How is Sexual Assault Defined Under Michigan Law?
Sexual assault in Michigan is broadly defined as “forcing or coercing an individual to engage in any non-consensual sexual contact.” This includes a lack of consent or the inability to consent in any instance of rape, sexual abuse, or form of non-consensual sexual contact. Children under the age of 16 cannot consent to sex under Michigan law.
The law regarding sexual assault in Michigan is called the Criminal Sexual Conduct Act. This Act is gender-neutral and includes marital, stranger, date, acquaintance, and child sexual assault.
Sexual Assault vs. Sexual Abuse
While the terms ‘sexual assault’ and ‘sexual abuse’ are often used interchangeably, the term ‘assault’ is a broad reference to any instance of non-consensual physical contact, whereas the term ‘abuse’ is a type of assault that specifically refers to non-consensual physical misconduct between individuals that differ in authority, such as a boss/employee or an adult/minor relationship, resulting in an abuse of power.
While these forms of misconduct are varied, in no way does one form of misconduct discredit or dilute the severity of another. Rape is rape, assault is assault, and abuse is abuse, regardless of the circumstances that may surround the instances of non-consensual sexual contact. All forms of sexual misconduct are serious offenses under Michigan law. Any victim of misconduct has a right to pursue justice for the harm that results from these heinous crimes.