By Rudy Serra
Q: “I AM 27-YEARS-OLD. Is it legal to date a 17-year-old as long as the parents are okay with it? I am freaking out because I don’t know if it’s legal, and Child Protective Services is coming to talk to them.”
Answer: The topic is more complicated than it may appear at first.
Sixteen is the age of consent for sex in Michigan. Under the law, any person who is under 16 years of age is incapable of giving valid consent. As a result, any sexual contact with a person under 16 can be charged as a crime. A person who has reached their sixteenth birthday can consent to sex. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the answer.
Between 16 and 18 is an especially precarious time. A person who is 16 can agree to have sex, but they cannot validly sign a contract. They are still not an “adult.” They are legally a minor.
If you use a computer, phone or an-other electronic device to communicate with a 16 or 17-year-old, you may commit “child sexually abusive activity” without ever even meeting. Taking or sending photographs, for example, would be a felony even if the model is over 16 (when sex is legal) but under 18. No person under 18 can agree to be in pictures, movies or on a phone or computer without parental authorization.
The word “date” is vague. If “dating” does not include any physical contact (even through clothing), then you could “date” a 15-year-old legally. The problem is that the slightest sexual touching could break the law. Areas of the body such as the breasts, inner thigh, buttocks and other reproductive or excretory parts are strictly off limits.
The fact that the parents do not object, of course, makes it less likely that they will agitate the police to take action. Either way, it is best to stick with 18 or over to avoid a potentially life-altering prosecution.
JUDGE RUDY REPORTS is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. We welcomes questions from readers. If you have a legal question or concern, send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Advice about specific cases cannot be provided but general legal questions and topics are welcome.