Unlike most states in the United States, Michigan’s age of consent is 16. This means in the eyes of the law an individual under the age of 16 is not capable of giving consent for sexual activity.
Michigan State Law’s penal code 750.520e explains 4th degree criminal sexual misconduct involves sexual activity with a minor. It’s considered a misdemeanor, and punishable with up to 2 years in prison and a fine up to $500. However, depending on the ages of BOTH parties, there’s an exception to this criminal charge: the Romeo and Juliet law.
In the State of Michigan, criminal sexual misconduct is illegal when one person is younger than the age of consent and the other person is over the age of consent. There’s also a relationship aspect that dictates what is deemed criminal sexual misconduct. If one person in the relationship has a position of power, authority, or even influence, over the younger person, this is also considered criminal sexual misconduct even if the younger person is older than 16.
Criminal sexual misconduct laws are meant to protect our under 16 population, and create protection from being pressured into participating in sexual relationships they aren’t ready for. However, there are times when two young adults willingly enter into a sexual relationship with one another. When this happens, the law does have an exemption known as the Romeo and Juliet law which centers around the fact that two minors are close-in-age.
Let’s be clear, Michigan consent laws are strict and offer a great amount of protection to those under the age of 16. It’s also important to mention the Romeo and Juliet law is meant to provide protection in specific situations. You’ll want to contact a Michigan criminal defense attorney the moment you’re accused of a sex crime.
The Michigan Romeo and Juliet law protects an individual who has had consensual sexual conduct with a minor, but only IF the minor was at least 13 years of age when the activity happened. It also protects the individual involved in consensual sexual conduct if the age difference between BOTH parties is less than five years.
Often, confusion occurs when people don’t understand that sexual conduct is vastly different from sexual intercourse. The main difference: sexual conduct does not include penetration, sexual intercourse includes penetration.
If sexual intercourse takes place, the close-in-age exemption, a.k.a. Romeo and Juliet Law, doesn’t apply and the older of the two involved can face felony charges for 3rd degree criminal sexual misconduct. The punishment: up to 15 years in prison.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a sex crime in Michigan, your first call should be to an experienced sex crime attorney. The Schwartz Law Group team can provide not just legal advice, but can also explain what you’re up against when you fight the charges, or decide to take a plea agreement.
Believe it or not, fighting sexual crime charges may not be the right choice for you. Sometimes taking a plea is the best way to go. A high quality, experienced Metro-Detroit sex crimes attorney will know the best option for you, and will provide the best legal help in your specific case. The Schwartz Law Group is available 24/7. Contact us today.