Most people consider rape to be a crime where the victim doesn't consent to intercourse, but the word “rape” can also refer to the age of the person involved. This is called the statutory age of consent, and it is your responsibility to ensure that the person you're having intercourse with has reached this age.
In the United States, the age of consent is legally defined as the minimum age at which a person is old enough to consent to sexual activity. Individuals under this minimum age are considered to be legally incapable of consenting to sexual activity.
16 is the legal age a person can consent to sexual activity in Michigan. Anyone under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity.
While in Michigan any person over the age of 16 is legally able to give consent, there are a number of exceptions that can still result in criminal charges. These exceptions include the following:
This is a crime known as statutory rape or third-degree criminal sexual conduct. In Michigan, if you engage in any type of sexual activity involving someone under the age of 16, you are violating the age of consent and can be convicted of a felony charge.
The penalties for criminal sexual conduct in Michigan are very severe and usually involve a period of prison time as well as expensive fines. All people convicted of criminal sexual conduct are monitored for the rest of their lives and must register as sex offenders, which has a huge impact on the rest of their lives.
In addition to statutory rape, there is also the crime of engaging in sexual penetration of a person below the age of 13, which carries a minimum sentence of 25 years, though sentences are usually much harsher.
What's important to note about Michigan is that sexual activity isn't confined to just the sex act. Even touching over clothing can be enough to convict a person of criminal sexual activity, if found to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.
What happens if you made an honest mistake and believed the person you had intercourse with was above the age of consent? In Michigan and many other states, a mistake is not a valid defense, and you will still be prosecuted for criminal sexual activity. This rule even applies if the underage party lied to you and told you they were older.
In many other states, it's legal for two underage people to engage in consenting sexual activity as long as the partners are of similar age. In Michigan, this isn't the case, and the age of consent is an absolute. What this means is that any person who has sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 is committing a crime, no matter how close they are to their partner's age. Even two 15 year olds who engage in sexual activity are committing a crime according to the Michigan law.
Michigan has some of the most severe laws regarding statutory rape and thus also has some of the harshest sentencing when it comes to the violation of the age of consent. There's no tolerance or leeway given to people who have violated the age of consent with regards to relative ages or whether the person knew the age of the victim.
The legal penalties for a third-degree criminal sexual activity conviction include the following:
These penalties are often accompanied by a severe social stigma of being labeled as a sex offender. This can prohibit you from being able to obtain a job and will severely limit the areas in which you can live.
Your first step should always be to hire an experienced lawyer who has dealt with such cases before. Any case involving sexual activity with a minor is emotionally fraught, and the consequences of a conviction are life-altering. A good lawyer will be able to assess your case and provide you with a strategy to protect your rights and make sure you are treated fairly.
Even if your case goes all the way to trial, you shouldn't lose hope. Remember that you're presumed innocent, and it's the prosecution's job to prove your guilt. By working with an experienced trial attorney, you can increase the likelihood that you’ll get the best possible outcome for your case.
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