When you hear the number rape cases in Michigan yearly, you might be tempted to ask, “What is the legal age of consent in Michigan?” Laws in the United States of America differ from one state to another. Nevertheless, rape is a serious offense anywhere.
Having carnal knowledge of a minor is a serious offense. It can tarnish one’s image and attract severe punishment. It can attract penalties such as life or 15 years imprisonment, a fine, lifetime electronic monitoring, and others.
So, if you’re relocating to Michigan, take your time to read the state’s laws. Here is information about Michigan statutory rape laws, charges, and more. Read on!
What Is The Legal Age of Consent In Michigan?
The legal age of consent, the age at which a person can consent to sexual activity, is 16 years. So, your partner must be 16 years or older to consent to sexual activity. An adult that engages in sexual activity with a minor (15 years or younger) may be charged with statutory rape.
The state’s statutory rape law differs when the adult holds an authoritative position, such as a teacher. In this case, the legal age of consent is 18 years. However, the law forbids high school and grade school teachers from having sexual relationships with their students.
The Michigan statutory rape law protects minors. It protects them from exploitation, ensuring their safety and well-being.
Can A Person Accused of Rape In Michigan Claim Ignorance?
Firstly, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Anyone can claim ignorance when caught. Even criminals do.
A person accused of statutory rape in Michigan will be charged with criminal sexual conduct even if ignorance is their defense.
In other words, even if the individual accused of statutory rape claims to be unaware of their partner’s real age or claims their partner lied about their age, such a defense won’t make any difference in a rape case.
The burden of proof rests on the prosecutor, who has to establish beyond reasonable doubt that consent wasn’t given.
A Handy Tip: Michigan doesn’t have a close-in-age exemption to statutory rape charges that most states have.
What if your partner showed a fake ID card that he or she is 16 years old?
Again, this doesn’t concern the judge or the prosecutor. Statutory rape is what it is. The fact that an older person engaged in sexual penetration with a minor is all that the persecutors need to press charges for sexual criminal conduct.
Michigan Statutory Crime Statistics
Michigan treats regular criminal sexual conduct and statutory rape cases equally. In both cases, the charges are defined by the victim’s age and if the victim sustains an injury. The state charges statutory rape under the criminal sexual conduct statutes.
Here are the national statistics regarding rape cases in Michigan.
- Michigan boasts the fourth-highest rape cases, with 72.4 rapes per 100,000 residents.
- In 2023 alone, over 7,235 rape cases have been reported.
- From 2017 to 2018, the University of Michigan reported a 150% increase in rape cases. Reports indicated that the #MeToo movement was partially responsible for increased rape cases.
- FBI statistics show 139,815 rape cases were reported across the U.S. in 2019.
- 94% of the victims of statutory rapes are girls
- In 2022, the University of Michigan agreed to pay $490 million to thousands of victims who accused a sports doctor and former employee (Robert Anderson) of sexual assault.
- The median age gap between female (adult) offenders and their victims (minors) is 9 years. The median age gap between male (adult) offenders and their victims (minors) is 6 years.
Degrees Of Criminal Sexual Conduct & Factors That Can Increase The Level Of Punishment
Statutory rape cases are serious offenses, and penalities varies based on several factors. Let’s run through those factors.
Note that two primary classes of CSC (criminal sexual conduct) exist. One is a crime for sexual contact, while the other involves penetration.
Now, how is penetration defined in statutory rape cases?
It’s important to know that the definition of the word “penetration” doesn’t only involve sexual intercourse between two individuals. It also includes oral sex or inserting one’s finger into the vagina or anal opening of another person. .
What are the charges for criminal sexual conduct involving penetration?
A person who had sexual intercourse with another that led to penetration can be charged with first or third-degree criminal sexual conduct. However, the victim’s age will be the defining factor of the penetration charge.
Does the prosecutor need to prove bodily injury in a penetration charge?
Unfortunately, the persecutor doesn’t need to prove that the rape victim sustained injury. This is often the case in first-degree charges of criminal sexual conduct.
What is sexual contact?
Sexual contact involves intentionally touching an individual’s intimate part or over the clothing covering the person’s intimate part.
Here is the difference between penetration charges and sexual contact. In penetration, the persecutor doesn’t necessarily need to prove that the victim sustained injury.
In the case of sexual contact, the prosecutor has to prove that there was contact, not that the victim (minor) resisted or refused.
The prosecutor must prove that there was sexual contact between the adult and minor, with the ultimate purpose being for sex. And here are the three ways the persecutor can prove that.
- The persecutor needs to prove that the sexual contact was intentional for the gratification or arousal of the victim.
- The intentional sexual contact was carried out as an act of revenge.
- The sexual contact was intentionally done to humiliate the victim or out of anger.
A Handy Tip: Sexual contact offenses in Michigan are charged as criminal sexual conduct, second-degree or fourth-degree.
Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct: What Are The Charges?
There are four charges of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in Michigan. These include first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree.
A person is charged with first or third-degree criminal sexual conduct if the offense involves penetration.
The second and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges are for crimes involving sexual contact. However, the first-degree CSC is more serious and carries capital punishment.
Here is what you need to know about each CSC charge;
Criminal sexual conduct first degree:
First-degree is the most severe sexual conduct charge in Michigan. Offenders may likely spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Several actions can lead to 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. These include sexual penetration of a person under the legal age of consent in Michigan and sexual penetration of another individual while you’re committing any other felony.
The other actions that can lead to first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges include sexual penetration with another person when you’re armed with a weapon or sexual penetration with a person with mental or physical challenges.
Criminal sexual conduct second degree:
CSC second degree is less severe than the first degree. But the state still considers it a felony, and the penalties are severe, too.
What are the penalties for CSC second-degree?
You could spend 15 years of your life in prison. Others include lifetime electronic monitoring and registration in Michigan’s sex offender registry, which will dent your image for life.
The second-degree charges are sexual contact crimes. This is a case where the offender intentionally touches the victim’s private part due to gratification, anger or other reasons.
Michigan’s second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges also emphasize power relationships. This involves a person with authority over another, such as the relationship between a teacher and a student.
The Michigan law forbids teachers from having sexual relationships with students.
Criminal sexual conduct third degree:
The criminal sexual conduct third degree is a felony sexual penetration crime like the first degree. The only difference is that the penalties can be less severe.
Punishment for CSC third-degree, also called “statutory rape,” may include 15 years in prison, registration in Michigan’s sex registry, and other penalties.
A Handy Tip: There is no lifetime electronic monitoring for third-degree CSC charges.
Criminal sexual conduct fourth degree:
The CSC fourth degree involves sexual contact. And the punishment is less severe. The offender may spend no more than 2 years in prison or pay a fine of a certain amount.
In most cases, the offender may do both (prison and fine). Sex offender registration and probation are the other possible penalties for CSC fourth degree.
What is the legal age of consent in Michigan? The legal age is 16. However, if you’re in an authority position, such as a teacher, the legal age of consent is 18. Nevertheless, Michigan forbids teachers from having sexual relationships with students.
These statutory rape laws are there to protect minors and vulnerable citizens. They are there to protect innocent citizens from sexual predators.
As strict as the statutory rape law, thousands of rape cases are reported yearly in Michigan. You can see the statistics above. So, imagine what would have happened if these laws weren’t in place.