What is Michigan’s ‘Age of Consent’ Law? (And is There a Problem…?)

Two teenage girls sitting side by side and laughing.
Michigan’s age of consent is 16, but that doesn’t seem to apply when an older teen is consenting to recording sexual photos or videos of themselves…

A recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling brought to light a very interesting discrepancy in Michigan’s age of consent laws. It’s got legislators and lawyers all over the state of Michigan scratching their heads. Curious? We thought you might be. It all started in the Detroit area in 2015…

The age of consent argument started with kiddie porn charges in Detroit

52-year-old Kelvin Willis invited a young teenage neighbor to his house to hang out. Once she was there, he showed her a child pornography video and then offered to pay her in return for the performance of certain acts. The 16-year-old declined his offer and instead, reported him to the police. When the cops showed up at his home and arrested him, they discovered a small amount of cocaine in his pocket.

In the end, Willis was charged with Child Sexually Abusive Activity (CSAM), Distributing Obscene Material to a Minor, and Possession of Less Than 25 Grams of Cocaine. He was convicted on all three counts and sentenced to prison, at which point he began actively trying to overturn his conviction. According to Willis, he should never have been convicted on a Child Sexually Abusive Material charge, since he never intended to make any kiddie porn with the girl and the prosecution hadn’t provided any evidence to support that claim.

Willis fought the charges and noted a flaw in our Michigan’s laws.

Another point Willis made was that the language used in Michigan’s (CSAM) abusive material and activity law was too broad, defining “a child” as someone who is 18 or younger. However, that doesn’t line up with Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct laws, which state that the age for consent is 16. So which is it? 16 or 18? 

Although the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court disagreed with Willis regarding his convictions, our Michigan Supreme Court justice did point out that Willis had raised an interesting question. In fact, in their opinion they said that the current Michigan child porn law “appears to criminalize behavior that is otherwise permissible under the criminal sexual conduct statutes.” So that’s a doozy.

What happens now? Will people’s prior child porn convictions be overturned?

In a majority opinion released on the matter, The Michigan Supreme Court wrote that the newly discovered discrepancies in the law could “nullify several otherwise important and often-employed criminal statutes of our state.” As a result, they suggested that the Legislature “may, or may not wish to assess these concerns and possibly clarify and harmonize our child sexual abuse statutory scheme.” It’ll be interesting to see what they decide to do. The criminal defense team at The Kronzek Firm has wondered these very same things for decades. 

Until then, if you’ve been accused of a sex crime and you need help understanding Michigan’s complex sex crime laws, call 866 7NO JAIL and talk to one of our skilled sex crime defense attorneys. We understand how difficult it is to defend against sex crime allegations, especially when the law is sometimes unclear. However, we’ve got decades of successes under our belts, and a reputation as fearless fighters in the courtroom. So don’t wait. Get the help you need, and get it now! We can be reached at 1 866-766-5245 as soon as you need to hire an aggressive sex crime defense team. 

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