In this article, I will discuss the Michigan age of consent as well as commonly asked questions related to statutory rape, the age of consent in Michigan, and what to do if you have been accused or falsely accused of sexual interaction with a minor.

Being accused of statutory rape in Michigan is a traumatic and life-changing situation. If you find yourself in this position, you need to take urgent steps to assemble evidence in your defense and clear your name.

At Rasor Law, we understand the seriousness of being falsely accused of statutory rape and will guide you through the steps you need to take to defend yourself.

We’ve built our practice on the same values on which our society is built; truth and justice are important, facts matter, and hard work and skill equal exemplary results.

When it comes to Michigan age of consent charges, being falsely accused can lead to serious consequences that you will be dealing with for the rest of your life.

That’s why if we decide to take your case, it means that we believe that you deserve protection and justice, and we will draft a winning strategy and fight with you side by side using our experience with the Michigan age of consent that we have gained over decades.

What Is Michigan’s Age of Consent?

Michigan age of consent requires that any person has to be a minimum of 16 years old, in order for them to legal consent to sexual intercourse with an adult.

The legal age of consent in Michigan is 16 years old.

Michigan Law dictates that any persons who are under the age of 16 years are not able to legally consent to sexual activity.

This means that any adult person (16 or above) who engages in sexual activities with a person below the age of 16 is liable for statutory rape.

What many people may not know is that under Michigan statutory rape laws, Michigan’s age of consent is raised to 18 years old when the older party is an authoritative figure, for example, a supervisor at work or a teacher. It is illegal for a high school or grade school teacher to have sex with a student.

Sometimes, people who have sexual intercourse with a person under Michigan’s age of consent were not aware of the person’s age. Under Michigan law, a mistaken age is not a defense to the crime of statutory rape.

Exceptions to statutory rape laws include sexual relations with family, coercion including paying for sexual activities, and sexual activities with an individual who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Michigan State Law considers that a person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol can not give consent.

In such cases, you could be facing rape charges, even if the individual involved was over the age of 16 years old.

What is Considered Valid Consent To Have Sex?

In Michigan, any individual above the age of 16 years old is legally able to consent to sexual activity.

This means that sexual activities between an 18-year-old and 16-year-old individual are legal, as long as it’s consensual. The same would apply to someone who is 21 years old and someone who is 16 years old as well as a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old. But even if consensual, any sexual activity with an individual under the age of 16 is illegal in Michigan.

So what is considered consent to having sex?

In Michigan, sexual consent is an agreement from your partner to participate in sexual activity.

Before engaging in sexual activity with someone, you need to know if they want to be sexually engaged with you too. It’s also important to be honest with your partner about what you want and don’t want. It’s best to be open about it.

Consenting and asking for consent is all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner. If you ever have a doubt, the best thing to do is to clarify it beforehand. Both people must agree to sex — every single time — for it to be consensual.

Without consent, sexual activity (including oral sex, genital touching, and vaginal or anal penetration) is considered sexual assault or rape.

Michigan Law: Is Statutory Rape a Felony?

Is statutory rape categorized as a felony in Michigan? The fast answer is yes, it is.

A statutory rape charge refers to any form of sexual intercourse with a person who is not legally old enough to provide sexual consent.

In Michigan, the age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16 years old. This means that if you have sex with a boy or a girl, under the age of 16, even if the sex was “consensual”, you are liable and could be charged with statutory rape.

So what kind of a felony could you face if you have had sex with a minor in Michigan?

In Michigan, according to Michigan Criminal Law (MCL 750.520d) statutory rape, which is to say any sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16, is considered a third-degree crime and is punishable with up to fifteen years in prison. You will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.

If you have been accused of sexual interaction with someone who is under Michigan’s age of consent, the victim is not required to show proof of force or coercion. If you have been wrongly accused of statutory rape, it is important to immediately contact an experienced attorney to help review your circumstances and build a strong defense.

It should also be noted that the minimal criminal charge will be a third-degree criminal offense. Depending on the accusation, the offense may be elevated, for example, if you have been charged with having sexual intercourse with persons below the age of 13 years old. This could then be considered a first-degree criminal sexual offense.

What Happens if You Violate the Michigan Age of Consent?

In Michigan, sexual activity with persons under the age of 16 is a criminal act known as statutory rape or more specifically third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

In Michigan, if you have sexual relations, intercourse, or sexual activities, with a person who is below the age of 16, you are violating the Michigan age of consent.
By doing so, you are liable to be convicted of a felony charge. Michigan’s statutory rape laws are very strict and such accusations are very serious and life-changing.

If you are found guilty of statutory rape, you could be facing time in prison as well as hefty fines. In most cases, you will also be required to register as a sex offender.
As in most cases, the person’s age can also have a bearing on how severe the penalty will be. For example, engaging in sexual activities with a person below the age of 13, you may be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison.

When talking about the Michigan age of consent, it is important to know that in Michigan, sexual activity is not restricted to just the sex act. Penetration of any kind, forced or not, is included and even touching over clothing can be enough to convict a person of criminal sexual activity, if found to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Many people are unaware of a person’s age. So what happens if you made an honest mistake and believed the person you had intercourse with was above the age of consent? In Michigan, 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.

Can I Still Be Accused of Statutory Rape if the Person Lied About Their Age?

Michigan age of consent treats statutory rape with a very strict approach. Persons who have committed statutory rape are strictly liable for the crime. This means that if you have had sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16, you are liable for a statutory rape offense, even if the victim lied about their age.

This means that if you take the person’s age in good faith, you are still open to the penalties for statutory rape. Even if the victims showed a fake ID or looked over the age of 16, you could still be liable.
There are some states in the U.S. that permit a reasonable-mistake-of-age defense to a charge of statutory rape. Michigan, unfortunately, does not.

In 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court reconsidered whether to recognize a reasonable-mistake-of-age defense to statutory rape but ultimately left it a strict liability crime.

Still, a reasonable mistake is not worth nothing. That is why if you have been accused or falsely accused of statutory rape, it is very important that you seek immediate and experienced legal counsel.
As every case is different if you can prove that the victim lied about their age, or you were validly mistaken, you may be able to turn a favorable decision or favorable terms depending on your circumstances. However, it is important to know and understand that it is not legally considered an excuse.

Sexual Activities Under 16 Years of Age, The Relative Age Rule

Another common question relating to the Michigan age of consent has to do with people who engage in sexual intercourse below the age of 16.

Michigan age of consent requires that a person must be at least 16 years old in order to legally consent to and engage in sexual intercourse.

A common misconception comes about when both parties are below the age of 16.
In some U.S. states, it is legal for two underage people to engage in sexual activities, provided both have consented to it. This is particularly the case when both people are of similar age, for example, a 15-year-old and another 15-year-old.

However, in Michigan, this isn’t the case. Michigan’s age of consent is what is called “absolute”.

To clarify, it is illegal for any person under the age of 16 to engage in sexual intercourse no matter the other person’s age. Even two 15-year-olds who engage in sexual activity are committing a crime according to Michigan law.

Penalties for Violating the Michigan Age of Consent

By now, you will have understood that the State of Michigan has some of the most severe laws regarding statutory rape. On top of that, they also have some of the harshest sentences with very little room for tolerance.

If you have been falsely accused of having sexual interaction with a minor, then it is imperative that you seek an attorney who can help.

Penalties imposed by a judge should you be found guilty of statutory rape may include:

    • Time in prison, sometimes up to 25 years.
    • Fines
    • A criminal record that will not be cleared
    • You will be required to register as a sex offender for life

In addition to these penalties, being labeled as a sex offender often carries with it a heavy social stigma that can trip you up in the future. Sexual offenders can find it hard to find a job, live in family communities, and so on.

Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender for Statutory Rape?

Depending on your case, no you will not necessarily have to register as a sex offender if you’re convicted of statutory rape. But you might.

Under Michigan Criminal Law (MCL 28.722), you will not have to register providing these conditions:

  1. The victim was between 13 and 15 years old,
  2. You were not more than 4 years older than the victim, and
  3. You can show that the sex was consensual.

For example, a 16-year-old who has consensual sexual interaction with a 15-year-old partner doesn’t deserve to be branded a sex offender for the rest of his life – providing it was consensual.

While it is illegal, there are cases that involve near-age peers that can be deferred under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), which leaves the client without a criminal record at all.

But what if you don’t meet the three criteria?

Then yes, you will have to register as a sex offender—for the rest of your life.

One of the most common issues you may face when accused of statutory rape is proving that the sex was consensual. It’s not unusual for the accused to claim that the sex was consensual while the victim claims it wasn’t. In a he-said-she-said situation like this, the judge will usually side with the victim and require you to register. To persuade the judge that you’re telling the truth, you’ll need to present clear evidence beyond your say-so.

The kind of evidence needed will depend on your case. For example, in one case, the victim sent the accused text messages after intercourse, which convincingly refuted her later claim that the sex was non-consensual. In many cases, proving consent may require the accused to successfully pass a polygraph examination.

How Common Are False Statutory Rape Charges in Michigan?

Michigan has the fourth-highest rape rate with 72.4 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants.

In the United States, consensual teenage sex is common. A recent study revealed that 50% of U.S. teenagers have had sexual intercourse by the age of sixteen. It is estimated that there are more than 7 million incidents of statutory rape every year.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) suggests that between 2% and 10% of statutory rape allegations might be false or unsubstantiated. However, this is a tiny figure compared to the number of sexual assaults never reported or recorded. The report estimates that around 63% of rapes go unreported.

Unfortunately, many genuine incidents of statutory rape go unreported because the victim fears that the case will be dismissed. For this reason, lawmakers are increasingly determined to place the burden of proof on the accused.

If you are falsely accused of statutory rape, you need to assemble a very good defense and gather as much solid evidence as possible.

In addition, I have laid out several common mistakes you should avoid, or risk harming your case. You must know what not to do, even before your attorney at Rasor Law explains how to proceed.

Can I Be Accused of Statutory Rape Years After it Happened?

In Michigan, there is no statute of limitations for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. This includes violations of the Michigan age of consent or any violent rape. Other sexual abuse charges must be filed within 10 years of the act or by the victim’s 21st birthday (whichever is later).

Michigan Age of Consent: What to Do If You Are Falsely Accused of Statutory Rape

If you have been falsely accused of statutory rape, below are some steps that can help build a strong case in your defense.

1. Find a Specialist Attorney

Being accused of statutory rape is very serious and you must treat allegations related to the Michigan age of consent urgently. That means finding an attorney who can help defend you and who has experience in defending clients against false accusations. This is one of the first actions you should take when notified of statutory rape allegations.

2. Remain Calm

Being falsely accused of statutory rape can be very shocking. It can be very easy to panic or do something that will in the future make your case harder to prove. For that reason, try to remain as calm as possible.

As above, your first step should be to find and contact an attorney who can help you. Do not start calling your family or friend to explain to them what happened.

A sexual assault allegation can change your relationships with everyone you know, at least until your name is cleared.

Try to hold down feelings of fear or anger. It is natural to be angry and confused if false allegations are made against you, but acting on your emotions can be risky.

3. Do Not Contact the Accuser

Once allegations have been made, do not under any circumstances contact your accuser to find out why the allegations are being made or try to make things better. You should call your attorney, who will guide your next move.

Any contact you make with your accuser could be held against you in court. Your mind will be full of questions, but they can be answered during a trial with the assistance of your lawyer.

4. Discuss Possible Motives

If you have been falsely accused, speak with your attorney to try and understand any possible motives behind the false accusation. Additionally, think about how you can prove this motive.

If you make any assumptions, make sure you can back them up. For example, any recent evidence of ongoing hostility or other relevant behavior against the accuser may help.

5. Construct a Clear Timeline of Events

The allegations will include when and where the incident took place, providing the charge is about a single incident.

Put together a timeline of the events that took place and assemble all the evidence you can to build an alibi for any dates and times.

This could be anything from phone and text records to your internet browsing history or a strong alibi, such as being able to prove that you were elsewhere at the time.

Also include information about the accuser’s behavior towards you during this timeline. This will help your attorney create a clearer picture to prove your innocence.

6. Find Witnesses

A witness can be a very solid alibi.

From reading the above article, you will have understood that when it comes to your word against your accuser’s, a judge will often favor the accuser.

Your best friend in this situation is a potential witness to speak to you with your attorney, especially if you were with them or they can attest to you being elsewhere during the time of the offense or testify on the circumstances.

Witnesses might also include anyone who could attest to strange behavior towards you by the accuser. This can help with establishing a motive.

No matter your case or circumstances, being accused of statutory rape is a very serious allegation. I hope that this article has helped you better understand the Michigan age of consent as well as some of the most common misconceptions about it, and what you can do if you have been falsely accused.

At Rasor Law, we offer free consultations with an attorney who will speak to you about your case and your potential options. If you have been falsely accused of statutory rape do not hesitate to call us at (248) 543-9000 or contact us to send a message.