What is the Age of Consent in Michigan?
Getting into trouble does not only end with the presence of consent when you have sexual intercourse or are in a sexual relationship. You must be sure the individual you are in a sexual relationship with has attained the statutory age of consent.
In the United States, the age of consent is known as the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to the participation in sexual activity. A common misconception about statutory rape is that there is a single age at which an individual can legally consent to sexual activity. The age of consent ranges state-by-state, from 16 to 18 years old, across the U.S.
What is the Age of Consent in Michigan?
While states like New York, Tennessee, and Iowa has 18, and states like Mississippi, Idaho, and Texas have 17, in Michigan, the age of consent for sexual acts or a sexual relationship is 16 years old. This means that, in most cases, a 16 year old can consent to sexual activity.
With that said, if you get involved in sexual contact or sexual penetration with a person below 16 years old, it is always illegal regardless of consent or knowledge of the minor’s age.
Regardless of the question as to whether a 16 year old is mature enough to make primed decisions when it comes to sexual activity, it is, in Michigan, legal at this age to have sexual relations which you consent to.
Exceptions to the Age of Consent in Michigan
What age of consent entails is that as a person, once you attain it, the age of 16 years old in Michigan, you can give your consent to sexual activities in the majority of cases. However, you should know that there are a number of exceptions to this. They include:
- Familial Relationship: Here, an exception arises when the sexual activities involves immediate familial relationships.
- Fiducial Relationship: This exception arises when the sexual activity involves another person who is in a position of trust or power (authority figure) over the person giving the consent.
- Consent Under Influence: Here, an exception is created for the consent, if the person giving the consent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Force or Coercion: Coercion includes economic coercion where you obtain the consent of a person (either below or above 16 years of age) by paying them. This is not just a mere solicitation charge, it makes you liable for a felony offense.
Violating an age of consent law is known as statutory rape. In Michigan, if you engage in sexual activity with a child who is below the age of consent, you may be convicted of statutory rape, which is also called criminal sexual conduct.
Michigan criminal sexual conduct charges attract stiff penalties, which includes prison time, GPS monitoring, sex offender registration, etc. With that said, if you are accused of what is sexual penetration with a person below the age of 13 (i.e. criminal sexual conduct 1st degree), you may be punished with a mandatory minimum sentencing of 25 years in prison.
Michigan’s laws also prohibit teachers from engaging in sex with students aged 16 or 17 years old.
Age of Consent and Violation of Statutory Rape Law
You would be deemed to have violated the Michigan statutory rape law when you have consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under the age of 16. This is because such individuals are regarded as minors who are legally incapable of consenting to sexual activity.
What qualifies as a sexual act is not only limited to sexual penetration in Michigan. Simply touching over the clothing of intimate areas (sexual contact, i.e. fourth degree criminal sexual conduct) is enough to ground conviction.
The Relative Age Rule in Michigan
It might interest you to note that Michigan is in the minority of states that do not consider relative age. In most other states, if two individuals that are below the age of consent have sex, it is legal (or at very least a less severe crime) as long as the partners are close to the same age.
Michigan, however, operates under an absolute age of consent law (also see Romeo and Juliet Laws). This means, it is illegal for you to have consensual sex with anyone who is below the Michigan age of consent, no matter how close your age is with the other person(s).
To make it clear, if two 15 year olds engage in consensual sexual activity, both are committing a crime, according to the Michigan laws (also check Romeo and Juliet Laws).
Penalties for Violating the Age of Consent Law
In Michigan, the law on statutory rape is one of the most severe in theentire country. Recently, the law has evolved from the former ”Romeo and Juliet Laws” to a strict age of consent with little tolerance, even for those who have no intent of committing a crime.
Penalties for the formerly called Romeo and Juliet Laws, now known as statutory rape, depends on the age of the victim and the type of criminal sexual conduct (CSC degrees) involved. They include:
- Time in jail or prison
- Sex offender registration in the Michigan Sex Offender Registry
- A permanent criminal record
Mistake of Age
According to the Michigan law, mistake of age is not a valid defense for statutory rape charges. This is in fact the rule in the majority of the U.S. The fact that you mistakenly believed the child to be of age is not a defense to a charge of statutory rape or criminal sexual conduct in Michigan.
With authority in the Michigan case of People v. Cash, 351 NW2d 822 (Mich. 1984), the rule still stands even if the victim looks, acts, or tells you that he or she is older.
Which Class of Conduct Does Age of Consent Laws Apply to?
It is important that you know that the Michigan age of consent laws only apply to explicitly heterosexual conducts. With that said, general age of consent laws throughout the U.S. apply to both homosexual and heterosexual conduct, alike, no matter if the statutes directly address the issue or not
Get an Experienced Lawyer
Wrongful sexual activity allegations (especially involving a minor) can be one of the most grievous in criminal law. This means that you need a top sex criminal sexual conduct attorney working on your case.
If you truly fall in violation of the age of consent law, an experienced criminal sexual conduct lawyer or criminal defense attorney will know the right steps to take to mitigate the consequences by getting you the required help while making the court and the prosecution see your good and human qualities without a reasonable doubt.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker possesses both the ability to anticipate the prosecution’s next move and years of experience through her practice on both sides of the law (prior to being a sexual assault defense laywer she was the Chief of the Sex Unit in Macomb County).
Nicole is also an active listener, which ensures that she does not miss any communication from her clients, the prosecution, and the defendant(s). She prides herself on building a strong attorney-client relationship to help her clients feel at ease when sharing their side of the story. This strong attorney-client relationship is critical to building a strong defense.
Contact attorney Nicole Blank Becker today at (248) 515-6583 for your initial free consultation.