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Michigan Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

It's well-known that sexual activities, like rape and sexual assault, are illegal. It's not as well-known that some consensual sexual activities are also prohibited by law. Throughout history, anti-sodomy laws have been used to criminalize sexual activity between same-sex partners.

Laws Related to Sexual Activity in Michigan

State laws prohibit certain kinds of consensual sexual activity, usually acts considered to violate the social norms of the state. These laws tend to change with the times. Michigan has prohibited consensual sexual activity laws that include provisions for disorderly conduct, indecent exposure, and other regulations found in most other states.

Michigan's anti-sodomy law remains on the books, although it can no longer be used to criminalize sexual activity between same-sex partners. This occurred as a result of a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

In that year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Lawrence v. Texas. In that case, a man challenged his conviction in Texas for having sex with another man in the privacy of his own home, which violated a state anti-sodomy law. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional and unenforceable. In the wake of that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, all anti-sodomy laws, as they apply to consenting adults, became unconstitutional and unenforceable.

As a result, Michigan no longer can use its anti-sodomy law for criminalizing sexual activity between consenting adults, including same-sex partners.

Laws Related to Sexual Activity in Michigan

In the chart below, you'll see the main provisions of Michigan's laws related to sexual activity.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to

Under 750.338, "gross indecency between male persons" remains on the books. This refers to sodomy between male partners. However, after the Lawrence case, it is no longer enforceable for purposes of criminalizing sexual activity between consenting adults, including same-sex partners.

Under 750.158, it remains a crime to engage in an act of sodomy with an animal. Offenses are treated as a felony.

Penalty for Sodomy

  • Under 750.158, for crimes involving sodomy with animal, offenders face up to 15 years in prison.
  • If at the time of the offense the offender was a "sexually delinquent person," the offender faces "an indeterminate term" in prison. Such a term ranges from one day to a maximum of life in prison.

HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

  • Under 333.5129, a defendant arraigned for a crime involving sexual penetration or exchange of bodily fluids must submit to HIV testing upon an order from the court.
  • Under the same statute, a person charged for violating a law against prostitution must also submit to HIV testing upon an order from the court.

Indecent Exposure

  • Under 750.335a, indecent exposure is a crime. Under most circumstances, offenses are treated as a misdemeanor.
  • The statute indicates that "open or indecent exposure" of one's person to another qualifies as an example of the offense of indecent exposure.
  • Breastfeeding is exempted from this statute. Breastfeeding may occur in public. It is not considered an offense under this statute.
  • For more information about public indecency and indecent exposure in Michigan, consider reviewing FindLaw's page on the subject. Also, consider reviewing FindLaw's "What Do The Courts Consider In Indecent Exposure Cases?"

Adultery & Offenses Related to Cohabitation of Unmarried Partners

  • Under 750.29-31, it is a crime to engage in an act of adultery. Offenses are treated as a felony.
  • Under 750.32, it is a crime for divorced partners to live together. Offenders face the same penalties as those guilty of adultery.
  • Under 750.335, it is a crime for unmarried sexual partners to live together. Offenses are treated as a misdemeanor.

Prostitution & Other Related Offenses

  • Under 750.455, it is a crime to engage in acts of pandering. "Pandering" refers to many different types of conduct. Under most circumstances in Michigan, the term refers to forcing a person to become a prostitute.
  • Under 750.457, it is a crime to accept the earnings of a prostitute.
  • Under 750.448, it is a crime to work as a prostitute and to solicit the services of a prostitute.
  • For more information about laws against prostitution and other related offenses, consider reviewing FindLaw's page on the subject.

Age of Consent

  • Under most circumstances, the age of consent in Michigan is 16.
  • The offense of engaging in sexual activity with a person under the age of consent is referred to statutory rape.
  • For more information about statutory rape, consider reviewing FindLaw's page on the subject.

Note: State laws are constantly changing by newly passed legislation, orders from higher courts, and a variety of other means. Consider contacting an attorney or conducting your own research to verify the laws of your state.

Research the Law

Consider reviewing the following for more information about laws related to sexual activity:

  • At Official State Codes, you'll find links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • At Michigan Code, you'll find links to all laws in the state, including those related to sexual activity.

Laws Related to Sexual Activity in Michigan: Related Resources

As social attitudes change, state laws may as well. You can visit FindLaw's Sex Crimes section to learn more on this topic. You can also contact a Michigan criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime or would like to fully understand your rights.

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