press criminal charges against you. If they do press charges, it may encourage them to resolve your sex crimes case on more favorable terms, including no jail time, no sex offender registration, and no criminal record.
Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender if Convicted of Statutory Rape?
The answer to this question is, “it depends.” You may not have to register as a sex offender after being convicted of statutory rape. The circumstances that must be present to avoid registering as a sex offender include:
- The victim was a person 13 thru 15 years old
- You were not over four years older than the victim
- You can prove the sexual relations were consensual
This makes sense if you think about it. For example, if a 16-year old has consensual sex with his 15-year old girlfriend, he should not be considered a sex offender for life. Most cases that involve peers that are close in age are deferred based on the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. This ensures the client does not have a criminal record.
What happens if you don’t meet the criteria listed above? In these cases, you will be required to register as a sex offender on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, likely for the remainder of your life. It can be difficult to show your sexual relations were consensual in some situations. Due to this, it is smart to contact a sex offender lawyer to schedule a free consultation as soon as you can.
It is not unusual to have a situation where the person who orchestrated the act says it was consensual, while the victim (who is not the age of consent) says it was not. In these situations, the judge typically sides with the victim.
To help show the judge that they should rule in your favor, you must show evidence beyond just your side of the story. It is best to tell your sex crimes defense lawyer everything, and the attorney-client relationship will ensure that only what is needed will be used to help build a defense.
The evidence you need depends on the sexual relationship and sexual relations you had with the victim. One type of evidence may be texts from the victim that shows the minor lied about their age online or where they make statements that prove the sex was consensual rather than statutory rape or sexual assault. Learn the meaning of non-consensual sex in terms of the law here.
Statute of Limitations for Statutory Rape in Michigan
There is no statute of limitations in Michigan for first degree criminal sexual conduct. This includes any violation of the age of consent law in the state and violent rape. For other types of sexual assault or sexual abuse, criminal charges must be filed within a decade of when the incident occurred or by the time the victim turned 21.
What Options Do You Have if You are Falsely Accused of Statutory Rape?
If you are falsely accused of statutory rape, some things can help you build strong sexual assault defense strategies. Utilizing your attorney-client relationship is beneficial since they likely have experience with these types of sex crimes.
- Find an attorney that specializes in age of consent cases. You need to have representation by someone who understands the law and how it applies to any charges you face, even if the minor lies about his or her age or if you are charged with sexual assault.
- Stay calm. While these types of criminal charges can be shocking, you don’t want to do something that will worsen your situation. Remain calm and work with a criminal sexual conduct attorney.
- Do not contact the alleged victim. Even in situations where the minor lies about their age online and you want to get them to admit it, you should not contact the person.
- Work with your attorney to build a viable defense. In any case that involves individuals of a certain age, working with a rape defense attorney is necessary.
Common Questions Related to Statutory Rape Charges in Michigan
What if the alleged victim lied about his or her age?
Making a mistake of someone’s age is not a viable defense in Michigan. It does not matter if the minor lies purposefully to you. You, the person who is of legal age to consent, must confirm a person’s age before engaging in any type of sexual activity, or you may face criminal charges.
What if the minor is the one who initiated the sexual act?
Even in situations where the minor agrees to the sex or initiates it with someone over the age of consent, the law still views it as statutory rape. That is because, in Michigan, the minor cannot legally give consent.
What if the minor’s parents agree with the relationship and sexual act?
No law in Michigan allows parents to waive the age of consent for a child. This does not matter what a parent allows when it comes to sex with a minor, the state’s law is what will count.
What if you met the minor on an online dating site and they said they were older (the age of consent)?
To sign up for most dating sites, you must be a minimum of 18 years old. It is easy for minors to lie about their age and say they are 18 or older. No background checks are conducted by dating sites, which means it is an “enter at your own risk” situation. This means that before you agree to meet someone you found on a dating site and engage in some type of sexual act, take time to confirm their age. If a minor lies to you and you engage in sexual intercourse, you will be the one who is charged with a criminal offense.
The risk you put yourself at when talking to a minor through a dating site is significant. You need to find out his or her age right away. Most people spend time getting to know each other before meeting, so use this time to find out their true age.
What if the minor refuses to or does not want to press charges?
This is not considered in cases where the victim is under the age of consent. Usually it is the state, not the victim pressing charges. Someone often finds out about these situations and then goes to the police to report them. At this point, it is in the hands of the police and not up to the victim if the individual is arrested.
Do Not Wait to Work with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney When Facing Statutory Rape Charges
For some people, they think the situation will “blow over.” Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Getting in touch with an attorney immediately is recommended if you are facing statutory rape charges or any other type of sexual assault charge. The attorney can review the facts of the case, work to gather evidence, and build a solid criminal sexual conduct defense on your behalf. The longer you wait to retain legal representation, the harder it will be for them to build an effective defense.
Do you need help with statutory rape charges in Michigan? If so, contact Attorney Nicole Blank Becker by calling (248) 515-6583 and schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.