Statutory Rape Attorneys in Michigan
Black’s Law Dictionary—the definitive dictionary for legal terminology—defines statutory rape as “Unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent (as defined by statute), regardless of whether it is against that person’s will.” In other words, the sex was illegal not because it was nonconsensual but because it was with a person below the age of consent as established by law.
In Michigan, technically there is no crime called “statutory rape.” You won’t find it in the law books. But Michigan statutes do establish an age of consent and prohibit sex with anyone below that age. If you find yourself or a loved one charged with a CSC offense, hire an experienced sex crimes attorney who has successfully represented clients in “statutory rape” cases in Michigan.
Age of Consent in Michigan
In Michigan, 16 is the age of consent established by law. There are, of course, some exceptions. Most are fairly intuitive. For example, it’s still illegal for a high school teacher to have sex with one of his or her students even though the student is 16 years old. It’s also illegal to have sex with a close relative no matter how old the relative is. Setting aside these and other exceptions, consensual sex with someone 16 or older is perfectly legal.
One final wrinkle. Even though it’s legal—most of the time—to have sex with someone 16 or older, nude pictures of anyone below the age of 18 are still considered child pornography and are subject to harsh criminal penalties.
Penalties for Statutory Rape
If you’re 17 or older and had consensual sex with someone who’s 13 to 15 years old, in most instances you’ve committed third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-III). This is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. You’ll also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
If you’re 17 or older and had sex with someone who’s under the age of 13, you’ve committed first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-I). The penalties are especially severe. Most notably, the law requires that you serve a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. And after you’re released, in addition to having to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, you’ll have to wear an electronic tether and be monitored by the government for the rest of your life.
So, what if you didn’t have sex with someone under the age of consent but you engaged in some other sexual activity? In Michigan law, there’s a clear divide between “sexual penetration” and other “sexual contact.” Let us explain.
“Sexual penetration” is defined in the law as “sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of another person's body . . . .” So, if there was any kind of penetration, it’s treated the same as sexual intercourse, and the penalties from the previous section apply.
“Sexual contact,” on the other hand, is defined in the law to include “the intentional touching of the victim's or actor's intimate parts or the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the victim's or actor's intimate parts, if that intentional touching can reasonably be construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification . . . .”
If you’ve engaged in sexual contact with someone who’s 13 to 15 years old and you’re more than 5 years older than them, you’ve committed fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-IV). Although technically labeled a misdemeanor, it is still punishable by up to two years in prison. And you’ll have to register as a sex offender for 25 years.
If you’ve engaged in sexual contact with someone who’s under the age of 13, you’ve committed second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC-II). This is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. You’ll have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life and be subject to lifetime electronic monitoring, i.e., you’ll have to wear a tether and be tracked by the government for the rest of your life.
Keeping Your Record Clean
All this is kind of scary, right? For example, if you’re a 16-year-old who had sex with your 15-year-old girlfriend, you’ve just committed a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. Is that really what’s going to happen to you? Not necessarily. Many people, especially young offenders, are eligible for deferrals that can prevent them from having a felony record and having to register as a sex offender. And even if you’re not eligible for a specific deferral, an experienced criminal defense attorney can still help you keep your record clean through negotiating reduced charges, persuading the court to dismiss the charges, or obtaining a not-guilty verdict at trial.
Contact Us Right Away
This is just an overview of Michigan statutory rape law. This is a particularly complicated area of the law, and some of this overview might not apply in your case. If you’re under investigation or have been charged with statutory rape, you absolutely need the assistance of a sexual offense defense attorney to advise you about your unique legal situation.
Contact us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896.