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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Michigan Rape

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.


  1. SO, I have read as much as I possibly can. It had to do with this topic. My best friend is 16, she will be 17 in 3 months. She just recently found out she is pregnant. I have 2 things I would like answered if you wouldn’t mind. (1) Can he sign the birth certificate when the child is born [they aren’t married and she isn’t emancipated and she will be 17 when birth takes place] (2) There can’t possibly be a law that can get him in trouble if she winds up pregnant? Is there?

    I know I may be overwhelming you with questions, I am sorry. She plans on moving in with him at 17, because her home life is not well. She is able to do this right? Whether her parents approve or not?

    • Dear Brianna:

      If he is the father, he can sign the birth certificate. If he does not sign the birth certificate now, he can sign an affidavit of parentage later. Consider that sometimes issues arise among the parents between the time of birth and the signing of an affidavit of parentage so this process can be more complicating than merely signing the birth certificate.

      Since the age of consent to sex in Michigan is 16, then a woman can consent to have sex with a man at age 16. A man having consensual sex with a woman the age of 16 under ordinary circumstances should not get into trouble because the woman becomes pregnant.

      I have articles on leaving the parents’ home at age 17 (under the juvenile law section) and I’m sure you have taken a look at those. Generally speaking, parents are unable to procure the return of a 17-year-old to their home once they have left.

      Good luck and I would appreciate hearing follow-up information that might benefit my readers.