Michigan’s Romeo and Juliet Law

young girl and boy sitting close with backpacks and homework

Many states have a close-in-age exemption for young couples who want to engage in consensual sex but are slightly above and below the age of consent. Let’s go over Michigan’s laws regarding statutory rape, and whether or not teenagers are at risk of facing criminal penalties.

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What is the Age of Consent in Michigan?

In Michigan, the age of consent is 16 years old. This means that no one under age 16 is legally able to consent to sex. Anyone who is found guilty of having sexual intercourse with someone under 16 can be charged with statutory rape, which is considered 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct.

3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony and can result in:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Lifetime sex offender registration

What is Michigan's Romeo and Juliet Law?

It is not unusual for high school couples to have one partner over the age of consent and the other partner under the age of consent. You may be wondering, can the partner who is over 16 be charged with statutory rape?

Michigan’s Romeo and Juliet law provides legal protection in cases where a person has consensual sexual contact with a minor who:

  • Is at least 13 years old at the time
  • Is less than 5 years younger than the other partner

For example, a girl who is 15 years old and a boy who is 17 years old are protected by the Romeo and Juliet law.

Something important to note, however, is that Michigan’s Romeo and Juliet law does not cover sexual intercourse. Instead, the law only protects these young couples in cases of sexual contact. If sexual intercourse occurs, statutory rape charges can still be pursued - regardless of the age gap, relationship, or consent.

Michigan Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys

This subtle distinction between sexual contact and sexual intercourse within the law may lead to young people facing unexpected statutory rape charges. Our team at Levine & Levine Attorneys at Law wants to help protect you from the long-term impacts of a sex crime conviction. Call us today at (269) 218-8880 to discuss your situation with one of our Kalamazoo criminal sexual conduct lawyers.