I have had numerous 16-year-old young women inquire as to whether their boyfriends will be in trouble with the law for having sex with them when the women were age 16. As such, I am writing this article about Michigan’s statutory law on rape, codified at MCL 750.520a.The law provides that the person accused of the criminal sexual conduct is the “Actor”, while the “Victim” is the the person alleging to have been subjected to criminal sexual conduct.
“Sexual contact” includes 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, done for a sexual purpose, or in a sexual manner for revenge, to inflict humiliation, or out of anger.
“Sexual penetration” means 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, but emission of semen is not required.
The law provides for criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, third, and fourth degree with first being the most serious and in which the victim is under 13 years of age. It is also a first degree offense if the victim is between at least age 13 and under age 16 and the actor is a member of the same household, related to the victim by blood or affinity to the fourth degree, in a position of authority over the victim and used this authority to coerce submission, a teacher, administrator, employee, volunteer or service provider at school, or if sexual penetration occurs under circumstances involving the commission of any other felony. There are provisions applicable to mentally or physically incapacitated victims. It is also a first degree offense where a weapon is involved and where physical force or threats of future harm are used.
Criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or for any term of years. If the violation is committed by an individual age 17 or older against an individual less than age 13, then the punishment is imprisonment for life or any term of years, but not less than 25 years. If the violation is committed by an individual age 18 or older against an individual less than 13, then under certain circumstances, the punishment is imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. In addition to these penalties, the court shall (has to) sentence the defendant to lifetime electronic monitoring.
The law draws a line at age 16. Therefore, a woman can consent to sexual conduct when she reaches the age 16.
This article was originally published on May 28, 2009. It was revised and republished on June 7, 2014.