As a lawyer who defends people accused of sex crimes, I am frequently asked, “What is the age of consent in Michigan?” The age of consent is 16. In order to consent to sexual activity a person must be 16. There are other circumstances that can make sexual activity between certain individuals illegal. For example, it is illegal for a teacher to engage in a sexual relationship with a student who attends the school district in which they teach, even if the student is 16. I will write a post specifically regarding teachers at a later time. The age of consent is critical information that every teen and parent need to know and remember when it comes to discussing and making decisions about sex.
The next question that usually follows is, “If my son is 16 and he has sex with his 15 year old girlfriend, is that a crime?” YES. There is no law in Michigan that considers the age difference between the parties and it does not matter if the sexual acts are consensual or not. Also, it does not matter if the person over 16 does not know that the other person is younger than 16. It is a strict liability action, meaning even if a person younger than 16 lies to you, you will still be held accountable if you have sex with that individual.
Finally, some parents ask me, “What if both participants are younger than the age of consent? Is that a crime?” The short answer is yes. It does not matter. I have represented thirteen-year-olds who consensually engaged in sexual activity, and charges were pressed. Please warn every parent and teenager you know; 16 is the age of consent in Michigan. Engaging in sexual relations before then can cause terrible legal consequences that can haunt you for the rest of your life.